Opinion

The Casual Observer: Hot in the city


Billy Idol’s “Hot in the City” came on the radio as I was driving to work. Rain slashed my windshield, overtaxing my already worn wiper blades. It was most decidedly not “Hot in the City.” Not even a little bit.
As I waited my turn in line at the Shell station, I recalled the valuable lesson in humility attached to that particular song that I learned at the tender age of 16.
On the last night of a family cruise through the Caribbean, I was bound and determined to make a lasting impression on several girls I had been flirting with during the week. What better way than a night of dancing under the stars?
It was 1987 and my outfit for the evening was the very reflection of that time: white cotton slacks, yellow t-shirt, loafers with no socks, and Don Johnson jacket with rolled sleeves.
As I left my cabin, I imagined myself walking down the hall in slow-motion 80’s music video style; come-hither glances from girls, high-fives from guys, finger-guns from members of the ships’ crew. There would also be smoke and showers of sparks, all of it set to Jan Hammer’s “Theme From Miami Vice.”
I hit the dance floor at one of the ships’ night clubs and somehow found myself the only boy dancing with a group of gorgeous girls. I thought I’d died and gone to 80’s heaven.
I broke out my best late-80’s dance move – the one where you kind of gyrate your hips, bob your head and point with your fingers. Think Hall & Oates or Belinda Carlisle
“Hot in the City” came on and I noticed a couple of the girls were looking at me and smiling. I assumed it was flirtation and I returned the favor.
The smiles became giggles and a couple of them started whispering in each others’ ears and nodding in my direction.
Billy Idol kept singing but my sky-high confidence wavered.
“What is it?” I asked the girl dancing next to me, a statuesque blonde whom I’d already decided I was going to marry.
“Oh, nothing,” she said less-than-convincingly.
“Tell me,” I insisted, hoping that it was nothing more than a discussion about who would get to kiss me first.
She leaned in a whispered, “Your fly is open.”
Dammit. Dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit!
Trying to stay cool, I said “Oh, I know,” as if walking around with your fly down was all the rage where I came from.
On the inside, I was frantically planning on stealing a life boat and making for the Bahamas where I would change my identity and live out my life hiding in a palm tree.
Deciding that discretion would be the better part of valor, I danced my way out of the night club, dashed back to my room and changed.
From there, I found a quiet corner of the ship, hid under a beach towel, and read a book. Obviously, 1987 was not ready for my brand of cool.
So thank you, Billy Idol. Lesson learned.