Tuesday, 3 September 2013

First birthday party featuring "Wildcats" and Chris DeBurgh

It's funny how music, movies, TV, and pictures can conjure up memories.

Growing up, I had friends, but you could never say I was popular or cool. When I entered high school, I wasn't at the top of anyone's list for parties. That was fine by me because I had a lot of other stuff to occupy my time.

Things did change in Grade 12, as we got to know each other, and I got invited to my first birthday party in a loooong time.

It was my friend Mike’s birthday party on Saturday, Nov. 15, 1986. I remember the day clearly because it was also my brother’s birthday, and he was home visiting for the weekend from Calgary with his wife and eight-month-old daughter. We were actually in Lethbridge earlier in the day. It was the beginnings of winter and I had earned my driver’s licence not too much earlier. I fretted about driving to that party in Coaldale, afraid the roads might be bad.

On the drive home, my brother assured me they were fine – and he was right.

The party was hosted by Mike’s girlfriend and sister, at his house in downtown Coaldale. It was an intimate gathering in the living room, but I knew everyone, and it was a lot of fun.

A couple of friends, had just come back from the first ever provincial high school football championship. All season LCI, the biggest high school in Lethbridge, had terrorized high school football, winning all their games and allowing exactly zero points. They were not were not well liked, but everyone thought they were a lock for the provincial championship. Up to that point, there were regional leagues, but no overall championship. That year was the first, although Calgary was still pouting and did not participate. That meant it was north versus south for the title, until Calgary joined a few years later. Salisbury Composite High School from Sherwood Park was the opponent and they dominated LCI on a windy day at the Sportsplex in Lethbridge. I laughed out loud when I heard the news. That was awesome.

The conversation was awesome. So was the food. It was pretty low key, and we did what you did in those days. We watched a movie. The conversation about football was the perfect set-up, because the
movie we watched was "Wildcats", starring Goldie Hawn, and three young, up-and-coming actors: Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes, and Mykel T. Williamson. This was before "Cheers" for Harrelson, "Forrest Gump" for Williamson, and "Blade", "Demolition Man", and "Passenger 57" for Snipes. Hawn played a female high school football coach, trying to balance family and football, and battle sexism. It was a good football movie.

The Chris DeBurgh album that
brought the world "Lady in Red",
"Say Goodbye to it All",
and "Fire on the Water".
The present
The reason I’d gone to Lethbridge earlier that day with my brother was to buy a birthday present for Mike. I had Chem 30 with Mike, and one day he mentioned really liking a Chris DeBurgh song, so I bought him DeBurgh’s latest album, “Into the Light”. It had “Lady in Red”, “Fire on the Water”, and "Say Goodbye to it All" on it. The next week at school, after class he told me he really liked the tape, pointing out all the liner notes that were folded up inside.

Parting thoughts
This was my first birthday party since junior high, and I will remember it fondly for the friends and the movie. But more than all that, I felt like I belonged, that new and different people wanted to hang out with me. And that feeling is absolutely priceless. Every time I hear Chris DeBurgh, or see a rerun of "Wildcats", I think of that mild November winter night in 1986.

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