The Final Countdown

Because it seems incomprehensible that I could be pregnant until 40 weeks, and beyond possibility that I could go even further, this pregnancy now has a maximum time limit of 27 days from today.

Perhaps for that reason, or perhaps because my friend and I played much 1980’s Trivial Pursuit in Josh’s absence, I have had Europe’s 1986 single “The Final Countdown” stuck in my head for going on 24 hours. I don’t actually know much about 1980s pop culture, I realized, except inexplicably in the news category. I apparently paid far more attention to politics than anything else as a kid, because if the answer was Lloyd Bentsen or Nicolae Ceausescu, I was set. Just don’t ask me anything about Debra Winger or Def Leppard.

If I were doing blog mimicry, and representing Niobe, this post would have stopped simply with a YouTube video.

For being fairly unconscious of the world outside my Lego collection for most of the 1980s, I have strong memories of certain events. Many of them are not even remotely accurate – a good argument against oral history that tries to do much beyond explore memory. For example, the execution of Ceasescu, in my memory, happened at precisely the same time as a wall fell in Germany, which is not so off, but did you know that the Romanian dictator’s worst crime was scooping out his enemy’s eyeballs with a spoon? And that around the time he and his children were being executed by communists, reporters from NBC were taking the first tour ever of the Hermitage? And of course there was Oliver North and the return of our “hometown hero” from his stint as a hostage in Lebanon, heralded for me by a field trip to an airport populated by cheerleaders and high school bands. Such would be the story if we trusted a little girl from the midwestern US to tell it.

Every such story needs a soundtrack: a crazed medley of The Final Countdown plus Scorpion’s Winds of Change. Which about captures the nature of my memories of the period. I was old enough to realize, and people were constantly telling me, that we were living through significant times – times of great change. But as for what was changing, I hadn’t a clue. It’s a blurry mess in my mind, characterized by loud music and tears for a past I hadn’t experienced and a future I wasn’t even imagining.

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12 responses to “The Final Countdown

  1. 1986 was a long, long time ago. An eternity, really.

    But I guess things haven’t changed as much as I thought they had, since my theme song from way back then was Prefab Sprout’s *Appetite* — “wishing she could call him heartache, but that’s not a boy’s name.”

  2. All I can say is, LEGO???!! Holy shit, you’re young. And I’m old. Off to break out my Violent Femmes CD and wallow by my “Officer and a Gentlemen” poster (Winger, BTW). Funny (not so much ha ha), but an argument actually broke out between two of my committee members at my defense about my decision NOT to use memoirs/pension applications written, at times, 40-50 years after the fact because my work was so based on words and meaning of the time. I really need some metamucil, now.

  3. Erin, Birdies Mama

    I will forever think of you when i hear “the final countdown”……you know I really like that song, in a cheesy nostalgic kind of way!

    the final countdown huh? Wow girl……you have come so far.
    i look forward to your next post.

  4. I was in HIGH SCHOOL in 1986. High school! Also probably still playing legos as well, but in a secret, I’m-obviously-a-freak sort of way by then …

    “The Final Countdown” synthesizers were playing over and over in my head until I forced myself to sing Journey’s “Anyway You Want It.” Now that song is stuck in my head instead, but at least it’s happier than “Final Countdown.”

    (And truly, I’m glad things are going well enough for you to talk 80s music with your readers!)

  5. Oh, I’m not that young folks. I was 12 when the 1980s ended. But even Josh and I have re-discovered the feeling that two years, nothing now, is a significant age difference in some contexts. It means the difference between having been a fan of Thriller, or having had nightmares from it.

    Wabi, I’d have loved to have played Legos with a high school girl!

  6. and six years is the difference between having been a fan of thriller and having had nightmares of a different, more blase sort (oh my god, that’s so lame! what a nightmare!) from it, it seems.

    loved this post but hate that my brain will be singing hair bands all night now.

    and Niobe, i had forgotten “Appetite” for a long time, until i randomly heard for the first time in almost twenty years right after Finn died. i clung to it for a little while.

  7. 1986 was a somewhat significant year in my life, but my soundtrack of that year is in another language and much different tempo. And yes, two years at the time was a chasm.

    Soon, so soon.

  8. We just watched the video of Prefab Scout’s King of Rock N Roll. I was really baffled by it. I love the 80s because it was such the time that pop culture and surrealism collided. I’m not sure how I was supposed to read the song or the video, which was disconcerting. Anyway, Niobe, thanks for turning me on to them. I can’t say I liked it, but I feel more knowledgeable, nonetheless.

  9. It’s Prefab Sprout, love, not Scout.

  10. Somehow the 80s seem much more recent than they actually are. In fact, I am always amazed that I go to school with some born towards the end of the 80s. A very scary thought.

    Another thoughtful post, my friend.

  11. Oh hon, I was in my first university at the end of the 80’s! You are younger than us, no doubt.

    You know what will be hilariously funny? If you do go right to 40 weeks and have to be induced. Even a little induction…I’m so going to laugh about that.

  12. Oh yes, that would be hysterical Aurelia. Or I would be hysterical at least.

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