Ever hear a song that reminds you of a very specific time and/or place in your life? There are many songs that when I hear them I associate a part of my past with.
For instance, take the Tone Loc song “Funky Cold Medina”.
Back when I was a kid, my brother and I used to visit our grandparents in Cleveland (this was before we moved there when we were just a bit older). I remember hearing about this place downtown called “The Arcade“. Now, for any pre-teen growing up in the ’80s, the word “arcade” led to salivation and the mind ran wild. “Do they have a new version of Donkey Kong? What’s the newest racing game? Think they have multiple Dragon’s Lair machines?” The reality is that the Arcade in Cleveland was nothing more than a mall, and not even a good one at that (no book store or record store that I can remember). I honestly don’t even remember what was in the Arcade but I know it was a total letdown … at least until we rediscovered it when we were in our late teens.
Kids around the high school would talk about getting fake IDs and always list off a few places where you could go get “legal” fake IDs (“For amusement purposes only”, but of course). There was a place on Lorain Road in Rocky River near The Real Flash Gordon’s (where I saw Pantera on their Vulgar Display of Power” tour) but supposedly the place with the most realistic fake IDs was a place in the Arcade. Now, we weren’t dumb enough to think that these would be foolproof fake IDs but we knew that there were a few carryouts in downtown Cleveland and Lakewood that would pretty much accept any form of ID with a photo and a birthdate that stated that the owner of the ID was over 21, even if it was an out-of-state “identification card” rather than a license.
A few of us went down to the Arcade when we were 17 figuring that it wouldn’t hurt to have a fake ID prior to heading to Florida on Spring Break. When we entered the store, it was packed with teenage kids all there with one thing in mind – scoring an ID that said they were 21. We did our homework, we knew we were going to get Illinois “identification cards” and we all picked out the same city and found out the Zip code for that city (Oak Park, Illinois) so that when we all went out together in Florida, the door guy wouldn’t wonder why he was getting so many Illinois IDs from people living in so many different cities.
After getting our photo taken and our ID card issued, we headed out to a Convenient store in Lakewood to test the IDs out. This particular store was on the “safe” list – one of the places that would sell you beer/wine coolers as long as you presented some form of ID that said you were 21. I rode with my buddy Lucks who, if memory serves correct, had a *real* fake ID – an Ohio driver’s license with his photo on it but with his age listed as 21.
I will never forget pulling into the parking lot, Tone Loc’s “Funky Cold Medina” pumping through Lucks Firebird stereo, my stomach tied in knots because I was worried that the guy behind the counter would snatch away the ID (issued to “Charles Miller”) that I had just secured 15 minutes before.
We entered the store, Lucks went to the beer cooler and retrieved a 6-pack of some flavor of beer (probably Busch Light as that seemed to be the beer of choice back when we were seniors in high school) and I grabbed a 4-pack of Black Cherry wine coolers (yeah, yeah, I know … wine coolers … what can I say? A bad experience with Coors Extra Gold turned me off of beer for nearly a year). When asked for our IDs, the two of us – both 17 years old – handed the guy our IDs and waited as he inspected them.
To be honest, I was a little surprised that he accepted my ID and rang up the wine coolers. Did it really work? Did I really just buy alcohol even though i wasn’t of age? I think it took me 15 minutes to fully accept the fact that my fake ID DID work. Of course, a bit of bad luck did strike a few minutes later as we pulled into the driveway of the person’s house that we were going to be partying at that night – the handle on the wine coolers broke and 2 of my bottles smashed when they hit the ground, leaving me with just 2 coolers from my 4-pack. But, it was a victory nevertheless.
I don’t think I ever worked up the nerve after that night to use the ID again. I had too many friends who had become pros at pulling off the “Sure, I’m 21” attitude when they bought alcohol and I could always count on them to buy beer (or wine coolers) for me.
But, still, whenever I hear “Funky Cold Medina,” I remember sitting in Lucks’ car outside of the Convenient store in Lakewood, trying to build up enough nerve to go inside and attempt to use my fake ID.
If there is a song or album that takes you back in time, send the story to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Depending on how many responses I get, I’ll try to post a new “Soundtrack of My Life” every week or two.