How did I get to be such a sultry lover man? It started with a slow jam. My introduction to the slow jam happened at a very young age in the back of my parent’s Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon. Sorry to disappoint anyone expecting a sordid tale of teenage groping. This is not one of those stories. My transformation into a romantic occurred years before I ever kissed a girl, had pubes, or fumbled around in the back of a station wagon, though I do owe the Vista Cruiser and my mom’s Saturday Night Fever 8-track cassette credit.
As little kids, my brother and I loved to ride in the very back of the wagon. Mounted into the blue vinyl interior on each side of us were huge speakers. I have never considered my mom a music lover, but she loved the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever, which was huge box office hit at the time. A young, tight-trousered John Travolta had been setting suburban multiplexes across the country on fire with his hot New York City dance moves. All of Saturday Night Fever’s disco hits were on heavy rotation in mom’s station wagon, but one particular Bee Gees slow jam awakened my inner lover man. The dreamy Fender Rhodes electric piano intro of “How Deep is your Love?” magically transported me from the back of the Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser to the disco lit Aloha Roller Palace, the local roller skating rink where the older kids went to make out.
I’m not exactly sure if I had even been to Aloha Roller Palace at this age, but my Bee Gees daydream was very vivid. In it, I’m holding hands with Michelle Zades and skating backwards in true baller style. Michelle was the girl on my little league team and about a foot taller than me. She’s facing me and her hair is blowing back as we skate together with our eyes locked. Mind you, this is all happening in slow motion under the glimmer of a disco ball. Once in a while, I pull a big plastic comb out of my back pocket and feather my hair back like the lead singer of the Bee Gees. He looks like a 70’s Jesus. As the strings swell and the falsetto harmonies of the Brothers Gibb crescendo, tears of joy fill Michelle’s eyes and we continue to hold hands, skating in slow motion around Aloha Roller Palace until the lights darken and song fades.
(Song recommendation by Nick Ito)