Thursday, May 17, 2012

the summer of Donna Summer


1980 was the summer of Donna Summer. Donna Summer's slow burn grooves were the gears toothed precisely to the 70's/80's cusp. "Bad Girls" would come on the bus radio and ol' Clifford that drove our route would crank it, go a little fast down this one back Houma road that would send us all bouncing out of our seats.

I also have a vivid memory of one particular babysitter who liked to practice her disco moves on my mom's little rickety stereo going a little too deep on "Love to Love You Baby", losing herself in it three minutes in, a brunette strand hanging over one eye and the other rolled to the ceiling, imagining a disco ball or cocaine or a groovy main man with medallions, anything besides our apartment's chat carpet and two weird kids to watch and her own baby asleep in a carseat in the other room.

One day this babysitter got a mid-sitting better offer and took off, calling her drug dealer friend to come take over. I don't remember if the baby got left with my sister and me in the weird half-hour interim until the drug dealer arrived. The friend showed up about twenty minutes later looking like a Cajun member of the Runaways. She had a homemade tattoo on her arm that said "REFER" burned on with an eraser and cigarette lighter.  "That's my boyfriend's name, 'Reefer'. Or at least what everyone calls him."  Even at 11, I knew reefer wasn't spelled REFER, but didn't know how to broach the subject.

My mom got home from work pissed. No one considered notifying her of this shift change. The original babysitter was already on thin ice - my mom suspected her of stealing and didn't like that she brought her own baby with her. Abandoning her post was beyond the pale, though we did stay with ol' REFER for a bit until someone else could be arranged, and one day REFER dropped us off at her mom's hair salon to hangout for the day which was AWESOME. We got free unauthorized haircuts of our choosing and ate all the candy Grandma REFER had out for customers. I remember reading a big kids picture book of American folklore she had lying around the magazines that contained the story of a Pilgrim family being tortured by poltergeists, and Grandma REFER gave it to me.

My mom secured less fluid babysitting arrangements for the rest of the summer so we never got to go back. But I remember one day pulling open the lid to the record player to find that one babysitter's copy of "Love to Love You Baby" still on the spindle, and feeling that we'd won.

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