December 3rd, 2023
Track Suit Saturday
When I was a young teenager, two things happened that brought me a lot of freedom and fun.
One was a snow club bus that picked us up in the dark early mornings on wintery Saturday’s and took us to upstate NY or even into Vermont to ski for the day. The second was a slew of bar/bot mitzvas that often-offered buses to take people to and from the reception.
And on these buses’ things happened. Hands were held in the dark, secrets were whispered in your ear, hair raised to full attention when the boy you liked draped his body over your seat smelling slightly of body order, Coca Cola lips and maybe even a hint of a cigarette. Sometimes that boy would wiggle in, your friend would leave with her eyebrow raised and you would sit electrocuted with a boy’s leg touching while you laughed and leaned as much as you could into each other wondering if you could get away with a kiss. Those buses were always hot with hormones and left messy and empty at the end of the night with hot pointer fingers writing on icy fogged windows declaring love that would fade away in a day or two.
What this boils down to is that I spent a lot of time on party busses with boom boxes as a teenager and it is deep in my bones. Which brings me to yesterday, Track Suit Saturday, created by my friend Barry. Track Suit Saturday is a bar crawl of day on a party bus with 25 perfectly respectable adults in 70’s track suits. It started at 1 and ended around 9. And yes, that is 8 hours of drinking, which people did very well until they added the now legal edibles. I mixed it up with water but still I am feeling it today.
And it was worth it.
Somewhere after our third brewery, someone took out a boom box and started playing this song by Daryl Hall and John Oats called Rich Girl. All at once the whole bus started singing.
“You can rely on the old man’s money…you can rely on the old man’s money, it’s a bitch girl…”.
And in that moment, I was not 55 anymore but a young teen on a bus with my peers singing a song that had the word “bitch” in it. I remember being 13 and feeling the rebelliousness of singing that song, of making the B sound, sliding in a fast “it” and landing with a hard “ch”. The word bitch arrived in my life just in time for nasty girl clicks. I also remember using the word shit on the soccer field and a slow fuuuuckkk under my breath when it came to getting a grade handed back to me. I loved the thrill of having bad language I could only use only in my world of friends, a world my parents and siblings had no access to, a world that word by word I was building separate from them. To this day I am a shameless curser.
And as I sat last night on the bus watching the windows fog with our collective heat, some women took full credit for it as they hot flashed down to their tank tops, truly not giving a fuck because they were hot and drunk and happy and safe, and singing and finally feeling young again. I thought back to a world as a teen where I realized that beyond family there was something else unscripted, wilder and out of range. I remember carefully toeing up right to the edge of it, feeing the access I had to a new arena of connecting to strangers through music, dance, alcohol and drugs, of breaking rules and trying new things and having stories and secrets that were mine and mine only, of having to keep the secrets and stories safe for others. Strangely most of us on the bus are now heading into a new arena again, one in which our own kids are leaving us, a life in which we are deciding where we belong and who we want to ride there with.
And then there is the refrain…..
“Don’t you knoooowwww?, Don’t you know?….that’t its wrong ooonnggg”
And just like that everyone on the bus is really hitting these notes and singing it out loud and clear because it is an old song to us. It is the song our babysitters and older siblings played, a song we turned up on the radio, a song we all wondered, “Who was this girl, what is a bitch?” We don’t share a lot of common ground because our cultures are all so different, but music is a culture we share and a place where everyone is allowed to get on the bus.
And though it is not considered the greatest song ever, it was amazing how the bus sang it out like it was the best song ever. How even though I didn’t go to junior high, high school or even college with any of these people we suddenly time warped in our soft velour track suits with zipped up jackets and gold chains. How Scott held my hand, leaned over and kissed my neck in the dark. How I slid my hand deep into his lap just enough to remind him of what he could have had back then and what he could have latter. How in the dark, on a bus riding down Route I in Elkridge, you could almost imagine what we all once looked and felt like before the song got old.