Baby’s got blue eyes

For longer than I care to admit, I’ve known that “baby’s got blue eyes”. How blue? Well, like a “deep blue sea on a blue blue day”. I know this because somebody at Dad’s work had taped Elton John’s song ”Blue Eyes” on the same cassette tape as Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra” and while I was a much bigger fan of Steve’s gang than Mr. John, sometimes I wasn’t quick enough to press “stop” and listened to Sir Elton’s ballad, too.

Steve Miller’s Abracadabra was cool for two reasons: First, I liked the songs, they were melodic and had – I thought – some interesting phrases and I’ve never liked a song, no matter what the melody or beat is, if the lyrics are goofy. Secondly, that was the album they played at the local hockey team’s games during intermissions.

Don’t know about you but for me, being able to mouth the words to all those songs by heart as I walked around the rink looking for familiar faces, was pretty cool.

I don’t remember how I got the tape, and I don’t know who made it and for all I know, I may have made it myself, but I don’t think so. That it was made in Dad’s store is certain, because that’s where most of my tapes were made – and especially all the tapes I made myself – because they had dozens of record players there.

Dad’s store, all of them, have always been my safe haven and my daycare.

When I was a toddler, Dad used to make me hockey goalie’s masks at the downtown Helsinki store and then spray paint them black. The smell of spray paint still makes me want to make a nice toe save. The guys working at the store were my biggest heroes and the only thing I wanted in life was to be as cool as them.

The coolest trick I knew was to run up the three stairs that were, surprisingly, inside the store, open the door and keep on running to the delivery truck, or to the warehouse, or to the lunch cafeteria – all in one motion.

One day, I figured I was big enough to do it myself but I missed one part of the cool trick. The opening of the door. Instead, I run right through it and got small cuts everywhere.

A few years later, Dad was working at another store, a couple of kilometers down the road from the first one, and across the street from my future dance school … but that’s another story. The second store was just as cool as the first one, and  I thought – in a much better location with a second-hand comicbook store just a couple blocks from there, and a bakery with the best lihapiirakka in town a block down the street. And a record street at the end of the street.

The second store was where I first played a video game. We called it “tennis” but it must have been Pong. That’s where I saw the eighth and ninth wonders of the world, too: a microwave oven and the VCR. They changed my life. I could now get my lihapiirakka warmed up at home, while watching TV shows from the day before or the week before.

In the summer of 1981, we moved to Joensuu, and I moved into Dad’s third store. That first summer, Diana and Charles got married and I remember Dad put the wedding on on every single TV set in the store, creating a strange royal effect. On  one TV, Diana and Charles were sort of pink, and on the one next to it, more blue.

That was also the day I taped Rainbow’s “Difficult to Cure” on a yellow BASF cassette tape.

A year later, “on a blue blue day”, I found the Steve Miller tape in the store. Four years later, I worked at the store as a mediocre appliance salesman. (My actual title).


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