Cufflink of the Week

June 5, 2018

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If I were to ask you what the most iconic music video of the 1980's was, what would your answer be? Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer"? Michael Jackson's "Thriller"? Madonna's "Material Girl"? I bet you a bag of stale donuts that some of you would answer A-Ha's "Take on Me." I loved this video for several reasons. First of all, it was completely unique. There were no other videos like it. Videos seemed to fall into three main categories back then. You had the grainy black and white "behind the scenes" concert footage that 80's hair metal bands loved to employ. "Hey, look, we're fun loving guys who enjoy twirling drumsticks backstage!" Then, you had the videos that involved heavily choreographed masses of dancers supporting the primary artist. Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation" comes to mind. (By the way, if you have way too much time on your hands, go watch Joseph Gordon Levitt lip sync that song. You'll thank me later.) The third group were the videos that told a story and provided an interesting narrative.

 

"Take on Me" is my favorite video of all time because of the juxtaposition of contradictions -- a print medium interacting with real life and a Scandinavian rock band mixing with 80's Americana diner culture. Back in 1985, when this video came out, I wasn't commenting on any of that nonsense. I looked at these guys and realized "I gotta stop letting my mom cut my hair." The only bowl haircut I could find on MTV was Paul Simon, and he wasn't exactly on People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive contender list, was he? A-Ha was the epitome of cool to me. European, great hair, and unafraid to butcher the English language. A-Ha would have to be Yoda's favorite band. Can you imagine a montage featuring Luke Skywalker running through the swamps of Dagobah with Yoda on his shoulder to this song? In my mind, if it's good enough for Yoda it's good enough for me.

 

Now I know that the video featured motorcycles, but I was also enamored by the concept of riding around with a helmet, goggles, and a scarf. This look is hard to pull off driving a wood paneled station wagon, but it is absolutely perfect for a roadster. My love affair with convertibles started around then. It just looked so cool to be driving around with the top down, with a beautiful woman in the passenger seat, and not a care in the world. For a kid in Buttlick, PA, a convertible was a pipe dream. In 1985, my dad decided he was going to go to law school, and with three kids to support, our vehicles of choice were a Colt Vista station wagon and a Mitsubishi Colt. Come to think of it, what the fuck was the whole Colt thing about? I made a promise to myself when I grew up, I would have a convertible.

 

When I met my ex-wife, she was tooling around in a Mazda Miata. That was my first experience in a convertible, and all of my childhood ideas and expectations were 100% accurate. The wind felt exactly like I thought it would. Feeling the sun on my face was precisely as I had imagined. The impossibility of lighting a cigarette going faster than 13 miles an hour, literally how I practiced it with my Radio Flyer wagon and Lucky Strike soft packs back in 1986. That car served us well until my wife decided she should get t-boned by a pickup truck and it was time to go get another car. That was when I was introduced to the next vehicular love of my life. BMWs. My first car I ever bought was a Mercedes and I realized I was 20 years too young for that car. I mean, it was nice, but it practically drove itself. I needed that helmet, goggle, and scarf vibe I had fallen in love with so long ago. An MB 190E just doesn't do that. They used them as taxis, for Christ's sake, in Paris. Although, Parisian taxi drivers, like any global city taxi driver, definitely can provide a thrilling and scary driving experience.

 

I love these cufflinks because they remind me to hold on to my childhood ambitions. I have realized many of them and more have yet to be attained, but there are quite a few having resulted exactly how I imagined them to be. I'm glad I wanted to have a convertible as an adult. I'm glad that 10-year-old Derek could stick around long enough for the Mazda Miata, the BMW Z3, and now the BMW M235 convertible. For eight years, I haven't driven around with the top down zipping around without a care in the world. Last week, I changed that. Slipping into the seat, hauling ass, and desperately trying to light my cigarette, I smiled and tipped my hat at the kid watching A-Ha, who was determined one day to be like those racers in the video. When I wear these cars on my cuff, I'm inspired to see what other dreams I had so many years ago that I can make come true. Besides, having cufflinks of boobs isn't professional, and Brooks Brothers doesn't make titty cufflinks anyway.

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