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This much is true: How Spandau Ballet nearly saved then crushed a 16-year-old's heart

tony_hadley.jpgSpandau Ballet's Tony Hadley (real name: Tony Hadley ... heh-heh ... actually Anthony Hadley) is probably going to have a better day today than the rest of us. Well, that's probably true most days when you're an icon of the New Romantic movement in music. I imagine he'll be awakened much like Eddie Murphy in Coming to America. (Clap-clap ... "wipers!")

It's no secret to those who follow Stuck in the '80s that I'm a Spandau Ballet nut, but have I told the story about how that came to be enough times? (If so, just fast forward to the music video. Everyone else, gather 'round the campfire.)

Back in 1984, as a junior in high school here in beautiful Clearwater, Fla., I was faced with a tough decision one weekend. 1. Stay home and watch Valley Girl, which was making its debut on Saturday night on HBO. 2. Go out with the beautiful Robin, with whom I'd had a crush on for nearly a year. 

I chose Robin. You can decide after the story whether I chose wisely.

It was a typical date for teens of that era. Dinner, followed by a trip to The Cavern Club, a teen-only dance club in Tarpon Springs and one of the only places outside the mall or a movie theater where teens could hang out. To be honest, she intimidated me. She was razor-sharp smart. Beautiful in a girl-next-door sorta way -- if that girl was also slightly mischievous. And she had a wicked sense of humor. I, on the other hand, had a nice car. That's about it. My confidence, shrinking with each new song the DJ played, prohibited me from asking her to dance. Finally, True by Spandau Ballet came on, and I was a man again. Well, a 16-year-old male anyway.

I took her hand, led her to the dance floor and for 5 minutes and 32 seconds of my life, I was in pure bliss. Everything around us became a blur, thanks to her perfume and the overall magic of 1984, and I suddenly was The Most Accomplished Dancer in the World. Tony Hadley, it turned out, was my wingman. Never before in life was I so close to having exactly what I wanted. Victory at my very fingertips. And then the song ended.

We went back to her house and she invited me inside to watch TV. For reasons that boggle my mind to this day, I declined. I stood poised at the door, wanting the goodnight kiss. I wasn't going to be deterred. Tony had set me up. The boys in Spandau Ballet had my back. It was my time. This was the place. And so I stood my ground.

For two hours.

Yes, we stood outside her door FOR TWO HOURS. It was like Kennedy and Khrushchev. But neither of us blinked. The spell cast by dancing to True was slipping away. Tony's magical hold on us was slipping. He was trying; I could tell. But it was too little, too late. I slinked away -- unsatisfied, unloved and unkissed.

I went home, watched Valley Girl, which was rerunning again at 2 a.m. and found solace in the story of a roguish guy named Nic Cage trying desperately to capture the love of his young life, Debbie Foreman. ("We'll meet again someday, Debbie, won't we?" I vowed.)

That would be the only date between Robin and me. We'd later become friends again when my college roommate Dana began dating her -- and let's just say that my mind got pretty warped in those weeks, listening to Tony Hadley work his magic for someone else. Sleeping in the room next to Dana, I know this much is true: He got a lot more than a goodnight kiss.

And so, dear readers, I ask you: Is Spandau Ballet's True a curse or a blessing in disguise? Can you ever shake off the shattering a heart endures when you're only 16 years old? I know this much is true too: I hope not.


[Last modified: Thursday, June 2, 2011 9:10am]


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