Rock ‘n’ Roll High School 79: From Jethro Tull to The Ramones via a crush

RamonesToday’s RNRHS post (#79, by the way…I wonder if I’ll make it all the way to #100?!) is from fellow romance author Amy Jo Cousins. I don’t usually play favorites when it comes to these posts, but this one is just way too adorable for words. I think we can all relate to the ways in which a crush changed our world view, whether it was new music or old movies or some funky cuisine that we totally pretended to be familiar with while we scanned the menu for anything that looked even REMOTELY normal. My biggest leap for love in high school was deciding I would be preppy. It lasted three weeks, sophomore year. My crush was a year ahead of me and so unattainable, but I was sure that if I just started wearing penny loafers with argyle socks, sweater vests and button-down oxford shirts, that he would have no choice but to fall in love with me. Didn’t happen, that girlfriend of his wasn’t going anywhere, but he and I did become friends and realized we liked a lot of the same music. Romance thwarted, I returned to my Midwestern semi-rebellion of wearing torn jeans, Chucks, and winged eyeliner. My friends were so happy to have me back on Planet Earth.


Amy Jo Cousins

Glenbard West, Glen Ellyn, IL, Class of ‘89, Currently: Joan Wilder-ing

Band and/or song that reminds you the most of high school: Man, I’d love to say something hip like Sinead O’Connor or Naked Raygun (both of whom I thought were weird when I was in high school…she was bald, which perplexed and scared me), but I just wasn’t that cool. If I am completely honest, I had quite a thing for musical theater and film. Especially bad musical theater and film. As in, I can still sing all of “Cool Rider” from Grease 2, because my best friend and I watched that movie about a hundred times freshman year. Also, I can do most of the songs from The Chorus Line, particularly “Let Me Dance for You” and “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three,” aka the tits and ass song. It’s funny that I didn’t think about this when writing When the Lights Go Down, because the conversations about high school/college plays could have been way more fun. “If he’s cool enough, he can burn me through and through, whoa yeah!”

Band that you hated that everyone else at school seemed to love: Bon Jovi, Bon Jovi, Bon Jovi! I spent a couple of years working in a karaoke bar in my early 30’s and have since been converted by the awesome performers who belted out Bon Jovi nonstop on contest nights (not to mention, Jon Bon Jovi was totally hot when he had that part on Ally McBeal), but I was not a fan in high school. My best friend was a full-on Bon Jovi groupie, so I’m not sure I ever said this out loud before now, but Slippery When Wet? Bored me to tears.

Best show or concert you saw in high school: I had a crush on this one boy all through high school. Okay, I actually forgot about him for most of sophomore year, but then my brother started his freshman year when I was a junior and he joined the gymnastic team. My old crush competed on that team too, and let me tell you…put a guy in a spandex tank top and some skintight pants and whooee! I was back in love. So, via a bit of hallway eavesdropping, I learned that my crush was a huge Jethro Tull fan. Of course, I became a huge Jethro Tull fan too. What a coincidence! (Turns out I still am. Jethro Tull is effing awesome. Locomotive Breath! Aqualung!) This was the late 80’s, mind you, so we were already late by almost two decades for the height of the band’s popularity. In any case, when they toured my senior year, I got a ticket and a whole group of us, including my crush, went to the concert together. It was at Alpine Valley, an outdoor concert venue just across the border in Wisconsin. I sat on my blanket and tried both not to stare at the albino gentleman right in front of me and not to get a contact buzz from the clouds of pot smoke. I was successful at the task requiring manners.

Favorite piece of music memorabilia (poster, t-shirt, etc.) in high school: That same crush of mine was also a fan of The Ramones. Having impressed him with my coincidental Jethro Tull passion, when he found out I’d never heard of The Ramones, he made me a cassette tape of their songs. Even someone as desperately uncool as I was in high school couldn’t help but recognize that “I Wanna Be Sedated,” “Blitzkrieg Bop,” and “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” were classics. Think I still have that tape in a drawer somewhere.

Best high school make-out song: I really dove into the kissing thing in college, being a shy and retiring sort in high school. But I did make out with a super sweet guy named Dwayne, because he played “She’s Like the Wind” from Dirty Dancing for me. Dwayne taught me how to drive stick (NOT a metaphor!) during the brief time we dated, a gift for which I will be forever thankful.

WhenTheLightsGoDown (2)Amy Jo Cousins writes contemporary romance and erotica about smart people finding their own best kind of smexy. She lives in Chicago with her son, where she tweets too much, sometimes runs really far, and waits for the Cubs to win the World Series. Her latest, When the Lights Go Down, is out now. Visit for further info!




4 Comments on “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School 79: From Jethro Tull to The Ramones via a crush

  1. Being a preppy! I shall continue my personal confessions by admitting that I actually bought (and read cover to cover) The Preppy Handbook when I was a freshman in high school. I *think* I recognized that it was tongue-in-cheek, but I was also fascinated by that world, so very different from my suburban, Midwest, middle class background. My mother was absolutely firm in her refusal to pay more for a polo shirt (an article of clothing that I had never previously wanted) just because it had a little alligator on it, or I would have Izod’d myself up in no time!

    Thanks for having me, Karen. This was a blast. 🙂

    • OMG, I had completely forgotten about the Preppy Handbook! I totally read that. Multiple times. The whole part about hanging the tie on the door if you were having sex in your dorm room? That seemed like the most foreign, exotic concept ever. All I could wonder was what those mysterious tie-hanging people were doing behind that door. I guess that’s how I got here!

      Thanks for being here, Amy Jo. I loved every word of your post!

  2. OMG! The guy who taught me to drive a stick–and he’s a whole, big long story in himself–was a big maker-outer and I spent many hours in the cab of his truck listening to Air Supply.

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