James McNally is a blogger and film programmer. He runs a quarterly short film screening series in Toronto called Shorts That Are Not Pants (link to:http://www.shortsnotpants.com). You should check it out.
It was the summer of 1979, and I was on my way to Zounds! with my mother. I was 14 and it was just the two of us at home. My dad had moved to Texas the year before on a two-year work assignment. It was okay. We weren’t that close.
Mum and I hung out a lot, even went to the movies together. One weekend, I suggested we go to Zounds!, an incredible record store in Scarborough. It was ten times the size of the A&As at the Parkway Mall, and despite us having to take a couple of buses, it somehow seemed closer than a trip on the subway downtown to Sam the Record Man. Zounds! was also a lot cooler. I remember joining the Q107 “Rock Patrol” on another visit and getting a really great badge for my jean jacket.
Once we were there, we split up and she probably gave me an hour and maybe a dollar amount I could spend. She was cool like that. But I was about to test how cool she really was.
I’m pretty certain I’d heard the song on the radio already, but when I saw the sleeve of the 45, my trembling hand reached out almost involuntarily. There was a girl on the sleeve, an incredibly sexy girl. With a shag haircut and a white tanktop. And. And. And you could see her nipples. I was buying this. I’d figure out how to tell my mum. How tough could it be?
I’d already hung the poster from Queen’s Jazz album up in my room the year before, the one with all the naked women riding bicycles. She hadn’t said anything about that, right? This felt different, though. It was just me and her, and I was asking her to buy this for me.
To be completely honest, I don’t know what I said. I may have just handed the record to her sheepishly. Maybe I remember a raised eyebrow. But when we got home, I had the record in my Zounds! bag. I quickly threw it on the turntable in triumph. Mum had to admit it was a catchy song, though I hoped she wasn’t listening to the words too closely. Something was running down the length of the singer’s thigh, and we both knew Sharona’s nipples had everything to do with it.