the things parents do for love

The Time: June 1984

The Place: London, England.

The Cast: Me, a twelve year old daddy’s little girl, donning acid wash Guess jeans with pockets on the knees and my hair in a high and tight ponytail angled just perfectly on the right side of my head, who would’ve much rather been back in the States hanging out at the mall; And my mom and dad, two well meaning parents who were hell bent on seeing EVERY cathedral EVER erected.

The Occasion: A European Vacation, as full of high jinks and high drama as the 1985 movie, which was probably based somewhat on this very trip.

Cut to our closet-sized hotel room, where a pint-sized me stood staring pleadingly up to my dad. Zoom in on the brochure in my right hand; a brochure for the “Duran Duran Fan Club” located in Birmingham, England.

Being only twelve years old, the words, “One hundred and sixty kilometers out of the way,” did not register. All I knew was that I was in the homeland of my idols and nothing was going to shut me up until I touched their home turf.

Cut to my dad, trying hard to fight the good fight, staring at his map of England, and weighing the consequences of driving 160 kilometers out of our way, just to go to visit a silly fan club hub of some of the strangest characters he had ever laid eyes on.

Only two months prior my parents had accompanied my friend Zoe and me to the Duran Duran concert in San Diego. They had witnessed first hand my undying pre-pubescent love and longing for these weirdos in black leather and died, long hair.  They had been accomplices in the wallpapering of my room with Rio and Ragged Tiger posters and had paid for my extensive vinyl collection of every Duran2 album known to man. So my dramatic pleading to stop by their HOME of Birmingham, England should not have been a surprise.

I begged and pleaded.

And somehow, they caved.

After ten consecutive days of riding in the back seat of our rental car, listening to my walkman blasting Duran Duran music, I was finally going to get MY vacation highlight and maybe even hear them sing in person.

I clutched my Fan Club brochure, the one which identified me as a LIFETIME MEMBER, and stared longingly out the window wondering which cheek Simon LeBon was going to kiss upon meeting me (though my Bonnie Bell chapstick was cherry flavor, just in case he decided to plant one right on my lips). Thoughts of what I would say and do in their presence filled my mind as my nerves began to push my breakfast up to the point of danger territory.

Pulling into Birmingham, England, home to the synthetic superstars that had permeated my every waking moment for at least a year, I was a bit disappointed; It certainly was not as beautiful or awe-inspiring as all the cities we had previously visited. But that was none of my concern. “Just get me to that fan club,” was my only thought.

As the car came to a slow stop in front of an industrial storefront covered with graffiti, I asked my dad, “What are we doing?”

“Well, Mary, this is it.”

“Huh? No way!” I looked to the line of store fronts, double checked the address on my prized LIFETIME MEMBER FAN CLUB brochure that was by then wet and crumpled from being gripped in my hands during the excruciatingly long car ride and then methodically cross-checked each number. Sure enough, that was it.

I hopped out of the car, ran over to the single mail slot just left of the door, turned to my dad and said, “Well, do you think they’re inside?”

I can only imagine what must have been going on in my parent’s minds. They knew full well the devastation I was about to feel and there was no way they were going to stand for that.

My dad said, “Well, yes, maybe. Let’s knock.”

The three of us proceeded to pound on the door like a Summer Solstice drum circle. My dad shouted down through the mail slot with his booming, deep voice, but to no avail.

Dejected and devastated I turned to walk back to the car. My dad gave one last yell and then turned towards the car as well.

Just before we reached the car, the door opened up and a young hipster popped her spikey-haired head out. She looked at us with annoyed, questioning eyes. We all but jumped on her. My dad proceeded to tell her why and what we were doing there and how FAR we had traveled to see Duran Duran. I provided the sweaty brochure as exhibit A. She looked at the brochure, looked at us, back at the brochure, back at us, and opened the door.

With her multiple piercings and studded pants she led us down a circular metal staircase to…a mailroom. No lie. A mailroom.

Posters of all sorts of contemporary artists filled the walls, not just Duran Duran, but also David Bowie, The Clash and the Pet Shop Boys. Though I was not in the presence of Simon, Nick, John and Roger, I was in heaven. She proceeded to give us a tour of the punk rock mailroom and put together a swag bag of sorts with every bit of Duran Duran paraphernalia they had lying around.

Twenty-six years later I don’t have any of those swag items, except a few buttons in a box and a crumpled up poster in the bottom of a keepsake trunk. But what I do have is the memory of my parents agreeing to take me there, despite the inconvenience and inanity of it all, the anxious drive there, the pounding on the door. That day was a gift to me in so many ways. I will never forgive them for letting me wear such a hideous outfit, but I will cherish the memory of that day, and all that it stood for, forever.

And I wonder what kinds of crazy things I will do for my girls when they start chasing boys and pining away for superstars. Well whatever they are, I can’t wait.


This post was inspired by a PROMPTuesday from San Diego Momma a few weeks ago. She asked about a favorite childhood vacation story and this is the first thing that came to my mind.



  1. 1
    Chelsea says:

    For my fifth birthday, all I wanted in the whole world was to see snow for the first time. Problem: we lived in Maui, and there was no snow on Mauna Kea that month. My parents shipped me off to grandparents in LA. They drove me to the nearest snow-capped mountain, where I created the ugliest snowman in history.

  2. 2
    ELizabeth says:

    People are great. Your parents are great. And I am inspired to keep doing the off the ball things I find myself doing because I see it really means something to my kids.

    ps I love your blog

    • Mary says:

      I love that you just said, “off the ball.” And thanks for saying that about my blog, E! Means a lot to me.

  3. 3

    Awesome!! I love Duran Duran! In 1984, I was 19, and probably at the end of my “new wave” hair & clothing phase as I had started working. But really, they, their music, played a huge part in my life during my high school years.
    Yours was a fantastic experience.

  4. 4
    Sherri says:

    Laughing at the Bonnie Bell cherry chapstick comment! This reminded me of the time I was 10 years old and we took a trip from Ohio to California to visit my Grandmother in San Pedro, California after my Dad won $10,000 on a scatch off lottery ticket in 1976. My parents drove 6 kids cross country in a station wagon (talk about a scene out of Vacation!) We stopped at every tourist attraction along the way too. We visited Universal Studios and it just so happened Parker Stevensen and Shaun Cassidy were filming the Hardy Boys. I was so sure I was going to see them, and Shaun would spot me out of the crowd, take one look at me, and fall in love with me. No such luck. Our tram drove by the street they were filming on and there was no sign of anyone. I remember vividly… the street resembled India! Sorry, I wrote a blog on your blog! Your story elicted a memory in me that I had totally forgotten about. :)

  5. 5
    theresa says:

    I love that your parents did that for you! What a great memory, even if you didn’t get to kiss Simon. I hope that one day I can do the same for Ellie.

    I love the San Diego sweatshirt!

  6. 6
    Ramona says:

    My Mom always did things like that for me but the memory that stands out in my mind is her driving me in a snowstorm to the mall in Edmonton, Alberta (where the hell is that you Americans ask?…) for a meet and great with an 18 year old Wayne Gretzky who was supposed to be some up and coming hockey star. He had just signed to the Edmonton Ollers and I believe the year was 1979.

    The coolest thing for me as an adult was getting to pay her back for all those wild goose chases – her dream was to see Celine Dion live (as is all good Canadian women) and I surprised her with orchestra tickets on a trip to Vegas…she literally cried the entire performance…..

  7. 7

    Totally tubular dude. That story was out of this world.

    Did you remind your parents of this or is a story that they would never let you live down. You ain’t kidding, what parents do for love. Too cute. Too lovely.

    You do have the best 80s stories. Keep ‘em coming. I love reading them.

    I hear the Beiber calling. :)

  8. 8
    Molly says:

    This is such an incredible story. Seriously, like out of a movie incredible. I loved it.

  9. 9
    Helena says:

    I really liked reading this story. You sure can paint a picture with your words.

  10. 10
    Reggie says:

    Gosh, I wish I would have had that inotomafirn earlier!

  11. 11
    http://www./ says:

    Thought it wouldn’t to give it a shot. I was right.

  12. 12

    I'm glad to have hear about this conference. Maybe next year I can go. I'm so jealous that you got to hear James talk and all the Buffy related stuff. OMWF sing a long. What is better than that? so much fun!

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