David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 51: Prince (Little Red Corvette)

June 16, 2020

Not too many people would associate a little red corvette with a Greyhound bus.  For me, I associate both the car and the song. It's also a trip down memory lane, when memory lane is scarier than 10 Cloverfield Lane, even in a time of quarantine.

In May 1983 I get on a Greyhound bus in Boston for a long all-night trip to Morgantown W.V., switching busses in Pittsburgh. I am just 21, wrapping up a visit of my friend and his fiance, and must have been too cheap to fly home (I flew to Boston on People's Airlines, and my friend for the trip, also a poor college student, flew back on People, so how cheap must that Greyhound ticket have been?).

Within minutes of settling in my seat, I hear the strains of "Little Red Corvette" from somewhere behind me on the bus.  At that point, I was vaguely aware of Prince, as after all "1999" had already made the Top 10.  I hadn't been overly impressed by "1999" and I still associated Prince with some frail, bad moustache-fronting waif who'd had the dance hit "Controversy," a few years earlier. I am pretty sure I still don't know Prince was an individual, but instead a band, scrounging for the recognition of a name similar to Queen.

However, as I hear the faint strains of "Little Red Corvette" that evening in the Boston Greyhound station, I am actually kind of pleased. The synth and drums are enticing, especially when the song bursts into "it was Saturday night/I guess that makes it all right" as entree to the chorus, a great guitar riff thrown into the mix. I even have made a mental note to buy the album when I got back to Morgantown.

However, the song ended and immediately started up again.  "Dude really likes this song," I think. And then it repeats for a third time.  At this point, I figure I need to turn around and identify the culprit.  When I do, I find some guy slumped down in a seat about four rows back with headphones on.  Yes, I was hearing the song through the headphones across four rows of bus seating. I rolled my eyes and figured, "well, you knew an all-night Greyhound bus trip would not be without a challenge."

Right before we pull out of Boston, "Little Red Corvette" maybe on its fifth play, the seat next to me is taken by an attractive middle-aged woman. She introduces herself as Lauren, I introduce myself, and we proceed to chat informally. It's going to be a long trip (she was going to Pittsburgh), so some good conversation isn't the worst thing in the world. Certainly the place to start was with the tilting of my head toward the seats behind us with the question, "Hope you don't mind Prince all night?"

As the night goes on, the conversation becomes more of flirtation, Lauren seems more forward, I feel more anxious, and freaking Prince just keeps going through the night: "Believe it not, I started to worry/if I had enough class/But it was Saturday night/I guess that makes it all right/you say, 'baby, have you got enough gas?'" I am sure by about 1:00AM, my commitment to buy 1999, to ever listen to Prince again without intense anxiety, is long gone.

The flirtations led to light petting, a little smooching. I remember anxiously looking around the bus to see everyone completely passed out. Headphone guy probably had fallen asleep and maybe Prince had stopped, but in my head, it was now non-stop "little red corvette/baby you're much too fast/little red corvette/you need a love that's gonna last." I know there was opportunity, but you have to realize that even though I had traveled a lot, I was not particularly worldly, definitely not a risk-taker, and frankly a little concerned about a middle-aged woman with interest in me. I took to heart Groucho Marx's words that he wouldn't want to be in a club that had him as a member -- or something a little cruder than that. (There you go!  See, this blog is about "Little Red Corvette," with some pretty provocative lyrics, and I am avoiding member jokes . . . kind of.)

The story doesn't get any juicier. None of my stories get any juicier.  Maybe Lauren "had a pocket full of horses/Trojan," but I wasn't going to find out.  I seem to remember that when we stopped in Scranton, most of the passengers awoke to go into the local gas station, and when they came back, it was early enough in the morning that most stayed awake until Pittsburgh.  I know I felt tremendous relief when we got to Pittsburgh and I went to get my bus to Morgantown and Lauren drove away. She had left me her phone number. I never called it, although I certainly thought about it. "What have you got to lose," Prince echoed in my head for days. Yet, I never called that number and I don't know if I ever knew Lauren's last name.

Like Prince, hopefully she even changed her name. I wonder if she hears "Little Red Corvette" and thinks about that dorky college kid from WVU. He eventually could listen to Prince again; he has never taken Greyhound again.

"Little Red Corvette." 1999. Prince. Warner-Brothers. 1982. Link here.

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Day 52: Holly & The Italians "Rock Against Romance."

See full unfinished list here.