I remember the day so vividly. It was 25 years ago when an earworm inched its way into the deepest recesses of my feeble teenage brain and permanently entered my subconscious. Sometimes late at night when I’m alone, I still faintly hear this dreaded tune, taunting me from beyond.
It was the summer of 1988, and the day started like so many others. I curled, feathered and Aqua-Netted my hair until it was a sufficient height of five inches, tied on my forest green L.L. Bean apron, and headed to my retail job at the store. After clocking into work, I began folding a mountain of plaid turtlenecks in the Women’s clothing section. My co-worker, Lisa, yelled from her corner by the registers, “Yo, Darla! Whassup? What song is it today?”
“Riders on the Storm,” I said, shaking my head.
“Ooh! That’s not so bad!”
“Yeah, but it’s only the part when the rain and thunder crash and Jim Morrison is ominously singing so…yeah….it’s a bit unnerving…” I plopped a small heap of flannel nightgowns onto my station. “How ’bout you? Whatcha got today? Anything really bad?”
“It’s Pour Some Sugar On Me,” she groaned.
“Yikes. Sorry,” I offered.
“I’ve had it in my head for days. Only the chorus. Over and over.”
“I wasn’t aware there was more to that song but the chorus.”
“Well, it’s driving me stark raving mad,” she said while walking over to me. “I’m heading into my second week with this thing.”
“Eh. I’ve heard of worse,” I said while stuffing a pair of camouflage long johns into a plastic sleeve. “You remember my friend Mike? Yeah, well, a few years ago, he had “Jingle Bells” playing on a nonstop loop in his head for like, five months.”
“I haven’t spoken to him in awhile. No one knows what happened to him. I think he ended up going to see a therapist.”
“Tragic, ” Lisa put her elbow on my table and leaned forward, resting her head in her hand. “Sooooo….what’s the worst song you’ve ever had stuck in your head and for how long?”
“Oh, no, no, no, no,” I chuckled. “I’m not fallin for that, Lisa.”
“C’mon!” she slammed her hand down. “What was it? You can tell me! Maybe that song will replace this Def Leppard song!”
“It’s already playing in your head, isn’t it?”
“No! It’s not! It’s–” I picked up a stack of Bomber hats and stormed off, Lisa following close behind. She grabbed my arm.
“You’re gonna regret it.”
“You don’t realize the power of this song! It’s gonna ruin your life! Just let it be, Lisa! For the love of all that is holy! Let it be!”
“Just tell me what the song is!”
“God! Ahhhh! Fine!” I slammed the hats down onto a shelf. “It’s I’m never gonna give you up!” I yelled, my voice carrying across the store. A few customers glanced our way, scowling. I lowered my voice into an angry whisper. “Never gonna let you down! Never gonna run around. And desert you!” I put my head in my hands and began to sob. “Never…gonna…make you cry…” I continued to sing, my voice quivering. “Never gonna say…goodbye…ah! Make it stop! For god’s sake, make it stop! Why, Lisa? Why did you do this to me? Are you happy? Cuz I sure hope you’re happy! At least Def Leppard’s outta your head now, right?”
“Hmm….” Lisa sighed and scratched her head.
“Nope, nothing. Still got Pour Some Sugar On Me. But thanks though, Darla. You tried.”
“I hate you.”
And so concludes my cautionary tale about the day the worst earworm in the history of the universe descended upon my soul never to give me up, never to let me down, never to run around and desert me.
You’ve got it in your head now, too, don’t you?
What’s the worst earworm you’ve ever had? How long did it last? What’s in your head right now? Maybe it will replace Rick Astley!