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Reading that REO SPEEDWAGON’S Hi Infidelity was getting a 30th Anniversary release this week made me think immediately of my baby sister.

How she used drive my brother John and I completely batty with this record. How she drove our friends batty too. How my already batty Mother (sorry Mom!) went deeper into Battyville that summer because of the incessant replaying of this album.

I clearly remember one afternoon a lot like today in the Northeast, record-breakingly and dangerously hot. We had no air conditioning in our apartment, hell we barely had any fans, maybe a fan in the living room and Mary (my baby sister) kept playing Hi Infidelity over and over and over and over and over and over and over…OK, you get the point, it’s annoying!

Even more annoying to me in particular was that I had discovered the album and was already a big fan of it. Until sister Mary got her paws on it. What had become a joy inducing experience became like chalk on the blackboard.

On that super hot, sweaty, sticky uncomfortable grump inducing day Mary was on replay number six hundred and seventy two by noon as I entered the kitchen looking for some grub. As I crossed the threshold from the dining room to the kitchen I decided I was putting a stop to the torture, walked over to the breakfast nook where the record player sat on the nook table, reached over and purposely dragged the needle all the way from “In Your Letter” to “Don’t Let Him Go” effectively ruining Side One.

Mary, who had been bopping around the kitchen singing went quiet briefly before beginning what had become over the years a near tradition in itself, yelling “Moooooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I walked to the fridge without acknowledging her and began pulling out the fixin’s for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Mary yelled again, “Mooooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!! Rick ruined my record!”

Mom, as usual, didn’t respond right away hoping things would blow over or we’d fight it out ourselves. Fat chance of that though. Mary never did that, especially if Mom was around. She wanted Mom to take care of it.

So she yelled until Mom came into the kitchen to see what all the fuss was about.

“Rick ruined my record!”

My Mom, who wasn’t really batty but sure as hell is funny looked me square in the eye, took my hand, shook it, and said, “Thank you.” Then left the room.

Mary was so stunned she couldn’t speak. I was so happy I couldn’t help but smile. My sister didn’t give up so easy though. She walked over to the nook, flipped the record, and began playing Side Two.

That’s when Mom returned to the kitchen, not bothering to look at either of us and made a beeline for the record player. Mary, realizing a second too late what Mom’s intentions were made her own beeline in an effort to save Hi Infidelity from what was sure to be an irrevocable death.

She didn’t make it. Mom did. That was the end of REO Speedwagon’s summer of torture in our house.

Years later I bought the LP again and still have it. I really love it too. No thanks to Sister Mary.

Names may or may not have been changed to protect the guilty.

Some dramatic license has been taken but the torture was real.


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