When I first moved to the U.S., I didn’t have a green card. As a result, I spent a lot of time wandering around the neighborhood that I’d just moved into, purposefully not doing anything that would cost any money, because I didn’t really have any money; I had, after all, just moved to the U.S. and didn’t have a job yet.
I also found myself spending an extraordinary time watching daytime television, because what else was I supposed to be doing? (I mean, yes, there was that whole “getting the green card sorted out” thing, as well as the various other immigration shenanigans, meetings and requirements; I was doing both of those as well, don’t worry.) As a result, I am left as someone in the year 2020 with an entirely irrational nostalgic attachment to “Cleveland Rocks,” as performed by the Presidents of the United States of America, also known as the theme music to The Drew Carey Show.
It’s not that I really loved The Drew Carey Show — honestly, at this point, I can barely remember it beyond the vague shape and the fact that Craig Ferguson played an uptight boss, in what felt like kind of counter-programming considering Ferguson’s own personality. But that theme music…! I would try my hardest to be in front of the television just to catch the theme every afternoon when it played. I couldn’t explain why at the time.
I can’t explain it now, either; there was something about the way that it built that won me over every single time the guitar started — something about the line “Living in sin with a safety pin,” too, for some strange reason, the connection between the two things that felt as if they should be contradictory, or at least disconnected, as if it were some kind of magical spell.
There was something unfamiliar but inviting about it, and the fact that it repeated daily and was one constant in a time where there were few constants made it even more inviting and appealing; so much so that, more than a decade later, the song drifts back to me in memory and I feel such a surprising connection to a time I hadn’t thought about in a long, long time.