Walking After Midnight: My Playlist to Avoid or Enhance Being Murdered
I wouldn’t say that I avidly make risky lifestyle choices. For the most part, I live in routine and only every once in a while will I stray from that to explore a ditch or two, hoping to find treasure or a body or more treasure. But one thing I have made a reckless habit of is staying on my college campus so late that it leaves me no choice but to take the ten minute walk home at midnight or 1 or 2am. I honestly rather prefer it to walking home in the daylight, when I have to see people and their dogs out in their yards and I try to avoid eye contact with both.
It feels safer at night, even though it probably isn’t.
Often when walking back during these times I contemplate the heightened risk of being stabbed and having my body discarded in the river–a river that is so contaminated I would never have swum in it while I was alive. The ultimate tragedy of this is although it might give me something to write about, logistically speaking I’ll never be able to write it.
I will admit, I am scared of dying in such a gruesome way, but to cope with this idea, I listen to ’80s music. If I do get murdered I don’t know how it might make my death better–having the last things on earth I hear be an extensive use of synthesizers–but it does diffuse the situation a little bit.
In one sense, it’s denial. I turn up the Footloose soundtrack to ignore the fact that I, as a college-aged female walking in a suburban area after midnight, am an ideal candidate to become a statistic. But sorry, serial killers, I can’t hear you over “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” and singing both parts to “Almost Paradise.” Which now, come to think of it, may actually benefit them.
Some songs I’ve found to be better at drowning out the underlying fear than others. For example, while “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is amazing, it doesn’t help to hear someone singing “turn around” repeatedly when you’re already afraid that there is someone following you. And “Every Breath You Take” is a bit of a creepy song to beginning with, but I almost start to believe the threat that The Police (the band, not the actual police) are watching every move I make.
In another sense, I think listening to ’80s music while walking late at night is potentially ironic, so it makes me excited for the prospect of someone attempting to kill me rather than dread it. I mean, can you imagine listening “Take My Breath Away” while you’re fighting off someone trying to strangle you? Or bleeding out as you listen to “Can’t Fight This Feeling”? You’d be looking at all the candles in a window, warmly lighting the inside of a house, while the snow falls and you lose consciousness.
It’s poetic, I think, to take your last breath lying broken on the sidewalk with your music falling limply from your hand. And while the tape in the metaphorical walkman continues to turn, so does the world.
Retreating from my dark sense of humor, though, I firmly believe that ’80s music is the soundtrack to adventure. The Goonies listened to Cyndi Lauper before they encountered the decaying corpse of Chester Copperpot and found treasure. Marty McFly was cruising to Huey Lewis and the News before he went back in time and made his parents bearable people. If we were to weigh the evidence and think about this, the songs of Cyndi Lauper and Huey Lewis and the News are clearly the doorways to adventure. To put it simply: if there is a synthesizer, anything can happen. It’s the “Power of Love” and knowing that the “Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough” that gets me home, but it’s also those songs that leave me open to the possibility of a detour.
That’s not to say that I want to die, but to have an excuse not to write a paper for the next day does sound enticing.