I took the small bus to school. Yes, I was a passenger on the Loser Cruiser…but this wasn’t any old ride, it was the one that had the handicap accessible doors that would allow a kid in a wheelchair to jump on board. There were about 8 kids on the bus and not one of us was mentally or physically disabled. That was just the way we rolled to school in 3rd Grade.

Mr. Wagner was a relic out of the Old West, but only if he came out of the tail end of it. Cowboy boots and hat were part of his daily attire as he drove from the strip mall parking lot that acted as a bus stop. First day of school comes and the only person I know on the bus is my sister. With my sky blue, plastic Inspector Gadget lunchbox I was a shoe-in to make tons of friends.

Brad, like me, was a bigger kid. Big bush of curly brown hair sitting on top of his head. We were in the same grade and we hit it off pretty quickly with our shared love of Inspector Gadget and ability to cast ourselves out of the normal social circles.

I don’t remember why I was saving up for my own radio. My Dad had one in the bathroom and he would listen to music while he was showering. He wouldn’t listen to the radio as much as he would his mix tapes. After being rewarded with some cash for good (not stellar) grades, my Mom took me down to Montgomery Ward to see if they had anything on sale that I could buy. I had about $30 saved up and went looking for something more along the lines of a Ghetto Blaster than something that would be more sensible for my needs.

After realizing that my budget would have to swell ten-fold in order to purchase what I wanted, I lowered my expectations. I turned the corner of one of the aisles and found a recently-reduced Magnavox D7140. It wasn’t what I was originally looking for, but it had everything I needed:

  • Tape Player
  • AM/FM Radio
  • Carrying Handle
  • Telescopic antenna
  • Power Cord
  • One speaker (Two would have been ideal, but it wasn’t meant to be)

For some reason, I thought it would be a great idea to bring my new boom box onto the bus and I could share my musical tastes with the rest of the bus. Mr. Wagner was cool with it. Mom and Dad seemed to be cool with it as long as I bought my own batteries with my own money.

Armed with 4 C-Cell batteries, I took my new toy onto the bus, almost gloating, and sat down next to Brad.

“It’s not Show & Tell today, is it?” Brad asked.

“No, I brought this to listen to on the bus!” I replied and hit the play button.

I had been listening to Duran Duran’s Arena non-stop and once more around the cassette’s wheels wouldn’t hurt. It was cool. It made the bus trip go by much faster.

Then, Brad brought his own little boom box on the bus. Okay, I can deal with some competition, it’s known to be healthy. He had also bought the latest Duran Duran album and every morning we would start the tape from the very beginning by counting down from 5 after we rewound our tapes to the very beginning. It was cool for a bit, there would be one speaker blaring “Save A Prayer” or “Union Of The Snake” in the front of the bus with another doing the same in the back. We couldn’t play the music in school, not even recess, so we would leave our machines on the bus with Mr. Wagner while we should have been learning.

I don’t know what started it, but Brad and I started to wear on each other. We started having a pissing contest on who had the better tape player with a few insults about our maternal upbringings thrown in for good measure. He would say that his stereo was better and I would defend my little Magnavox D7140.

One day, I had the bright idea to say that his batteries were making Duran Duran sound awful (I could be a little shit if I wanted to). After we got to school and Brad got off the bus, I went over to his machine and hit rewind for a couple of seconds. Mr. Wagner confronted me and asked what I was doing.


Fast forward to the end of the day when we get back on to the bus and get ready for the ride home. I was still angry at Brad for what he said about my boom box. I had worked hard for it, paid for it with my own money and wouldn’t let anyone sully its good name. We both counted down from 5 to start the music to listen to on the way home. We hit play and the only thing that was coming out of our speakers was discordant. Brad turned to me:

“What did you do to my stereo?”

“Nothing, I didn’t touch your stupid radio.”

A few choice (for 3rd graders) words were said and from the front of the bus Mr. Wagner bellowed, “That’s it. No more radios on the bus. Take them home tonight and don’t bring them back.”

His tone was serious and we knew there were no “ifs, ands, or buts” that would change his mind. No more Duran Duran on the way to school. Mr. Wagner had spoken. When we were strapped into the Loser Cruiser, it was his bus and his rules.

Is There Something I Should Know?4:34
Hungry Like The Wolf4:01
New Religion5:37
Save A Prayer6:12
Wild Boys4:19
The Seventh Stranger5:06
The Chauffeur5:24
Union Of The Snake4:10
Planet Earth4:31
Careless Memories4:08
Girls On Film5:59