#76, "Take A Chance On Me," ABBA (1978)

I am privileged that at this point in my adult life, I can't count on both hands the number of women to whom I feel extremely close. At the risk of using a cliche to drive the point fully home, these are my sisters. This is particularly nice to be able to say looking back at my twenties, when most of my friends were men. I think that women and femmes have made a real effort to forge these bonds as we look at catty/competitive stereotypes of the past and willfully reject them. Men don't seem to have these relationships and I don't know where I would be without them. 


One such sister is Emily McGlynn. Tragically, she decided to step away from Facebook a couple of years ago, so I will have to email this to her. I met Emily in 2013 or so, as the wife of the person Pete worked with most often at Crooked Beat. She was part of a larger group of friends whose primary commonality is that they were all vegan and would throw these brunches and movie nights built around a vegan menu. They lived two blocks up the street from our old apartment, which made them our only friends in the neighborhood.


The four of us quickly became very very fast friends. One particularly sloppy night, at a Twin Peaks-themed Halloween party, Emily and I were by ourselves at the bar ordering another round for the group when she grabbed me by the arm and said "we have to be best friends." I was confused. "What the four of us? We already talked about this--we are?" She was like "no, you and me. We have to be best friends." So it was written. 


Emily loves ABBA. Emily also loves Beck and old country music and Jonathan Richman and can lay out an extremely compelling argument for why you're factually wrong if you disagree. Emily is an original. When I found out that she'd never seen Muriel's Wedding, we made it this big thing where we would watch it for the ladies and then Good Will Hunting for the guys. I was so excited to finally show Emily Muriel's Wedding, I waited for months with great anticipation. When she finally saw it, I think she just thought it was pretty good, but put on a nice show for me. 


So yeah when I think of ABBA, I think of Emily and it's a very good feeling. "Take a Chance on Me" is my favorite, though I'm pretty sure the first version I heard was Erasure's very competent cover version (also if you haven't seen both videos, please change that). There's a class of song I call an "Incel Anthem" where the perspective is from someone who feels entitled to unrequited love. I actually have a soft spot for these songs, which I think goes back to my formative years during which I kind of identified with them or at very minimum appreciated the humility. This one doesn't count because it's mostly sung by women, but it really has the same basic plot. 


I've been listening to ABBA since I got the Gold collection via Columbia House during high school. It was kind of a jokey/irony thing, but I always genuinely appreciated them. I went with my grandma to see Muriel's Wedding in the theater after school one day. A bunch of my friends were at the theater to also see Muriel's Wedding. My grandma encouraged me to go sit with them. I was like "no, Gram, I'm here to hang out with you" but she insisted, so I did. I guess she didn't know there would be so much sexy time in the film and said afterwards that she felt relieved we weren't sitting together during the sexy time. Oh, Gram. It would have been way less awkward if you'd just not mentioned it. 


Two final thoughts. The scene in the Office in which Andy invokes this song with his two Here Comes Treble pals on speakerphone to try and woo Angela represents the only time Andy Bernard used a capella for good instead of evil. Also, back in the winter when we were allowed to do such things, Johnny and Sarah came over to watch a movie and after it finished, we watched this top-ten ABBA songs YouTube bit. It was a good memorable time. "Take a Chance on Me" came in at number TWO, ahead of "Mama Mia" and behind "Money, Money, Money," a ranking I can't begin to understand. I'm still a little mad about that.