Andre goldMy friend Bill has done a great job of amassing MP3s of pop hits from the 1970s. For Christmas one year he gave my wife and me 10 CDs stuffed with top 40 songs from that decade, everything from “Brandy” by Looking Glass to “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road” by Loudon Wainwright III. A few of those songs have made their way to my iPod.

Today I heard “Thank You for Being a Friend” by Andrew Gold. Every time I hear that song I laugh. I can’t help it.

The song came out in 1978. It wasn’t a huge hit, stalling at number 25 on the Billboard charts. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) I was a senior in high school at the time and I remember hearing it a lot on the radio. I probably hated it a little bit.

Here’s why the song makes me laugh. It goes back to a band trip back in the spring of 1978. The high school band members, myself included, were all loaded aboard a classic yellow school bus, heading to some band competition in New Hampshire. The bus had some speakers hitched up to the radio, and the driver had tuned to some Top 40 station that was playing all the hits. I remember hearing Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” in particular. On some songs we’d sing along.

Anyway, “Thank You for Being a Friend” comes on. People are singing. Near the end, the song goes into this quiet passage, where Andrew Gold sings:

“And when we die and float away
Into the night, the Milky Way
You’ll hear me call as we ascend
I’ll say your name, then once again
Thank you for being a . . .”

And there’s this pause, a little moment of silence, which was pretty rare for a typically hyperactive top 40 radio station.

So, as I said, some people are singing along. One of them was a somewhat goofy underclassman. Instead of pausing with the song, he just charged on, loudly and obliviously He sang:

“Thank you for being a DINK!”

That great word, “dink,” filled the little moment of silence all by itself and just hung in the air. And then everyone on the bus just exploded with laughter. Utter hilarity. People were slapping their seats and falling over, doubled up. Never before or since has the word “dink” been deployed so well, although in this case somewhat inadvertently.

“Dink” is such a great word. It’s a New England term meaning, essentially, “jerk.” This was long before it became an acronym for “double income, no kids.” A typical usage would be, “Stop being such a dink!” Or simply, “You dink!” “Dink” has fallen out of usage in the years since, although Bill tells me he’s doing what he can to bring it back into the vernacular. He might be succeeding, too, because I recently ran across it in a Boston Globe article about the Red Sox, when columnist Eric Wilbur referred to former first baseman Adrian Gonzalez as “kind of a dink.”

So when the song started on the iPod this morning I immediately started chuckling to myself. When it reached the pause after “Thank you for being a . . .” I laughed out loud and slapped my hip. Haw! Anyone watching me might have thought I was crazy. But I wasn’t. I was just being kind of a dink.

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