So I waited with high hopes, then she walked in the place.
I knew her smile in an instant, I knew the curve of her face.
It was my own lovely lady, and she said, "Oh, it's you."
And we laughed for a moment, and I said, "I never knew..."
The very first line in this song ("I was tired of my lady") is perhaps one of the most evocative opening lines in all of popular music. Instantly you're transported to a world of ferns and polyester, of shag carpets and variety shows, of a newfangled concept called the "personal ad" and lounge lizards who use the phrase "my lady". The world of Larry from Three's Company.
This was the last number one song of the seventies, and such phrases keep the song firmly rooted there. A current remake of the song would surely involve references to match.com or eHarmony, but that would strip away some of the dated cheesiness that is essential to its charm.
You know the story: a man loses interest in his lady, reads a personal ad of someone who seems more interesting, arranges a meeting with the new lady, discovers that this new lady is none other than his current lady, then laughter and a happy ending. They don't make story songs like that anymore.
Now it's almost unfair to rag on the lyrics when Rupert Holmes himself admits in the song that "I'm nobody's poet" and allows only that the lyrics aren't "half bad" (no boastful rapper, he). Still, if I were the woman walking into the bar, discovering that not only is my boyfriend planning on cheating on me, but he's about to find out that I was planning on cheating on him, I'd probably react a bit more strongly than an oddly emotionless "Oh, it's you". It irks me that Holmes delivers the phrase with a shrug, when it's the freaking climax of the song!
I'm also a bit skeptical about the happy ending. I can accept that they laugh about the situation and make up instead of launching into the mother of all fights right there in the fern bar. But anyone can see that the relationship is doomed. After the piña coladas wear off, what then? Back to a crippling lack of communication, boredom, and the personal ads, I'm afraid.