Betsy Shebang - Column for 9/25

The Wisdom of 1975

I just turned 35. My wife recently turned 24. She's young and naÔve, so I offer her the wisdom that comes with the adult years. For example, she doesnít understand why the song "Convoy" would ever have become popular. I explain about the would-be folk tales that became catchy pop tunes in the desert of 1975 American culture, about how my best friend Ingrum wished he had a 45 of "Convoy" so he could play it every day. I explained about the mid-seventies CB-Radio craze that followed in that song's wake, and how I used to use my Star Trek Communicator walkie-talkie to listen to my next-door neighbor Todd's mother use their CB to talk to truckers after her second husband died in a construction accident. My wife stares blankly, as if learning for the first time that as she was being born the doctors wore the skins of bison and spoke only in grunts.

She doesn't get Star Wars. I was eleven years old when it came out, and I'm not surprised by the ironic religious fervor of its following. She was six years old (and female) when Return of the Jedi first disappointed target audiences around the world. Star Wars to her is like communist hysteria or pet rocks. I never owned a pet rock. I envied kids who did.

She doesn't even get Star Trek. Sure, by 1997 there were four Star Trek series in syndication, which made it more of a pathology than a TV show. On the playground in 1975, though, Star Trek was the shit. The jungle gym became our Enterprise and each kid took on a role. Somehow I'd always wind up being Mr. Spock, which seemed like a great thing until I remembered that logic and discipline were not compatible with fun. The other kids ran around screaming and shooting mimed phasers while I struggled to portray Spock's deep-seated inner conflicts. Then I'd try to give the nerve pinch to whomever I could. It rarely worked.

My wife does not get "classic rock". I do no blame her for this. I am under no delusion that new radio sucks any more than old radio. I listen to classic rock because I hate everything and I'd rather be annoyed by something familiar.

And that, I've discovered, is the secret behind love: taking comfort in compatible annoying habits. When looking for love, dear readers, do not look for someone with "taste". Look for someone with the same acceptably bad habits you have - listening to Christmas music all year round, perhaps, or eating strange family recipes involving bananas or peanut butter. It is in these would-be embarassing moments that true love may take place. Anything else is just costumery.


Columns by Betsy Shebang