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American Coming of Age Funny

The boy speaks

I always wished that I had grown up in the seventies. 

I don’t think that I am crazy or wrong for wanting to go back to that time. Everything we have done in music comes from that decade: rap, heavy metal, punk, electronic. Anything I missed? Oh, rock and roll. Well, they improved it in the space of one decade by letting the old dinosaurs do what they had to do while the kids grabbed whatever instruments they could and made noises that no one could ignore. Do I really have to explain this?

When I talk like this, I know that people like you hate it. You think that there is something wrong with anyone of my generation wanting to go back to a time without the Internet, cellphones, home computers (more on that), ATMs (a lot more on that) and having to research things by leaving your home and making an effort. Why would anyone want that? 

Think it answers its own question, don’t you?

I want to know that I did make an effort when I achieved something, or at least tried to do something.  I want to know that I have the chance to meet other people who are not just online names and hashtags. And I want to see a world without those stupid hashtags (would they even know what a hashtag was; my grandfather called it a ‘pound sign’ the first time he saw it).

Okay, enough about our problems. What about the problems of that time? I know some of the big things: inflation, OPEC (not sure what the letters mean, but I know it was all about oil), racism (was it worse back then?), sexism (I know it was worse back then, thanks to what you told me), terrorism (nothing new there), and disco. Not a joke. I know that there were events back then where people would actually go to a stadium to see boxes of disco records blown up (one good thing about having YouTube is seeing all that online). I would have to make a serious choice in my taste in music. 

Music! Not going to go back over all the types of it again, but I will mention the ones that I wished I had seen: the Who (before they sucked), the Stones (before they really sucked), Bowie (when he was still on this particular plain), Bob Marley (records and posters are not enough), the Clash, Ramones, Sex Pistols, the Damned (that should cover punk), Joy Division, Talking Heads, Blondie, Elvis…Costello (don’t really care about the other one), and all the others that started new wave. If I had to explain my tastes – no Led Zeppelin, KISS, or anything that my uncle still listens to when he gives me a ride downtown – I would be clear and say that I just want to listen to music that will last, not something that would make me want to become a drug addict.

Yeah, they had drugs then. They had a lot of things then that we will never get rid of. But it was all new, wasn’t it? No one knew what was going to do the most damage, right? And it was not the first time that people had been using them. I hate the hypocrites who think that the boomers destroyed everything with drug use. They had the same things in the Victorian era and they called it medicine (I looked it up). And there were other times when they were as sexually liberated as anyone alive in the seventies (Iook up the nineteen-twenties). Why blame one decade for our problems when you should acknowledge how great it was to have this one last blast; one more chance before it all went to shit.

I even like the clothes, too. Not everyone had the wide collars and bell-bottoms for the whole decade. I talked about punk, reggae and heavy metal, and you know that the fans kept their styles no matter what was in fashion. I have my own tastes and I would not want to change them for anyone. So boring now that things have become safe and acceptable and you can grab a look from any store at the mall. 

As far as I can tell, it all sucked after ’79.

(End of statement)


The uncle speaks

I cannot believe that I had to grow up in the seventies.

The kid wants it? He can have it. Someone should make a time machine and take that entire generation back for the full ten years of it and see if they really like…

Sorry, getting emotional about this.

It was not what the advertising and the history books say it was; at least, they don’t give the full story. What was really happening in the world at that time? 

Well, the economy went to shit after a point. All the great bands either broke up (Beatles, yes, but also Sly and the Family Stone, Velvet Underground, CCR, CSNY, etc.) or they had singers and members who just dropped dead (Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin, Moon, Vicious, etc.). The list really is endless. And why did that matter so much? It mattered because it meant that the party was over and we were stuck in the middle of cleaning it all up.

I am not saying there was nothing good about that decade. I just wish people were more honest about what the good times were. Everything seems to be based on the idea that things were good because of what we did not have: Internet, home computers, social media, safe spaces, trigger warnings, cell phones. Well, damn, don’t you think that we wanted all of those things? Don’t you think that it would have made life easier for all of us if we had those toys available to us? There is no way we would have avoided using them if they were around, and we would have been more than grateful.

Let me explain my life and maybe you will understand: I was 18 in 1970. That meant that I could not vote (not yet), but I could be drafted into a war that I did not want any part of and that took the lives of my buddies or left them broken, bitter and damaged (yeah, people forget that the draft was still going in the early part of that damn decade). I was a student who was good enough to go to college. But that did not matter; everyone was going to college. What I should have been doing is saving my pennies for a rainy day and not worrying about missing out on those new courses offered by very new schools built by governments who were more concerned about the older boomers (yeah, hating the boomers never goes away, not even self-hatred). Still became a teacher; still wondered why I went into it when I could have pursued something bigger. Pay was good for teaching then, a real incentive. And now, don’t make me laugh.

The hangover that was the sixties seemed to have lasted for most of the seventies, at least until people realized that they did not care anymore and wanted to just be left alone (remember, it was called the ‘Me Decade’). Disco did not suck as much as being around the same people I knew from just a few years earlier who became completely unrecognizable when they no longer thought the dream mattered (dream of the sixties and what could have been – I gotta explain this?).

Anyway, I was hoping things would change and they did, for the better, I might add. Say what you will about cynicism and greed, but at least the eighties were honest about who we were. No faking possible when you had cash in hand and a government that minded its own business.

As far as I can tell, it all got better after ’79.

(End of statement)


The old lady speaks

Those two…

I really do not understand why this all started a fight. I lived through that decade and I have very mixed feelings about the way we look at it. But a fight? Very silly…

Yes, I am an old lady, and I am going to talk to you about the seventies. Seems strange to only talk about one moment from my life. I began that decade in my forties and saw that I was not happy in my marriage. My brother’s son was looking over the news every day and wondering whether or not he was going to be drafted in a war that I never suspected would be the issue of the day. I was a housewife trying to take care of my own kids and not really concerned about the war, but I did see the protests on the news. I saw how the government lied to us. I saw how important it was to care. So, I looked at my life and decided that I wanted to make a change.

I know that this seems so common nowadays as to be the norm, but divorce back then? Insanity… People really did think I was crazy. I had a baby and a husband to take care of. He was a provider, as they used to say, and I should have been able to forgive him for the few peccadilloes he had (you still use that word?). But I was unhappy and I had to change my life. And it was easier than I thought. So many new schools and programs were opening up for people and I only had to show them my grades for high school and I was in (glad that I kept those transcripts hidden away). Afterward, I had to start small, but I soon became my own boss. Selling properties is not hard when you believe in yourself. It really isn’t at all. And the rest is financial history.

Oh, dear. The seventies. I said I would talk about it. I loved the way it began…for me. I am not so sure that I enjoyed the way it ended. And yes, I did enjoy and partake in all the vices and stupidities of that time. We still had hippies in society who believed they could change the world with love and weed and those communes. That was the reason why I never worried. I met an old friend who was involved with property that hippies wanted to rent and take care of, and they were perfect for what I planned. You see, I had very little when I left my husband, and he did not even contest me keeping the baby (he really thought I would come back once I saw how difficult it was to raise one without his money). But those hippies were there. Best babysitters you could have had. And nothing happened in my four years of university to make me think that I had made a mistake. She was soon able to walk to school, draw pictures and become a proper nuisance when I found a place for us. Perfect.

Yeah, I liked most of the music. Never revealed to the family my love of rock and roll. Never thought they would care about my opinion. Pink Floyd was good after a long day of studies (play ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ when you have an exam the next day; it helps), the Who for planning negotiations (made a deal on some apartments after repeated plays of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’; it works), punk for difficult moments (thank you Johnny, Joey, Patti, Debbie, Sid and Strummer), funk for weekends (Ohio Players forever!) and Neil Young because, why not (Sheila still tells me he’s her favourite).

But as I said, I am not a fan of the end of that decade. I could see what was coming in the eighties. By that time, I was well established and had a decent income coming in, and I liked my life. Now, you might think that I would welcome the ‘Greed Decade’ and the behaviour of governments who believed that their job was to get out of the way. No. I was not worried about that. I was worried about us. We were already forgetting all the traumas and stupidities of our time and the seventies were going to become a bad footnote. 

Nostalgia? I refuse to commit to either side.

I just wish 1979 was not the end of something but the beginning.

Thank you.

(End of statement)

October 03, 2020 00:15

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1 comment

Matthew Eubanks
23:12 Oct 10, 2020

I always like the idea of using varying perspectives in stories. This would have worked better maybe as three perspectives around a single event. As it is I do feel like it is reiterating some stereotypes of the decade. I'd be interested in multiple perspectives on a less well known aspect of the decade.


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