Monday, June 17, 2013

My Hair Prompts Musings on Cultural Touchstones

I haven't gotten a haircut in well over a year.  I cut my own bangs (seriously) and then leave the rest to whatever deity is in charge of hair (Artemis?  Thor?  Krishna?).  My hair is long enough that I am coming dangerously close to sister-wife territory except for how I dye it blonde every six weeks using whatever light golden blonde hair dye is on sale at CVS, which I think is probably frowned upon in whatever religion has sister-wives.

But the thing is I'm 44 years old now and have never, hand to god, EVER, gotten my hair cut and liked it for more than 15 minutes.  It's just so much easier to ignore it and shove it in a ponytail or, if I'm putting my big girl shoes on, a fancy side braid or something (I am an excellent braider which would have come in handy if I had been a sister-wife because then I could have been in charge of plaiting leather things for sale at craft fairs which is something I imagine sister-wives do).

This morning I did a high ponytail because it's hot and can't stand things on my neck when it's hot.  I was walking through the office and my long ponytail was swinging side to side and I thought to myself, "Jesus.  I probably look like some middle-aged wannabe Marcia Fucking Brady."

And that's when it hit me, like a punch in the face, that if I'd said that aloud to one of the twenty-something paralegals who share office space with us, they'd have no idea what I was talking about.

And that just blew my damn mind.  It is beyond my ken not knowing who Marcia Brady is.  It's like not knowing who Jesus is.  Marcia Brady looms that large in my consciousness.

When I was a kid I'd come home from school and watch some barely tolerable syndicated 60's sitcom on one of the three (THREE!) channels we had.  So did everybody else.  That created a whole linguistic shorthand for us that younger (and, for that matter, older) people just don't grok. Thanks to cable and DVRs and the like,  kids today come home from school and aren't limited to whatever syndicated sitcom a network can afford... they can watch shit they really like (even if it's so much worse than The Brady Bunch... I'm looking to you, Victorious).   This shared anachronistic televised cultural vocabulary may well be limited to Gen X and Gen Y.

This grand revelation occurred to me around 10:30 this morning.  Throughout the rest of the day, as they occurred to me, I chronicled various figures from afterschool sitcom viewing that provided for broad cultural touchstones for my generation. Here's a fun exercise: let's say I've met someone at a party and was telling you about them by saying, "She/He/They remind me of {fill in the blank with one of the names below}":
  • Eddie Haskell 
  • Barney Fife
  • Potsie
  • Gladys Kravitz
  • Lucy and Ethel
  • Ginger or Maryann
  • Danny Partridge 
  • Jan Brady (sigh... I always felt like a Jan)
  • Arnold Ziffel
  • Darren Stevens
  • Major Healey
  • Buffy and Jody
  • Jethro Clampett
  • Ellie May Clampett
  • Miss Jane Hathaway
  • Sergeant Shultz 
  • Colonel Klink
  • Gomer Pyle
  • Uncle Charley
  • Nellie Olsen
  • Helen Hunt on PCP
If this doesn't ring a bell for any of you, I guess I should tell you to get off my lawn or something.  But that's not really how I roll.  There's no virtue to be gleaned from watching too much TV as a tween.  But it was a nice shorthand when I was in my 20s and was out amongst my peers.  I'm sure twenty-somethings nowadays have their own thing.  This is all to say that I am only reminiscing and am not, yet, a grumpy old man. Like this guy - which is probably something else you kids don't remember: