The middle of February and we’re on the verge of one of the most confusing, nay tricky, times of the year for most married guys like me. Valentine’s Day. I say “married” specifically because young single men can always go to something romantic, which can be reasonably straightforward. And if all else fails, they've got their memes, emojis, and apps to do it for them. But for those of us who've been together for 25 years, Valentine's Day gets a little more complicated.
Granted, my wife does indeed respond favorably to romantic stuff, but she appreciates it more if it comes on spontaneously. Like an unexpected surprise kind of thing. That being said, I don't have a clue as to how we'll celebrate Valentine's Day this time. Other than maybe a gift of microwaveable fluffy slippers or a new hot water heater (don’t ask).
I’ve always heard dinner and dancing is a good way to commemorate the date, but there again, I was never much of a dancer. My wife, however, doesn’t find it too difficult.
Personally, I am not the dancing sort of person, but growing up, I knew about all the dances du jour from Top 40 radio. There were songs about the Frug, the Pony, the Swim, the Mashed Potatoes, the Bird, the Cool Jerk, the Twist, and the Wah-Watusi. Not to mention the Hully-Gully, which survives today when you see people noodling out there on the dance floor. There was also the Madison, which evolved into the country-western line dances, as well as the Hand Jive, which made a comeback of sorts as the Macarena.
There's still singing and dancing, and guys are still posing, and girls are still cavorting. Not much change there, except maybe for the state of undress. "Shameful," my parents would say. "Those dang fool kids and their rock 'n roll and jumping around like wild animals."
But I got to thinking, way back before I was born – and I did my homework on this – those same parents, when they were teenagers, were jumping around with their dang fool Jitterbug. And what about that wacky Charleston? Or the gymnastic Lindy Hop?
I discovered those old dance crazes from my penchant for watching '30s and '40s Hollywood movies, plus you can see them all on YouTube, just like old-timey videos.
That big band music was pretty hot, too, a real departure from what popular music was before jazz came into the picture. I can imagine the old folks back then saying the same thing some parents are saying about popular music these days, and my parents when I was a teenager.
They say those were innocent times, decent and straightforward.
But I’m not so sure. I mean, from what I hear from other people who were in school in the fifties and sixties, it was a pretty bizarre, if not perplexing, time. You had that Cold War thing going on, and you were reminded over and over at school that "the bomb" could happen at any time, and you only had a few seconds warning. Kind of made one a little uptight.
It’s no wonder rock ‘n roll caught on in the midst of all that. A little bit of tension release.
But then if you watched TV, you got the idea that everything was just fine and dandy. Nothing ominous or scary.
Sure, television and movies kept to a code that was appropriate for that time – music too – but that kind of goes for now as well. Taboos back then covered things like not showing Elvis swiveling his hips or showing married couples only sleeping in twin beds, never in a double bed.
That was all 50 years ago, but today we still have taboos on TV and in music. I was thinking, what's taboo now may not be taboo in 50 years. Shudder the thought.
Wait, am I sounding like an old fuddy-duddy?
Anyway, besides being the season of groundhogs, Mardi Gras, and candy hearts, we’re entering Girl Scout Cookie Season. Mmm...the season of shortening. In the 1960s My older sister Diane was one of the top Girls Scouts in her troop. She sold her cookies by knocking on doors around the neighborhood, but these days that sort of entrepreneuring is deemed unsafe, and now they hawk their confections in front of places like Walmart. Of course, some enterprising Scouts usually come around to the newspaper office with order forms and that’s when the moment of truth arrives. Do I go with Thin Mints (again) or Samoas (again)? Or be reckless and invest in a whole box of Lemon-Ups or Toffee-Tatstic? Maybe the humble shortbread cookies or S’mores knock-off. Decisions, decisions.
I’m guessing there’s probably some psychological research going on somewhere that’ll reveal one’s personality based on which GirlScout cookie they like best.
Me, I like ‘em all. The real question is: how many can I eat at one sitting?