The wonder years 


Whereas this column was supposed to detail the pratfalls and pistol whips associated with the ironically silent, clearly modern Blue Man Group (the greatest drag show ever, according to local gay sloganeers, Watermark), the joke just didn't seem funny anymore. Sure, there was the standard hiccup-and-giggle ass-showing of my shoulder-rubs with the Sentinel folk -- they like me, but do not want to talk to me. Funny. And then there was the concern that, hey, maybe the worship of a band without melody and with Hitler-esque directives flashing on a screen above the stage ("Hold up your hands!" No!) is just sad. Then it hits me: I have nothing to write about. Fancy that.

No, for me, the epiphany comes in the hangover. It always does.

Swabbing up Niagara-like night sweats, I sit here on the couch, miserable, next to a black smock and some blue grease paint -- method writing, I call it -- when it hits me. It wasn't always this way. There was a time when I wasn't fantasizing about Al Franken masturbating on Bill O'Reilly, or shuffling through postmodern attempts at contextualization -- like this, see. There was a time when I, dear reader, was young and happy.

And barring a well-publicized obsessive-compulsive disorder involving sundry teen-mag pinups in the '80s, that time for me was the '70s. I used to even enjoy the smell of leaded gasoline while waiting in the energy-crisis lines with my mom. Never would have guessed that.

Well, thankfully, VH-1 is once again on my tragic-nostalgia wavelength. They're running a marathon of '70s glorification, "I Love the '70s," all day, and I can only imagine that most other latch-key dilettantes are manning the same position as little old me -- catatonic, and on the couch. So grab a Nehi and witness as I recalibrate my being with another superfluous journey through days gone by. Nice days gone by.

Admittedly, '70 to '71 are something of a nosebleed for me, seeing as I wasn't born and my parents were clearly on drugs. Leftovers from "Sesame Street," "Hee Haw" and Judy Blume were not lost on my upbringing, however, nor were hot pants, "H.R. Pufnstuff" or "The Electric Company" (Sh. It. Shit.). So I can enjoy the early decade without actually having been there. This is what they call selective history.

Hello, God. It's me. Margaret.

But in '72, it all starts to come back -- as well it better, seeing as I've been couch bound for two hours already and, gulp, that's the year I came into this hellish being. This is the year of the Bobby Brady tiki amulet, the tarantula-attracting totem trinket that sent the Brady's to Hawaii. And Watergate.

Similarly creepy is the relationship between a hapless child named Ben and his love of a killer rat, which turns out to be Michael Jackson ... or something. It was hard to see past the vodka nipple.

Oooh, my hot pants are slipping down my legs.

As are Hal Sparks', apparently. He of the frightfully gay Showtime atrocity, "Queer as Folk," has once again been licensed as a commentator for the VH-1 generation. And, once again, he is making sure that everybody knows he's straight. You make out with guys. You're not straight. Gay for pay is still gay.

Forgiving his self-smirking mug, 1973 turns out to be everything I remembered at the tender age of 1. Eric Estrada and Lynda Carter seem well-suited to talk about leisure suits, while Didi Conn makes a convincing go at Shrinky Dinks. But is any reminiscence of Billie Jean King necessary?

They used to call me Billie Jean King. Ouch.

The Year Of Our Lord 1974 brings the invention of the decade -- in addition to my fourth cocktail -- the Magic 8 Ball. Was there any narcotic significance to this globe of doubt? Ask again later. The revelation that Patty Hearst was just a "bored rich girl" and never actually brainwashed by Manson makes me giggle a little bit, but then I always giggle a little bit. But Pauly Shore droning on about Steve Miller just makes me cry. But then again, I always cry a little bit. Everything in its place, then. That is until the Fonz pulls my pants down again. Dirrrrty.

Shouldn't I be wearing my gauchos by now?

Nothing beats '75, though, as '75 is the year of "Land of the Lost" -- home of Chaka and Sleestaks. Various B-listers comment on the silliness of the special effects rather than the silliness of their own careers, and I'm simply in heaven.

I call my mom. She screens my call and doesn't answer. Wisely.

Then 1976 -- the year of the $2 bill and the bicentennial quarter -- introduces Farrah Fawcett, Richard Dawson and Chuck Barris, plus their various substance problems. I'm starting to see where it all went wrong by the time Donny and Marie are sporting Nordic costumes. Oh, I think this is the year I fell in love with Jimmy Conners (well, not really, I was 4). And Starsky fell in love with Hutch.

Mmmm, Hutch. "You light up my life, you give me hope, to carry on ... " I love '77.

"Annie Hall" was smart. "Battle of the Network Stars" was stupid. And Shields and Yarnell had their own show, miming. Use the force, Billy. Use the force.

Two years left, and I think I'm dead. Some Dostoevskian sense of self-destruction has taken over, and my bloodshot eyes are trying to burn the television. I've officially gone mad.

Wonder Twin Powers ... activate! Form of a pink elephant! Form of a pink girlie drink! Hey, Kool-Aid! Ad nauseam. 1978 is awful, except for Loni Anderson's hair.

A sense of calm permeates 1979, as this is just about where Pinky Tuscadero and Debbie Harry made me realize I was a big woman. Them and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.

Give me a "G." Give me an "A." Give me a ... whatever.

I loved the '70s.


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