It’s the early 80s… a little girl with a blonde bob and a ‘tude grips a Shirley temple, standing impatiently next to her parents in a dark bar. The mom is nursing a pink glass of wine and the father, a draft beer (he clearly won the drink lottery in that crew). It’s a busy Friday night, but the girl doesn’t even hear glasses clinking and people laughing. Expressionless, she watches smoke dance in the dim light as the trio wait for a table in the restaurant, too furious to believe her parents put her in this dreadful situation. As she taps a blindingly white Nike Cortez adorned foot, the tension is palpable. Despite wearing her brandy new rainbow legwarmers to complete her look, she can think of only one thing at this moment, and it isn’t grade school fashion.
“How could they do this to me?!”
(Why no, I’m not talking about why an 8 year old was in a windowless bar inhaling stale Parliament smoke. Good guess though!)
No, she can’t believe her parents would force her to go out on the most important television night of the year, and frankly, she’s totally torqued about it. (She knows they would so not be here if it were Superbowl Sunday or the season finale of Alice! The injustice—well, it’s simply appalling.)
As the minutes crawl on, the writing is on the wall.
All she can think is, “Oh shit, we’re never gonna be home on time for The Wizard of Oz!” (Oh yeah, she thought “shit” not “shoot”. Hey, that’s the price you pay for taking your kid inside the bar! They’re lucky I didn’t say it at mass on Sunday!)
Finally, they’re seated. The waitress, the dinner rolls, the salad, the dinners and OHGODTHANKGOD—her parents aren’t dessert people— finally the check—none of it comes fast enough!
“We’re never going to be home in time for the Wizard of Oz! Can we go? Can we go? Can we go nowwwwwwwww? Please? Please!”
There’s desperation in the girl’s voice now. (The parents exchange a knowing look as they finish their cocktails. Perhaps they wish they had just ordered out Chinese, or brought a muzzle. Or maybe, thought to use birth control in their 40s. One can only imagine…)
The car ride is an excruciating seven miles. The girl squeaks from the back seat, “Drive faster dad, drive faster!”
“We’ll be home on time, don’t worry!” her mother offers, trying to placate her. (Read: shut up whinybag, shut up.)
Lies!!! Bloody lies I say!
The girl? Was me. The traumatic memory, all mine. Forever, burned in my brain.
That was the year I missed the first TWENTY minutes of THE Wizard of Oz.
I recalled this night of family fun (Slash borderline child abuse? Okay fine, fine. I may be prone to exaggerate. Love you mom and dad! Kiss kiss!) yesterday as my four year old and I were watching Rudolph on dvr at 2 pm. That’s right, 2 pm on a random Monday! With breaks for potty and snacks!
I tried to explain to my son that when mummy was little, shows like Rudolph were so special we could only watch them once a year—when they were actually on tv!
His face was painted with pure bewilderment as he struggled to grasp the concept.
And why wouldn’t he be confused? He’s never known a world without dvds, dvr, and on demand cable with its dozens and dozens of high quality kiddie shows. He’s watched movies in the car. In the car! I know, that’s not even a big deal anymore, but can you imagine if someone dropped that bomb on our Strawberry Shortcake world, that some day we could watch Wizard of Oz IN THE CAR? Hot damn, that would have solved my problem that fateful night! We could have just started watching it on the way home and I wouldn’t have had to almost go into grade school cardiac arrest!
My friend reminded me not only did we only get to watch special shows and movies once a year, but we only got to watch cartoons once a week on Saturday morning. And if for some reason we missed them first thing Saturday morning and turned on the tv too late, we unfortunate children from the Boston area would find men in too tight dress slacks playing candlepin bowling. The horror we children of the 70s and 80s endured.
Yet somehow, we remain unscathed.
And in the process, as we’ve laughed and cackled about kids today and how spoiled they are, and wondered aloud what the future holds for them, the truth is now impossible to ignore.
Have turned into our parents.
(You know, minus ripping the butts and taking our kids into bar rooms. I think there are rules about that stuff now!)