Sunday, November 16, 2008
Resurrecting the Dance Party
The arrival in our home of the Barbara Streisand/ Barry Gibb album Guilty, marked the end of the innocence for me. It was 1980. I was five years old. My mom and her girlfriends had a ritual of gathering on Friday afternoons at a neighbor’s house to drink wine coolers, and get down to their album of choice (which would be either a Barbara selection or Neil Diamond).
It was the era of the large stereo cabinet, with speakers the size of an end table. With the volume raised to a deafening level, the women raised their glasses overhead and bumped their hips together at my eye level. Everywhere I turned there were bopping middle aged bottoms, wearing “mom jeans,” sharing the delight of the coming weekend. Certainly, there were other children present, probably a couple of my siblings, neighbor kids, all of us dancing underfoot, convinced that this vision was absolutely normal.
During the long days at home, I studied the album cover: Barbara and Barry in tight white clothes sharing an intimate embrace. It was all the sex education I needed. They were my parents. They did it, and they liked it. What’s more, I wanted to become the Barbara in that embrace as soon as possible.
Well, here I am, probably the same age as my mother in the era of the Barbara dance party. I am as old as my mother was when I thought she was unbearably old, and the thought of having a wine cooler and a dance party is as far from my mind as it can be. I am nine months pregnant and my current and only neighbors are an 80 year old farmer and his fifty-year-old gay son.
Nevertheless, I am interested in the idea that my parents never gave me “the talk.” I don’t remember not knowing about sex. This might be due to the fact that I had older siblings, but I think it also might be because of those obvious artifacts of the adult world that were present every day of my childhood. It was Barbara and Barry. It was women dancing. And I’m sure I could come up with other stories that would embarrass the heck out of my parents if I spent a little time thinking about it.
I wonder what lessons my husband and I are teaching our kids without being aware of it: grown-ups stare at computers, pregnant women are supine and grumpy most of the time.
My kids are getting old enough. It probably wouldn’t hurt for me and Mr. Duffy to have a dance party. Though we probably gave them that lesson somewhere around Baby #4.