Betty Duffy

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.


Jus said...

Bhen Bella was a toddler she played the "pregnant game" where she would pretend to wretch into a bucket. She was not even two and I was SO SAD that she was getting this sad sickly version of pregnancy - The children still ask for a new baby ANY time I am not actually pregnant so I guess it was not too scarring ;)

Rachel said...

This is not a bad thing at all. In fact I am thankful to have seen my parents, aunts/uncles, and grandparents dancing around, singing, partying with their friends and, yes, even the grotesque vision of them smoochie oochying right in front of us. I learned how to have a genuinely good time with friends and family and the joys of affection-especially affectionate married folks. This was unlike the drunken, aldulterous and ultimately divorced state of most of my friend's homes.

Emily said...

Other sources of sex ed at the Husted home:
- What's Happening to Me? with its great cartoon graphics
- Mom's tales from her job as l and d nurse of teenagers crying for their mothers as they gave birth (what about 30 somethings?)
- The Saturday morning locked door to their room on which you knocked repeatedly and said, "I know what you're doing in there!"
- The school bus

Emily said...

Do you want that album for your birthday?

JenX67 said...

You're such a great writer. After I read line, "My only neighbors are..." I stopped and hung my head, put my hand to my forehead and laughed. I attempted to pick up the next line, but had to repeat the above step. Then I had this thought: "YOU POOR THING." The 80 year old farmer by himself would have been fine. His 50 year old gay son would have been fine. But the two of them living together and being your only neighbors - the neighbors of Betty and all her children - just - the ironie of American - life in Indiana? Blessings on you as you prepare for the birth of the baby. Rejoice!

John said...

I don't have strong memories of Babs/Gibbs, but I do remember trying to escape when mom would bust out her Tina Turner: Private Dancer album to do house cleaning to.

To this day, I can’t bear hearing "what's love got to do with it". The smell of TJ Maxx evokes similar memories of childhood agony--endless hours of being dragged through florescent-lit aisles of discontinued apparel. It's a visceral reaction, really--like being wedged in the middle of an overcrowded pew of an overheated church wearing a heavy wool sweater under a heavy winter coat, and there's no room to finagle it off and the more you try the hotter and more miserable you get. That's what you do for me, Tina Turner.

Belinda said...

I stopped by to say "hi" to you. We are blog neighbors ,your just one blog over from me in the womens section. I enjoyed your post about sex. I am going to write about sex after the holiday. I am still thinking about it. I am old enough to be your Mom . I am trying to teach my children through my blog ,and so far I am impressed with the results. You seem like a sweetheart. I'll stop by again. I will pray for you, and for your baby (ies?). -Safe delivery.Belinda

Cathy Adamkiewicz said...

shhh....i'm supposed to be working but instead I'm reading your blog, intrigued by the categories like "alcoholic beverages" and "naked people."
I love what you said about not getting the talk. I didn't either (soap operas were my mom's passion) and my kids got theirs in the form of a gang of siblings (seven kids in all.)
My two eldest daughters both got married in 2008 and welcomed babies in 2009. they seem happy. I think our technique is working.