I hate to let go of this summer. Summer never lasts long enough. My generation when young thought it desirable to get a rich "tan" in summer. It was a sign of being "cool" to get such a tan - something that made you stand out in a positive way.
Our band director introduced his own daughter as "Miss Lobster" at the start of a summer rehearsal. We all laughed. Her tan was the optimal one. She was attractive too by the standards of that time. Being thin was a factor that went into the mix of being considered attractive. We have changed that yardstick, for the better to be sure. The human race has evolved since the days of the "wolf whistle" and females being called "babes" or "dames," the latter term tossed out by Frank Sinatra and his peers.
Do kids put any value in having a "tan" anymore? I read once that in pre-baby boomer times, a tan was something associated with having a hard labor type of job out in the fields. It was not desirable at all. My generation came along and suddenly thought it was quite fashionable, along with various behaviors that had questionable value: listening to loud "stereo" music, smoking dope and having a slouched posture. Ah, that was my generation.
I was acquainted with a female in the summer of 1973 who sat outside for long hours, letting the sun bake into her skin so she could get that much-sought deep tan.
My generation tried to act like we didn't care about money. Maybe this was because we didn't feel communism was worth fighting in Viet Nam. Let's try to sympathize with the values of the enemy, then. There was a professor on the St. Cloud State campus who was reputed to be openly favoring the North Vietnamese. Today he'd be "ambushed" and shamed by a Fox News reporter. The institution would apply the clamps to him. I won't type his name here.
At a certain point, the scientifically-affirmed dangers of sun exposure changed everyone's attitude about tans. My generation whimpered into a corner about that. Today the idea is to be protected when you're outdoors in summer. Be under some type of canopy. Get all the fresh air you want - that's great - but protect your skin from sun abuse that could lead to cancer.
My generation would be reluctant to admit much about our past values. I'm an exception writing this post. But I've always felt like an outlier relative to my generation.
I thought it was ridiculous, all the self-destructive behavior we put our imprimatur on, when young. Loud stereo music on expensive systems, which were status symbols, keeping our classmates awake at night. It was socially discouraged to complain about loud stereo music. This scourge was embraced by our young culture. Be ready to hear the Edgar Winter Group's "Frankenstein" play when you're trying to sleep. Watch your peers go to the downtown bars on weekends. This despite the fact these kids pleaded poverty all the time, like they had no money to spend. Where did the money come from to support their wasteful behavior? Hey, let's go to the "Cantina." There was free popcorn, I guess. Listen to Starbuck's "Moonlight Feels Right" on the jukebox. You know why this song hooked us? It was because of the little instrumental fill after the hook line.
I wandered about a bit in this sea of debauchery. I knew what it was like to sit at a table and occasionally "buy a round" and get a wave of thank yous from everyone. We watched shallow TV shows like "Happy Days." This time of year we'd be appreciating the extent of the tan we had achieved. We equated this with sexiness. In the old days it was associated with field labor. Today it's associated with cancer risk. Buy my oh my, my generation sure made its mark with the values it chose, whether counterproductive or not.
And hey, it could have been worse: what if we had supported the Viet Nam war? What if we had been lackadaisical about racism and sexism? So we were forward-looking in some respects. We were also disingenuous or schizophrenic or something like that, because we were all too ready to discard the left-leaning political philosophy we once had. We planted the seeds for the "tea party." We went from not caring much about money to being totally money-grubbing. We have done much to ensure we have Republican leadership in all three branches of government, meaning there is absolutely no hope for the time being of getting humanistic health care reform. People will die because of our foot-dragging. Children will die.
We were the ones who thought it was so unconscionable for 60,000 young men to die in Viet Nam. We shift and ruminate at least on a subconscious level. That's because we are so human an animal. But no more do our daughters seek to get the moniker "Miss Lobster." That was cute, John.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org