Wednesday, September 1, 2010

And Pfffft, It Was Gone

Thanks to a recent Facebook thread, I can't get the Hee Haw song, Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me, out of my mind. It has been repeating in my head, over and over, just like my old Rhinestone Cowboy 45 with the skip in it. My brother gifted me that record for my 6th birthday because it was all the rage in our neighborhood to have memorized the lyrics in entirety. That same birthday in 1975, I received a record player with an uber hip "denim pocket" carrying case. Life was sweet and complete.

It seemed simpler back then, too. Every Saturday afternoon, I used to watch Hee Haw reruns with my brother on our couch with the scratchy red cushions ("Wool is so durable!", mom exclaimed when we complained about skin breakdown). We had different reasons for tuning in to Hee Haw. Six-year-olds could understand the corn pone humour whereas 17 year old boys could appreciate the country girls in their Daisy Duke shorts and tight tops. The cast, who I am sure were actually drinking moonshine from their prop jugs, seemed to be having such a good time being cheesy. Still, to this day, I watch it and just can't help giggling. Although not particularly funny, it remains ridiculously fun.

We watched the show in the den, almost always having to jump up and adjust the heavily tin-foiled rabbit ears to get better reception. Remember dens? Those mismatched rooms with furniture and decor cobbled together from wildly disparate eras? The carpet, and there was always wall-to-wall carpeting, was usually blue. Or green. Or red. (You know, to hide the dirt.) These rooms provided the prototype to the family room and then, the more illustrious, Great Room, where everything bought on credit goes together. Perfectly.

While we relaxed in the den watching syndicated boob tube delights, my parents would take a much deserved nap in their room, formerly known as the Largest Bedroom, now referred to as the Master Retreat. We didn't dare bother the masters in their retreat, for surely that would have meant premature death. We knew that, they knew that...everyone was happy, or, at least, content knowing their place in the world.

I wonder if this is the source of our country's current conservative malaise? To be conservative means that, well, you want to hold on to or conserve the past. This strikes me as a normal response to modern life. Somewhere deep inside, each generation secretly yearns for the practical sofas of its youth, for TV shows (or books) that are silly instead of edgy, for rooms that are a little messy. We miss knowing our place in the world as it was once defined.

Maybe all this gloom, despair and agony being touted by the Tea Party is just nostalgia for what once was and can never be the same again. Realistically or not, life seemed more simple, somehow better, in our youth and then....pffft, it was gone. I get that. Although I am an unabashed progressive, looking forward to what is to come and become of our great country instead of focusing on our excessive misery, I have compassion for those who like to "remember when".

So, to quote the ending line of that silly, syndicated, piece of TV perfection: "May your pleasures be many, your troubles be few." THAT'S ALL!!

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