Keeping Up with the Culture

Yesterday my son told me what click bait means. I am woefully out of the loop on many things computer. But I think I have a good handle on pop culture, for the most part.

The first time I heard an eighth grade student say awesome, it sounded out of place. But that was 35 years ago, and the term has stuck around.

The first time one of my daughters said to me, “That’s so random, Mom,” again it sounded out of place. Now I have it in my lexicon and use it randomly.

When Arnold, the little boy on Different Strokes, said, “What choo talkin’ about?” I understood.

When the old lady on the Wendy’s commercial said, “Where’s the beef?” I understood.

“Got milk?” Got it.

Baby onesies that said “Ipoop.” Got it.

“Need more cowbell.” Looked it up, but yes – got it. Who can stay up that late on a Saturday night when raising kids?

The one cultural touchstone that I missed out on was all things pertaining to the five or six nights of the history-breaking miniseries called Roots. It aired every night for almost a week back in the spring of 1983.

How do I know this? Because I was studying for my comprehensive exam that I needed to pass before I could get my Masters in English. Teacher salaries were based on level of education and years in the district, so I kept taking courses until I had enough for a degree.

Every morning at the teacher water-cooler people would compare notes about the previous evening’s episode.  I was a Clueless Julie on the whole thing, having missed every moment. I knew better than to try to watch some of it. This may have been the time period where I was going to bed at nine and getting up at 4:00 a.m. to study before my day teaching. I had figured out that my mind was fresh in the a.m. and worthless after wrestling with a bunch of 7th and 8th graders for 8 hours. Thus, the getting up with the chickens.

I knew that the guy who played Kunta Kinte went on to host Reading Rainbow on PBS. I knew that all the black stars of the day were in the miniseries. People of color wasn’t a term yet. The preference back then switched between African American and black. Think Black Panthers.

So in my retirement I have decided to catch up on some things, one of them being Roots. I am happy to say that I have seen five episodes, and then after some Netflix mix-up, will be able to view two more. One disc was sent out of order, so I was confused about Chicken George for a while, but now I’m not. No, I don’t stream. Baby steps.

I am watching the original from 1983, not the remake.  I am stunned by how violent it is, but then, slavery was violent. Now I know why this show changed everything. W’hat history book taught what the miniseries showed us?

Another thing I missed was the song “American Pie.” Was it the year I student-taught in Venezuela and studied abroad in Spain?  I heard lots of salsa songs in one country and lots of guitar playing and Flamenco music in another, but not Don McLean’s lyrics to the twelve minute song. Fifteen years later I was at an event with my ex where the entire room sang along while we sat there, not singing. I didn’t know the words. I don’t know what his excuse was. Ah, right! His mom said he couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.

When “Call Me, Maybe” was playing on the radio on a recent Thanksgiving, my nephew turned to me and said, “Aunt Susie, that is a popular song right now.”

Well, duh! I have three Millennial children. I know that song. I also know how to do the Cupid Shuffle, the Electric Slide, and the Wobble. I know what twerking is. No, I don’t do that. I know that Miley does. Plus she swings naked on a wrecking ball. Her Hannah Montana days are over!

I know Zendaya’s grandma.  We sing together in a chorus. How cool is that? I loved Z’s purple hair in The Greatest Showman.

I know Daniel Radcliffe has done nudity on stage. For shame, Harry Potter!

WTF! I know what it stands for, along with FOMO, YOLO, and YCMTSU (my friend’s invention?).

I know some of the newer slang terms for genitalia. Thank you, Two Broke Girls and Mike and Molly.

I feel culturally aware, all except for Roots. But that’s about to get wrapped up.

I’ll be ready at the water cooler. Wait! I’m retired, plus who would want to talk about a show that is 35 years old, anyway?

Couldda Wouldda Shouldda

I should’ve drunk Red Bull to stay up and watch Roots and study. Oh, that’s right, it hadn’t been invented yet.






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