When I was growing up in the seventies, on very special occasions my family and I would eat at a European restaurant in town called, Ernie’s Submarine Sandwich Shack. I would ask my father, why is it European? And he would say, “Because they take an ordinary sandwich and put vinegar on it.”
I loved this place except for one thing — it had the world’s creepiest pinball machine. Instead of a nice Star Wars graphic or something really cool like Grizzly Adams, this pinball machine had a man on it with a menacing smile, sparkling sunglasses and gigantic scary boots. Years later, I found out this sinister man was none other than Elton John. It seems strange now that anyone would ever be afraid of Elton John, but I was five, I’d been lied to about what a European restaurant really was and had just consumed a large amount of sodden vinegar bread. Obviously, my abilities of perception were off.
Little did I know that Elton John was the epitome of seventies Rock and Roll style. Basically, rockers took the hippie look of the sixties (bellbottoms, fringe and natural fabrics) and turned up the volume to a near deafening level. It was like everyone was competing in a “Clothes you’re going to regret later in life” competition. Think of Kiss. Think of Elvis. Of course, there were some rockers that managed to stay cool – Blondie would have never participated in such folly — but for the most part, it was a big, bold and somewhat horrifying look – a look that had its roots in the bohemian culture of the sixties – and the bohemian look sprang from a reaction to the “Grease” style rock and roll look of the fifties – and the fifties poodle skirt/leather jacket look came from a reaction to a fabric shortage in World War 2.
Now, this information, much like geometry, will probably never come in handy for you, but as moms, we need to appear less scattered and addled than we do most of the time. We need to have facts at the ready. We need to have the “illusion” of someone who isn’t exhausted and only reads “Clifford, the Big Red Dog” books. And if we’re trying out a rock and roll style, we certainly should know the history of it.
And besides, you never know when an obscure piece of information lodged in your brain will come in handy. I’ve always had this fantasy that I’ll be on Jeopardy and all the questions are only things I know…
Alex Trebek: The place in your house where you keep batteries… Me: What is the blue box above the stove in the kitchen?
Alex Trebek: The story your husband will automatically tell whenever he hears the phrase, “coconut water”… Me: What is this really boring story about how he met someone that owns a coconut water company?
Alex Trebek: The seventies rock and roll style icon you think of when you’re eating anything with vinegar? Me: Who is Elton John?