Internet, Am I Old?

Gray hairs– I got ‘em.  I find them amusing and hope they will come in wiry so my hair will finally have a little bounce to it.  They don’t make me feel old; they make me feel transformed.

An aching back– I have that too.  It’s way less charming than my 4 gray hairs, but it makes me think of loving those fat-ass children of mine who love to be held and carried.

Failing hearing– Eh? What did you say?  Oh, you said you love my blog and want to offer me a book deal?  No? You just want me to shut up? Ok.  Sometimes it bugs me that I can’t hear very well, but it’s probably less about getting old than it is about listening to my headphones entirely too loud during some angsty times (say, that decade between ages 23-33).

Children I used to babysit are old enough to be physicists and prisoners.  My former teachers have passed to the Great Beyond. But none of this made me feel old.  It took a 1998 Illinois court case to make me feel every inch my age.

Have you heard of Greenlaw v. Dept. of Employment Security, 299 Ill.App.3d 44, 1st Dist., 1998?  I bet any of my vital organs you haven’t heard of it, because it’s not ground-breaking in any way.  In fact, it’s a wholly unexceptional employment case where an insubordinate employee ultimately loses her eligibility for unemployment benefits because of her outburst in her supervisor’s office.

What did she say?

In the white-hot heat of the moment, she told her supervisor, “You can kiss my grits.”

That’s all you need to know about this case to understand my subsequent existential crisis.  In a public setting today, I was discussing this case with some adults.  We were having a lively legal debate about old Ms. Greenlaw and her “abusive” language.  Offhandedly, I said to my interlocutors, “of course, we all know where Ms. Greenlaw got this insult, right?”

* crickets *

* blank stares *

Hello? This was back when TV offered quality gems like this. (photo credit: www.tvtropes.org)

Hello? Remember these people? This was back when TV offered quality gems like this. (photo credit: http://www.tvtropes.org)

Maybe they didn’t hear me.  “Remember, Flo and her contentious relationship with Mel? How hot was their sexual tension?  The precursor to Bruce Willis and Cybil Shephard in Moonligting and Sam & Diane in Cheers!”

* more crickets*

Not one of the nine people to whom I was conversing had ever heard of Alice, the 70’s sitcom featuring the one and only Linda Lavin.

Can I really be standing before almost a dozen people who have no idea what TV show I am talking about?

The answer is yes.  They had never heard of Alice, or Mel, or dizzy Vera.  I feel really sorry for them.  No wonder their generation is so self-obsessed– they have never seen realistic depictions of what it’s like for a single mother to raise her teen-aged son in the big city while waitressing for a tyrant: those sexist pink uniforms, those little cows they had to pour the cream into, the lack of customers.  Those were hard times! It was hard to watch, but I did because this was before moms had to entertain their children 24/7 with organic snacks and environmentally friendly hide-and-seek games.

I toyed with asking them if the names “Mork” and “Mindy” meant anything to them, but I was too depressed.  As the conversation broke up (probably because I was sobbing about my impending death because I am so old), I dismissed them all, but just under my breath I was humming, “There’s a new girl in town, ’cause I’m feeling good!  Got a smile, got a song for the neighborhood.”

But, I was singing to myself, because none of them knew the inspiring anthem that was the theme song to Alice.

And I may be old, but I have memories of great TV.  What do they have– besides youth, Mad Men, and Apple products to stave off the fear of death?

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40 thoughts on “Internet, Am I Old?

  1. Ha! Love this! I remember watching that show and thought I was so funny as a preschooler to say “kiss my grits” to no one in particular. At my last job I faced your same experience with mortality. I was the only one over the age 28 and we had daily interactions over television that ended in my jaw hitting the filthy corporate carpet. It was beyond depressing.

  2. Loved Alice! And All in the family. And Different Strokes. Odd Couple. And Love Boat, baby!! Ever watch Land of the Lost? And so many more. 4 grey hairs?? Consider yourself way younger than me.

    • The gray hair thing is genetic…I loved Land of the Lost. Was that the show with the sleestacks that had that funny ugai breath thing???? How about Sigmund the Seamonster? I cried when that was canceled. Oh, the Bugaloos?? Oh, the reverie.

  3. Alice was a favorite! Loved that show! The Bugaloos! I still know that theme song. Do you remember the Banana Splits? Also, I think I just gave myself a hernia laughing as I envision your mom saying “Now Christie….you will not watch Love Boat! Far too much pre-marital sex!”. Ha ha ha ha! The 70’s were full of horn dogs!

    • So true! We would BEG our babysitters to let us watch the stuff my mom hated. The hours I passed watching that crap…. It was another time. I don’t remember the theme song to Bugaloos…I need to download. New ring tone?

  4. Love this! I remember “kiss my grits” well and think your taste in television shows is spot on! Mork and Mindy was my favorite show … of course, I was an infant at the time ;-). And Land of the Lost – how is that not still on? Classic! Great memories – thanks!

  5. Hilarious…my husband and I were just talking about going as Flo and Mel for Halloween. Look up the official theme song on You Tube. It is a hilarious trip down memory lane! And here’s another one for you, especially since you grew up in Dallas…did you watch Gigglesnort Hotel? That weird kids’ show with the weird characters and the talking Blob thing??? :)

  6. Girlfriend! Let’s break this down: gray hairs? got ‘em. Just recently graduated from “a partial foil outta cover these” to needing a full-blown all-over color job. Yay, me? Aching back? Oh, for the love of picking up a 50-pound 5-yo. Hearing? Done and done. Mostly I can’t hear out of my right ear because I had a ruptured ear drum last year and had to wear an ear tube which isn’t nearly as much fun as it sounds and now I think I am also just getting old. Alice? Mork? Mindy? They are my people. YOU are my people.

  7. Count me among the many Alice fans gathered here. I still totally say, “Well, kiss my grits.” I also say, “Whatcha talkin’ about, Willis?” so often that my 3yo now says it too. (He actually says, “Whatcha talkin’ about, Lewis?” but that’s neither here nor there…I consider my work done.)

  8. Lol
    I’ve had many of those moments. I was not a big ‘Alice’ fan but I watched regularly. I remember being inspired by ‘Mary Tyler Moore’….live in a big city, rent your own apartment, career, good friends, great clothes. I lived in Winnipeg for a few years (avoid at all costs!) and so wanted to duck down to Minneapolis just to throw a beret in the air!

  9. Let me assure you (being quite a bit older), when your gray comes in it will be much more full of body than plain, old straight non-gray hair! At least that’s what I tell my nicely and always dyed self. But it is really true! Awwwww….Vera! And I wanted to be Mindy, the most adorable thing of her time. Now they watch all that vampire stuff which I’ve never and will never get into.

  10. I wonder if the judge and or jury knew Alice. Probably should have part of evidence.

    I loved Alice. Less so One Day at a Time. No affection for Welcome Back Kotter. But I can recognize references to all of them (and Mork and Mindy) because my single, working mom loved her some television.

    • My mom did too. Hated Welcome Back Kotter. I used to tell my mom I wanted to be a waitress. She would say, “no, you want to be the owner of the restaurant.”. What a bad ass she is. Also, I never wanted to be the owner because I wanted to be one of the gals.

  11. I remember Flo telling Alice she’d get better tips if she undid more buttons on her blouse. And Rhoda – she was so cool! And I LOVED the “This is Carleton your doorman” voice/character. I’m showing even more age now, but I can still remember most of the lyrics to the theme song from Green Acres, too. I was with Oliver, not Lisa.

  12. I probably haven’t seen an episode of Alice since the early eighties, and I must say that that photo is shocking. Flo (and probably the other characters, too) seemed kinda old to me back then. And now … well, she’s probably younger than I am now.

    • I know! Didn’t Flo seem “over the hill” in some way back then. I thought Linda Lavin seemed ancient and I hated her singing voice. Now, I like to lay in bed and sing that song to my poor husband, who must endure a voice worse than Lavin’s: Mine.

  13. Pingback: Old, older, oldest « Naptime Writing

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