Monday, October 13, 2014

How I Got Square

When I first noticed. Circa 2011.
A few years ago somebody posted the above meme on Facebook and I totally didn't get it. I saw a page full of commas and a picture of some exotic reptile. I don't think I even knew what a meme was. I began railing about how the picture was NOT a chameleon, thinking of the benign little creatures not unlike the Geico gecko, running about on the Alabama front porch of my childhood, changing colors if you touched them, and losing their tails if you grabbed them, scampering off to safety.

The response to my rant was, "Mary Lois, I can't believe you're this square! Don't you recognize the song?"

I didn't. I suppose I heard it but had never paid attention. I still don't know what it means, but I know it was an important milestone in popular music in the early 1980s. There I go again. Thinking there should be meaning to the words of songs. Square. Out of touch. My problem was that bit about it having come to prominence in the 1980s. Where had I been for the last 30 years?

Probably the 1980s was when I got so square--although I'll own up to the fact that I was pretty square before that. My favorite music had been the kind my father had bought on 33 LP's when I was a teenager--big bands like Stan Kenton, old jazz like Duke Ellington. I was not averse to the new stuff like "Tequila" or "Shh-Boom," and I liked Eddie Fisher (but I knew he was just a kid version of Frank Sinatra). In the 60s and 70s I was up to date with folk music and early rock and roll.

In 1978 I married my third husband, who was 17 years my senior and definitely a WWII guy. He had a collection of jazz and big band records. We moved to Switzerland, which was like being on another planet, and lived there for six years. Jazz is big in Europe, and we sought it out. We went to concerts and little out of the way bistros where there were pianists. We bought more records. By the time we got back to the States, it was time to stock up on CD's, but I kept some of the jazz records, and when I moved to Hoboken I transferred most of my music from 33 RPM to my computer. But I kept all the Sinatra LPs, because, after all, it was Hoboken.

My grandsons listen to music that I cannot fathom. Rap is just awful to me; rock music has become just so much noise (whatever happened to "See Ya Later Alligator"?) and something about chameleons is already a classic. It all just goes in one of my ears and out the other. However, I heard it piped into the Muzak in a store at the mall yesterday, prompting this post. I said to myself, "Mary Lois, how did you get so square?"

I don't think the music of the times is relevant to anything but the change in everything. There's a part of me that will always be a bit of a Dungaree Doll, Wishing You Were Here, dancing the jitterbug and waiting for life to happen. I'm square enough to accept that, and hip enough to try to understand at least. It's kind of a compliment to know that I can still surprise people with how square I am.

1 comment:

  1. Nobody *needs* to know about any particular song. And as for "cool" (that undefinable term), it seems to me that there are two kinds of cool things--those that appeal to some temporary zeitgeist, and those that transcend any momentary fad because they have some universally and permanently admired quality. Boy George was of the first kind. Fred Astaire was of the second kind.