When I was a small girl growing up in my grandmother’s house, I would sometimes try to imagine myself at my grandmother’s age. But I couldn’t; it seemed unimaginable. I simply could not see myself with white hair and wrinkles and working in factory, which is what I thought all grandmothers did. But now that I’ve reached the age she was then, I can tell you what it’s like. It’s pretty weird sometimes.
So there I was, shopping for Easter dinner last week, at the meat case trying to figure out how much pork would feed eight people or so, when I hear an oddly familiar crooning:
Leroy boy is that yooooooo….
I stood there, with a 8-lb. ham in my hands, as a deluge of adolescent memories washed over me, a big salty wave: Cruising about in a hot car, the radio blaring, laying in a two-piece on the beach under the hot sun, baking… And as the rest of the inane lyrics floated along—We’ve got to get you a woman!—I felt the same puzzlement I felt back then. Like, what the heck was Leroy’s problem, anyway? How would getting him a girl help? And pity the unlucky dame who got stuck with him…
It took me longer to identify the singer: Todd Rundgren, one of the few rock stars I ever saw in person, because, believe it or not, he toured and came to St.Bonaventure to play when I was there. Old Bona’s could be a pretty cool place now and then. We had been so enamored of him, we girls of First-Floor Falconio (we didn’t have sororities, so we had to identify with our actual location on campus), that we adopted another of his song-titles as our motto: Hello it’s me. Which was lame compared to our co-motto, reflecting our ground-floor status: Climb right in!
Then came that aggravating line: …they may be stupid but they sure are fun… “Yeah, like guys are never stupid,” I actually muttered aloud, addressing the ham. Startling a well-dressed woman beside me, about my age. “Oh come on,” I said to her. “Don’t tell me you don’t remember this silly song!” She edged away from me without comment.
What do these supermarkets think they’re doing, playing these crazy old songs from our long-ago past? Do they think it’ll make us mellow out and buy more stuff? The worst is when you’re standing in the checkout line, and there’s Carole King belting out that mournful and soulful, Will you still love me, to-morrrrr-ow and the crushing, still-fresh but decades-old memory of a romance gone sour assaults you while you’re trying to arrange canned goods on the belt. Doesn’t matter how lengthily and happily married you are now; the sting of it comes rushing back. Hearing Leroy’s dilemma again was absolutely no help in picking out that Easter ham, I can tell you. But at least I’m still here, after all these years—no white hair (thanks, Lady Clairol), not working in factory… and, still physically able to climb into a first-floor dorm room if I had to.