Friday, July 17, 2009

Lost in the '50s tonight

Some nights when I can't sleep (like tonight), I like to put on old black-and-white movies or TV shows. The monochrome casts just the right glow across the room. Sometimes I even drift off to dream.

Well, that didn't exactly happen tonight, as you can tell by fact I'm still up. But, the show was "Ozzie and Harriet" and that probably explains it.

I watched an episode in which Rick Nelson sang his 1950s rock-and-roll songs and wooed his too good to be that beautiful date Sandy. And I thought to myself, "What I wouldn't give to have been a '50s teen idol."

Oh, I know it's a lie. Nobody (not even Rick) had that kind of life. Yes, he was a teen idol. But, he was addicted to drugs and enjoyed a less than perfect relationship with his wife Kris.

But, for a couple of years, Rick was nearly as popular as Elvis. He rode high until the British Invasion made malt shops and doo wop obsolete.

It's funny. "Ozzie and Harriet" isn't the show people think it is. Ozzie was the first of what became a trend years later -- the dumbass dad. He and Harriet slept in the same bed long before that became the norm on a TV sitcom. Sons David and Ricky fought all the time. In short, it was as real a family as the boob tube would allow. Maybe because they were a real family in real life.

Still, few could boast a life like the Nelsons. All their dates were stunning. Everybody could play and sing. Life was good, full of the innocent confidence of the Eisenhower years. It is a nice illusion. And I suspect it was stifling for those who thought that was the way you were supposed to live.

Maybe that's why I like it so much, though. Those who know me well will tell ya that I don't have too much in common with my generation. Sometimes I feel adrift, Jimmy Buffett's pirate, 200 years too late, lost in a world that doesn't mesh with my mind-set.

These early morning screenings of this sweet fantasy feed that part of my soul. It is relaxing. Maybe that's why I can often fall asleep.

Doesn't change the fact that I wish I'd been a teen idol. If for no other reason than to sing to the pretty girls.

So real, so right, lost in the 50s tonight...

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