Remembering the ’70’s (fondly this time)

What a week this has been!  I noticed recently on a drive in to work how it was that I haven’t been so exhausted lately.  The specific revelation was that I had not had to fight sleep while commuting to work in at least a year.  What a wonderful thing!  My moniker no longer quite fits me.  Liam woke me around 4 am last week on a day off.  I realized I could not go back to sleep, got up, ate something, wrote something and decided I was sleepy after all and laid back down with Liam.  I noticed how it was that it really did not matter to me if he remained asleep or if he woke up as soon as I joined him.  Readers, it was truly a beautiful experience!  But we’ve been trialing dairy with him, and there is a reason he woke me at 4 am.  He did that consistently for several days in a row.  He also had a hard time going to sleep in the first place and often seemed to be in pain even when asleep.  Pretty soon, it was back to hard-core sleep deprivation.  I reluctantly took him back off the dairy.  I’d like to tell you that he’s feeling better, but I really don’t know if he’s feeling better or if I’m simply too exhausted to be awakened by him anymore.  That’s the problem with something that may only bother your child in their sleep.  You are trying to sleep as well, so you are not a reliable observer.

So I’d really like to talk about something else entirely.  I’ve been thinking about the olden days a lot lately, I’m not sure why.  I had a conversation with my mother recently in which she began by asking me for the umpteenth time if we were potty training Liam yet and I told her that things had changed a lot since I was a baby and pushing potty training on a child who doesn’t seem ready is no longer encouraged.  We got to talking not just about how much parenting has changed since I was little, but how ideas about childhood itself have changed since our parents were the little ones.  Really, just about everything in our society has changed.  At work, we recently had a potluck.  We have them each month to celebrate birthdays.  This month I was one of the birthday girls, so I suggested the theme be “Retro.”  I did not think this would require much explanation.  I guess I’m sort of a hipster, so I just naturally expected my colleagues to take to this idea and have a grand old time eating stuff you might have served at a dinner party circa 1950-1985.  I made fondue.  It was well-received.  The overall theme, well, I didn’t expect the reaction we got.  There were lots of complaints about what our mothers served us when we were young, lots of fare that wasn’t particularly “retro” and comments from people about bringing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or beanie-weenie.  Ummm, I was going for the totally unironic joy of eating foods that taste awesome but that we would never serve now, because they are old-fashioned.  It got me thinking about all that we have thrown away in the name of progress.  My anti-hoarding husband, Mike, undoubtedly influenced me to toss the seldom-used cookbook that contained the old recipe for Mexican Lasagne that I really, really wanted to make for my coworkers.  Seems everything has changed quite a bit since we were young.

Maybe the problem is me and my expectations.  I was born in the ’70’s but I mostly don’t remember them.  I remember the horror I felt at the realization, early in my marriage and this past decade, that the ’70’s were coming back in every bad way.  Maybe the only people in our office who could have possibly felt nostalgic for that earlier time are the people my age, who are too young to properly remember and understand what the adults went through in that decade.  Or maybe it was just a communication problem.  I’ll go with that.  Saying you should bring your Mama’s recipes means one thing to me and to the other birthday girl.  Apparently it means something completely different to many others.

But in the spirit of my original idea, of talking about what was good about years past, I submit that not only was fondue awesome, but I really loved Mexican Lasagne, even if it was prepared entirely in the microwave and terribly bad for you and we’d have to totally call it something else now anyway.  I also love original Star Trek, and one of the reasons I adore it still is how the producers felt no shame about the fact that they wanted to make everyone look good.  Alien women were beautiful and their costumes were designed to be beautiful as well as fanciful.  I guess they weren’t as wed to “realism” (whatever that could have meant in the context of a sci-fi television series) as they were when they started the other Star Trek series.  I love, love, love the way the cars looked in the ’60’s and ’70’s, before the oil crisis caused us to churn out UGLY boxes for 20 years.  I really enjoy going to car shows to be able to see those old cars again.  OK, honestly, I’m running out.  When I was younger I always felt grateful that I wasn’t an adult in the 1970’s, and now that I basically am, all I can say is, well there has to be something good about it!

What do you love about anytime pre-1985?  What recipes do you long to make that have been lost (or just nixed forever due to the health risks of consuming them)?  What would you like to bring back or celebrate?  It can be absolutely anything.  I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things here that are worth remembering.

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