Janet Sheridan: Passing fancies
Except for a brief flash during college, I’ve never been among the cool. In elementary school, I was the last girl to wear my hair in a ponytail and swoon when Bobby Burgess answered the Mouseketeer roll call.
I attended Spanish Fork Junior High with approximately 300 other girls; 294 of them watched Dick Clark’s American Bandstand on TV, knew how to do the stroll and read about Ricky Nelson and Frankie Avalon in movie magazines. The other six watched professional wrestling and compared the tomahawk chop of Chief Kit Fox to the spinning toehold of Gorgeous George, useful information, which I used to discipline my younger siblings for years.
In high school, while other girls drove their family cars up and down Main Street or took their friends to the drive-in, my use of our battered Plymouth was limited to running errands or chauffeuring my siblings.
But, thanks to roommates and boyfriends, my coolness factor improved in college. I disdained the insipid crooning of Pat Boone and held my own in conversations about the rhythm and blues of James Brown. I read and admired Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” but found Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, “The Birds” disappointing. I adored the country’s young, handsome president and watched “77 Sunset Strip.” When I wanted to look my best, I backcombed my hair, sprayed it in place and wore knee-high boots and too much mascara.
Home for the summer between my junior and senior year, I expressed admiration for Andy Warhol’s painting of a tomato soup can, which I’d been exposed to in an art appreciation class. When my mother asked what I saw in a painting that duplicated a can of Campbell’s soup, I scoffed, but didn’t answer; I had no idea why the painting was critically acclaimed. That was the high point — or low point — of my pop-culture credibility.
Ten years later, I went home for a visit and heard my two younger brothers talking about a record album with continuous music that told a story called the Red Headed Stranger and asked, “Who’s Willie Nelson?” They scoffed. And I realized I’d turned into my mother, a happy woman with a variety of interests who cared not at all that the trendy crowd didn’t pursue Scrabble, tole painting, crocheting, antique furniture or liver and onions.
Mature at last, I quit worrying about fads and quietly pursued my interests, some of which endured over the years — reading, writing, crossword puzzles, walking and hiking — while others faded — sailing, garage sales, sewing, exploring shopping malls.
And now I sense the fading of another favorite: travel. Recently, Joel and I needed to arrive at the St. Louis airport at 1 p.m. in order to attend a family birthday party that began at two. We dragged ourselves out of bed at 4 a.m. to catch a flight to Denver from the Steamboat/Hayden airport, gulped a breakfast near our Denver gate, then heard announcement after announcement followed by yet another announcement about the fog-caused delays of our flight. Finally, after three hours, we made it past the ticket agent, descended to DIA’s bottom level and waited in a drafty hall with no seating available for 45 minutes without being allowed to get on the plane. That was when Joel broke and said with quiet desperation, “When will this torture end?” We arrived at the party as folks were leaving.
So lately, I find myself weighing the rewards of travel against its stresses and discomforts. Easy-flowing days at home and sleeping in my own bed sometimes look better to me than the strain of a three-day road trip and the unknowns and disappointments of a week at a beach house.
Though I’m not yet ready to hand in my passport, the day may come when travel becomes another abandoned interest like Wolfman Jack, professional basketball and bellbottoms.
But I’m sticking with the St. Louis Cardinals, novels and pepperoni pizza.
Sheridan’s book, “A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns,” is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at auntbeulah.com on the first and 15th of every month.
About a week ago I was rolling a bale of hay down past the loading dock of the corral so that I could throw hay over the fence. Right there in the path was some rhubarb. It isn’t that the rhubarb hadn’t been there before, but I thought it had died out during the drought. It isn’t easy to get water to that location. The rhubarb is nice and tender, and I’m determined to use it up before the stalks get tough. So I hunted up my rhubarb recipes.