I was a rebellious teenager. But not in the way you think.
You see, I happen to be a Baby Boomer, and as everybody knows, we're the ones responsible for kicking up so much dust back in the sixties. You know – the long hair and the fringed jeans, the psychedelic posters and the sit-ins, and all that "flower power”, "far out, groovy, man!” business.
But aside from a few incredibly short skirts (which I wore with windowpane stockings) and my brief infatuation with "Sugar and Ice” lipstick, the truth is I just never fit the stereotype for my generation.
For one thing I was way too square. If there was a peace demonstration going on down at the courthouse on Friday night, I certainly never knew about it. On Friday nights I was too busy waving my pep squad pompoms in the bleachers at the high school football game, or rehearsing my single line for the Drama Club production of "Up the Down Staircase”. And as for the whole drug scene, I totally missed out on that too. I mean, between babysitting jobs and church youth mission trips and painting banners to publicize the upcoming Student Council elections, who had time?
I didn't even "hang out” at the right place. In the town where I grew up, there was a little joint called King Burger (no, not Burger King – King Burger) – one of those drive-up hamburger establishments with speakers next to each parking space. Anyway, it was so popular that you had to keep driving around and around the block, waiting for a spot to open up. This pastime fondly referred to as "circling KB” was the favorite recreation of every teenager in town – except me. Never a big fan of soft drinks or tater tots I preferred instead to dine on mashed potatoes and turnip greens at Furr's Cafeteria. (Don't worry, even my closest friends were scratching their heads over that one.)
But perhaps the most telling distinction between me and my so-called peers was in the music we listened to. Oh sure, I had a handful of Beatles records, not to mention a smattering of 45's from The Beach Boys and The Turtles. But to be perfectly honest, I just kept those propped up around my record player for show, you know, in case my friends dropped by. What I really liked to listen to when nobody else was around were songs like "Puff the Magic Dragon” and "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah”. Believe it or not, one of my favorite albums was from a guy named Rod McKuen who recited poetry to beautiful orchestration. I mean honestly! Can you imagine a fifteen-year-old being hooked on stuff like that?
By the time I was in college, while everybody else my age was rockin' out to "96 Tears” or "Wild Thing”, who do you think was playing on my 8-track tape deck? Why, John Denver and The Carpenters, of course!
When my own kids were growing up, they used to marvel at old television images of hippie communes inhabited by shirtless bearded guys wearing love beads; or of war protesters poking daisies into the rifle barrels of soldiers, and to them the whole decade seemed incredibly cool. What's more, they were impressed, and almost envious that their very own mother was lucky enough to be a contemporary of these colorful characters, and they were eager for me to share some of my exciting experiences of being a teenager during this historic time.
"Mom, did you ever wear white go-go boots and dance in a cage?” Jason asked me one day.
Without looking up from my magazine I casually replied, "Can't say that I did.”
"Did you scream and pass out when you saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan?”
"Not that I recall.”
"You never even drove a painted up Volkswagen bus?”
He sighed. "So I guess it's safe to say you probably didn't go to Woodstock either.”
I looked at him over the top of my reading glasses and said, "Uh… hardly.”
He eyed me narrowly. "Name three songs by Led Zeppelin.” Alas, I couldn't even come up with one.
The poor kid just shook his head sadly. "And you call yourself a child of the sixties…”
Looking back on it now, I actually did have one thing in common with my peers. After all, our biggest claim to fame was rebellion – and as it turns out I happened to be a very rebellious teenager. I was just rebelling against my own generation, that's all.