My mother worked at a health food store in Pennsylvania in the 1970’s after college. She was also a chef at a health clinic/resort/spa in Pennsylvania for a while. While she worked at the clinic a Rosecrucianist approached her with the firm belief that she had been reincarnated from an Egyptian chef who worked for a pharaoh. It was an epic compliment.
However, unfortunately, at the health food store my mother’s coworker was incredibly worried about the number of tropical fruits she was able to consume in the US and so she confided to my mother that she was going to rob the store and run to South America where tropical fruit was more accessible. She wanted to offer my mother a chance to run away with her to access the tropical fruit so she warned her ahead of time.
When my mother brought the trash out at the health food store at the end of her shift after being informed about the plot she saw Bibles in the trash bin and she thought of her grandparents. While she wasn’t particularly likely to dash off to South America anyway, she felt further compelled not to accompany her co-worker with the absconded funds and it also caused her to reflect more on her faith or lack of it. When, a short while later, the co-worker did rob the store and one can almost assume to know where she went next although maybe that’s too hopeful…
Anyway, my parents both went from being at least fairly liberal (my mother was always somehow a little conservative though) free-spirits to being “born-again” in the 1970’s. It was a thing (at least in the US) with Boomers in the 1970’s and the following decade. A lot of the “Conservative Christianity” associated with right-wing politics to this day originally came from that Baby Boomer religious/spiritual movement to be “born-again”. I grew-up surrounded by people who were rightfully worried about objectively real negative trends in society that were and are concerning and their way of addressing those concerns was to basically try to go backwards in time.
They recalled their parents or grandparents being more reasonable and rational and ordered and…happy. People in general seemed to have a more robust conscience and sense of honor or at least a respect for decency and virtue. They were braver, tougher, more innocent, much kinder…and just generally better people. Things felt more sincerity “normal”. And the best way “back there”? They feel/felt it is was through “born-again” Christianity and vast political shifts to the right. But of course that was after they’d spent their earlier youth hoping to dismantle everything created by those “better people” and shift everything wildly to the left…
Ultimately the Baby Boomers have been very successful in shifting things in both directions… (political polarization) And in dismantling things in general. One constant? The Boomers and their ilk loved and love change.
Well…they have until recently when they’ve started to die from old age. Being young and staying young was key to enjoying all of their machinations. As they truly age change of any sort is becoming at least slightly less “sexy” to many of them, I think. And that feeling of being a bit more “anti-change” is separate from their conservative politics mind you.
But you have to honor their good intentions if they exist or existed. Right? It’s wise. And yet one has to be careful with that too, of course… They’re a contradictory and complex generation.
For example: I was raised to date (if I must date because dating was undesirable) extremely carefully for religious reasons. Many “born-again” people taught their children to do that. A wildly popular book was even written (the author has since actually apologized) called I Kissed Dating Goodbye outlining how to avoid dating and instead “court” people. And of course platonic but longing-filled friendship followed by intense, romantic but chaste courtship might have worked and perhaps even been normal in early 1900’s/late 1800’s Norway (for example) but…bringing that concept into the objective reality of the post (Boomer) 1960’s 20th and 21st Centuries is much more…difficult. But never-mind. What’s done can be undone! Right?! *rolling eyes*
Anyway, tried to sort through all of the expectations/suggestions/demands/truths/fears and just…date. But, I suspect I did so quite badly.
While I was taught to be extremely careful spiritually and morally in regard to my feelings and actions romantically/sexually and while that’s not necessarily at all a bad thing in and of itself I also somehow never learned to think about whether or not I really liked the people I was considering. Of course I was well-adjusted enough to mostly figure this out on my own and certainly analyze my orientation as part of that piece due to parental guidance actually but…aside from knowing I liked men and certain traits (physical, emotional and etc.) I was lost. The emphasis was more on being…careful. And no I don’t mean “safe sex”. No I repeatedly heard, “Guard your heart!” Not just from the supposed “free-love” the Boomers invented by themselves in the universe in their singular epic sexual genius and insight…but seemingly from feeling almost anything or taking anyone all that seriously. I was supposed to very, very, very meticulously spend chaste time with nice “born-again” guys who I might consider marrying.
Most of the “nice guys” I dated other than Mark weren’t really all that genuinely nice at their core once you got to know them anyway… He was my exception with his wildness. Funny I married him.
“You want to be in control!” I had both a friend in college and horrible counselor (unfortunately not all counselors are trained well or etc.) tell me emphatically. But no…they were wrong. That was not true. I knew it then but they didn’t believe me. Thankfully I’ve learned to listen to myself more as I’ve grown older. “You’re like Katharine Heigl.” “You resemble Britney Spears.” Both sound like compliments as they are gorgeous ladies but were actually insults. All these idiotic comparisons over the years… All designed to place me somewhere comfortable in the minds of others in the chaos of our age. I’m vaguely similar to those women physically maybe (?) but again if any other similarities exist it’s due to the influence of bullies of all sorts who decided who I was not because of my true nature as a person. Sounds too deep maybe but really it’s not. How about this: In this era it’s annoying to compare a pretty woman to some random, slightly similar celebrity. Maybe it wasn’t as much in the past… Somehow it nowadays often ends up being a way to diminish the female, the female celebrity and women in general. Women are more than just “a Jackie or a Marilyn” to reference the 2000’s hit show “Mad Men”. A strong quiet woman with brown eyes who highlights her dark blond hair isn’t just a blond witch with “control issues” because she seems too scary to contemplate the existence of otherwise. Do I remind Boomers (and their conscious and sub-conscious adherents) of their supposedly awful, sexually ignorant and repressed mommies sometimes I wonder… Like the easily defined and ultimately idiotic tv character (in the most derogatory sense for an otherwise almost entirely brilliant show) Betty Draper? I relate to her but for reasons I doubt are even worth discussing on this blog. And no, that’s not a hint I like women Boomers (and their followers) who are desperate for everyone and their mother to be secretly bi-sexual so they can fit in if they feel internalized hate.
I think it’s nice to just be me and try to figure out what I really like. As I’ve said, I know who I am as a person. That’s where my “born-again” parents were right I think. I learned to know who I was and am in the eyes of a loving, omnipotent God and so I have a good sense of genuine self. Yes. I was smart enough and they were decent enough to teach me real Christianity, albeit through the lens of being “born-again” (a long theological discussion for another time). But the more “surface things of life” are of some value too, especially when dating wisely (not fearfully or anxiously).
My first serious boyfriend took me to see our college’s production of Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” when we were first dating. It was well done. I loved it. I don’t think he realized what an Anglophile I was and instead just happened to bring me with him to the play because he had friends in the production but…it was the most sincerely snd genuinely and truly nicest moment in our entire relationship aside from a visit to the art museum in D.C. while he lived there. Doesn’t say much for our relationship, I guess.
The thing is…I sat there after the performance and it hit me how little I liked him. For lots of reasons. I appreciated him for who he was as a person. He was fairly respectful, responsible, etc. and etc. (his cheating took me by surprise) and I found him reasonably attractive enough to date but…I didn’t like him that much. Not really. Later when he told me to “just go do things” and be more confident (while he was cheating) what he really accidentally was telling me was that I should have never even given him a chance in the first place. I should have turned him down the first time he asked me out and then stuck with that. He was never quite what I wanted anymore than I was what he wanted. And in the end, because reality still exists, he broke my heart after I opened-up to him and really tried to form a meaningful, deep bond that could lead to a good marriage. *rolling eyes* No, I would have been infinitely better off making-out briefly with that young man at the bar who approached me and my friends while we were dancing (probably nothing further though to be honest) than actually officially “dating” Mr. Nice-Guy. He was always going to end up being a bully the way things were arranged. Actually I think the only reason he asked me out was because I bested him once in an argument in a political science course (he was a fanatical Libertarian) and he wanted to get the last word in somehow.
…People are often petty like that aren’t they? (as a side-note) I wish they weren’t… It’s so depressing.
But yes, not to be petty but he was the one who wore Palmer’s. *eye rolling* I respect the idea of smelling like actual chocolate. But passionately wearing a lotion that smells like the hot chocolate/play-doh version of chocolate is… *shaking head* Only if you’re desperate and trying to be creative should one wear a cheap lotion as a fragrance. It’s only respectable then. And, he certainly wasn’t. He was actually quite arrogant about it. Truly. He advertised his use of that lotion with the attitude of a wannabe beauty-guru.
But, to be blunt he just tended to have horrible taste. I’ll never forget sitting on his bed watching “How I Met Your Mother” eating pretzels for hours because he thought both were amazing. “Suit up!” he’d say with reverence. Forget how suiting up almost killed him when he insisted on living in a horrible neighborhood in D.C. to save money and was mugged in that neighborhood while wearing his work clothes which consisted of a three piece suit. They likely thought he was in their neighborhood looking for sex or drugs. Little did they know he wasn’t carrying much money as he was only on his way home to watch Barney Stinson and eat more pretzels. Dear thing… I’m glad he was ok.
There are men I find attractive and then there are men like the Palmer’s-wearer who are attractive but I clearly shouldn’t date no matter how “nice” they seem. I know this now.