Adult Education

I met Daryl Hall and John Oates in a dream last night and they spoke to me in a magic language that only the three of us could understand. It was the magic language of white-man soul. Mustache soul. It was a real thrill to finally meet them both, feathered, pink-cheeked and pushing up one shirtsleeve to show a tastefully sized tattoo of a little something Celtic. They looked exactly like I know them from the cover of Hall and Oates, Hall and Oates, except that one of them took the form of a well-dressed lizard. It was Oates. With a graceful flick of his slender tongue and words so sweet they could caramelize a felon, he confirmed something I’ve always known: I was born too late to enjoy the 1970s.

I was actually born in the mid 70s and by all accounts, I fit right in. I recently asked my grandmother what I was like back then and she said, in her melodic Savannah drawl, that I appeared “as comf’table and destined for greatness as Jimmy Carter on his inauguration day.” By the time I was walking and talking and really starting to enjoy the precious gift of white suburban life, the 1970s were gone. It was 1980 when Mt. St. Helens erupted, John Lennon was murdered and the entire civilized world watched the season finale of Dallas. Holy shit.

I withdrew into my own Second Cold War against growing up, my finger on the button for the righteousness of innocence and cartoons. I threatened to run away from home in the face of every new responsibility. I continued to let my mom choose all of my clothing, including comfortable pants with a drawstring waist, well into my adolescence. I was less easy with my own friends than with my much younger brother’s tribe of 1985 babies. Brandon, Kyle, Cody, Jordan and Shane. I stayed up late worrying about acne, not because it would hinder my social life but because it would signal my advanced age to attendants of carnival kiddy rides. Eventually, I joined the marching band.

I also married too young and gained sixty pounds, because the best way to ignore the tumult of your twenties is to skip them all together. Boring. Divorced and slim by the age of twenty eight, I experienced a kind of rebirth, like those old people in Cocoon but without the erectile dysfunction. Now I’m drawn to the Me Decade like it’s a religion, the only religion that makes any sense. I wear the clothes, I listen to the music, I sit in the suede floral easy chair. Good news: The culture and fashion of the 1970s is readily and cheaply available in thrift stores and yard sales all over the country. Bad news: They’re also selling it at Target. My closet is bursting with wide collars, but it might be too late.

There’s a delightful man in my office that just turned forty-nine years old and he looks no more than a straight-laced, clean living thirty. His doctors say he’ll probably live to be two thousand years old, so before I die, I should ask him if he feels like he was born too late to enjoy the 1950s. When did he realize? Did he hide away in France, living and playing as a small boy in the gently rolling apple orchards of an adopted mère et père for the last 40 years? Hopefully. He may have also just lived with his mother for a very long time, I guess I’m afraid of knowing.

“You can doo, doo, do it all now baby, just like you wanted to then,” lizard John Oates sang to me.

“I feel like Tom Selleck when I wear aviator sunglasses and dolphin short shorts,” I said.

“Magnum P.I. was actually broad, broad, broadcast in the 1980s, baby, but the pilot was filmed in 1979,” and then he trilled like the most exotic bird in the Amazon.

“I love you lizard John Oates.”

“I love you back, Magnum P.I.”

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