Today I hear the word “awkward” used a little too frequently, so I hesitate to use it to describe myself in 1970. My pixie haircut had grown into longer locks, my buck teeth had grown in, and my head was still a little too big for my body. I was clumsy and rarely had a good sense of where I was physically.
Every girl I knew read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and it was consistently wait-listed in the school library. Recess conversations about the book served to make me feel more informed, yet less adequate. I was caught in that in-between stage of life.
Had I been an animated cat, I could have seen the attraction that Aristocat Duchess had to Thomas O’Malley for that kindness beneath his diamond-in-the-rough exterior. I certainly was still uninhibited enough to waltz around singing, “Ev’ry Body Wants to be a Cat,” or “Scales and Arpeggios.” At the same time, my childhood was unraveling as I became more aware of the world around me.
The opposite sex had gained some ground on my radar, and I had a crush on my piano teacher. A year later, when he could no longer offer lessons, I immediately scratched concert pianist off of my things-I-want-to-become list, thus ending my piano career permanently.
Today, the more I think about it, the less I believe it was only me who could be described as awkward. The sixties were over. As Wikipedia so aptly puts it, “The 1970s, pronounced “the Nineteen Seventies”, was the decade that started on January 1, 1970, and ended on December 31, 1979.”
See what I mean? Awkward from the start.
In 1970, television changed too. Syndication made a difference in discussions at home and at school. The Phil Donahue Show, the first notable TV talk show to push the envelope on previously taboo TV subjects, brought ideas right into our homes. Oprah, Raphael and Rivera all took their cues from him. The pill, abortion, homosexuality, divorce, infidelity and incest, for better or worse, were all suddenly fair game for open discussion.
The year was the first for Monday Night Football TV broadcasts with the familiar voice of Howard Cosell, whom I had earlier come to know as the announcer for the Ali fights. Anwar el-Sadat became the new president of Egypt and I followed his presidency via the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. The incident at Kent State in Ohio made me wonder if a future in college was any better than going off to Vietnam. I contented myself to watch the popular weekly comedy, Room 222, which I was only allowed if my homework was done.
The seventies were a time of great tumult. It’s amazing I made it out alive.