I was doomed to nerdom by my upbringing. Rarely allowed to watch television, I fell painfully behind on the lingo and fads. What was this Married With Children and The Simpsons everyone talked about? I’d feign a knowing chuckle at the recess table chatter or act busy peeling the bruised banana mom packed in my lunch. The occasional movies permitted to me were musicals like Oklahoma, The King and I, and Singing in the Rain. I found Donald O’Connor’s scene “Make ‘em Laugh” gut-busting hysterical. I watched Gone With the Wind obsessively, tried adopting the ungodly one eyebrow arch of Scarlett O’Hara, and thought “fiddle-deed-dee” a useful expression. It was a lonely joy. For awhile, I believed in earnest that love could only be conveyed through song, glorious costume, and that choreographed dancing was a perfectly normal means for getting about town or simply completing household tasks.
I thought shoulder pads were cool, but I can’t totally blame mom for that. Indeed, everyone in the 80s suffered. But, I can (and do) hold mom responsible for this haircut.
I fell in love with the play Phantom of the Opera. When most kids listened to the Fresh Prince, I blasted my Michael Crawford cassette tape. This didn’t go over well at birthday parties when we took turns putting music in the boombox.