Boomers Seek Diversion from the New Normal

The idea that someday it would be a normal occurrence for people not in the same location to talk to one another — and be able to see the other person speaking at the same time — was a futuristic dream fueled by the display of the Picturephone at Bell Telephone’s exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair.

Fast forward to today, and most boomers, who had never heard of Zoom two months ago, or ever ventured into Facetime, Portal or any of the things their children and grandkids have been trying to get them to try, have already had their fill of innocuous video chats with family and friends. Mister Boomer counts himself among this group, but a recent chat with family prompted a boomer flashback that might inject a little bit of fun into your next video obligation.

Shortly into the scheduled chat, once everyone finally figured out how to make each other visible on the screen at the same time (as they did the week before and the week before that), the conversation lagged. There is only so much to report when everyone is doing the same thing — staying at home. That is when the conversation veered to a discussion of the best of the cheap brands of toilet paper that still seemed readily available. While Mister B simultaneously thought it a convenient and even currently necessary overview of the pros and cons of questionable two-ply — and that somebody should make a website about it — he also took a trip in his mind to 1964:

Come on everybody… I say now let’s play a game…

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that Mister B lives in a world of flashbacks. He regularly wakes up to the sound of music playing in his head in what he has termed, Morning Jukebox Syndrome. And who among us has not come across a scene or a smell that triggers an immediate memory of another time? In this instance, boomer music was surfacing again to save the day. If you haven’t guessed yet, it was Shirley Ellis singing The Name Game.

Mister B remembers the song because his family had the 45 RPM record. He also remembers how kids in the schoolyard would taunt each other with their Name Game phraseology, an insult instead of a whimsy. Then there were the dares when kids would prod you to “do Chuck!”

Mister Boomer was surprised to find his picture sleeve recording was worth more than a few bucks thirty years ago, and sold it well above the purchase price from 1964.

But if the first two letters are ever the same … drop them both and say the name …

Before your next video chat, send the link to Shirley’s video ahead of time to the scheduled list of family and friends. Be sure to include the grandkids on this! Then when the appointed time comes, play your home version of The Name Game, starting with the grandkids’ names.

If, in the process, you completely annoy your children, who will be hearing their kids repeatedly singing their names for the next week like it came from The Lion King or Frozen, then you win.

What memories of The Name Game do you have, boomers?

Boomers Heard Infectious Music

Now that the coronavirus has affected all 50 states, and is spreading fast, it’s difficult to think of it in any other terms than a 1950s horror film trailer:

It came unexpectedly, afflicting city after city, town after town in its silent quest for world domination. Witness the futility of modern warfare against a silent enemy! Watch how the deadly toll rises! See the panic stretch and strain a healthcare system on the brink of breaking! Will mankind prevail and tame this latest attack on the human species? Keep your eyes open and your face covered, because you won’t want to miss a single second of…
COVID-19: The Awakening! Coming soon to a town near you!

Mister Boomer is as tense as the next boomer — we are in the most vulnerable group after all. Yet rather than suggesting the dubious therapy of watching films like, The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Andromeda Strain (1971), The Omega Man (1971), The Crazies (1973) or other boomer-era virus-infection films, he feels a lighter tone is just what the doctor ordered.

What did boomers turn to each and every day, in good times and bad? Music. So, Mister B suggests a play list of good, boomer music to soothe the soul and occupy the mind. Most listed here, as might be expected for boomers, weren’t about a virus at all, but love. To wit:

Witch Doctor (1958), Ross Bagdasarian (aka David Seville)

I told the witch doctor I was in love with you
I told the witch doctor you didn’t love me too
And then the witch doctor, he told me what to do
He said that….
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla, bing bang
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla, bing bang…

Fever (1958), the Peggy Lee version

You give me fever when you kiss me
Fever when you hold me tight
Fever in the morning
Fever all through the night

Are You Lonesome Tonight (1960), Elvis Presley

Are you lonesome tonight? Do you miss me tonight?
Are you sorry we drifted apart?
Does your memory stray to a brighter sunny day?
When I kissed you and called you sweetheart?

Pain In My Heart (1964), The Rolling Stones (written and first recorded by Otis Redding, 1964)

Pain in my heart
She’s treating me cold
Where can my baby be
Lord no one knows.

Dr. Feelgood (1967), Aretha Franklin

Don’t send me no doctor
Fillin’ me up with all of those pills
I got me a man named Doctor Feelgood
And oh, yeah, that man takes care of all of my pains and my ills

I Don’t Need No Doctor (1966), Ray Charles

I don’t need no doctor, I tell ya now
For my prescription to be filled
Only my baby’s arms
Could ever take away this chill.

I Got It Bad (and That Ain’t Good), first released by Duke Ellington, 1941
The title says it all. The song was popular throughout the boomer years, recorded by dozens of artists, whose versions boomers heard on the radio, including Marvin Gaye, Peggy Lee, Doris Day, Cher, Ella Fitzgerald, Carly Simon and a host of others, including one of Mister B’s favorite versions by Etta James (1971).

Doctor My Eyes (1972), Jackson Browne

Doctor, my eyes
Tell me what is wrong;
Was I unwise to leave them open for so long?

The Boogie Woogie Flu (1972), Johnny Rivers (first recorded by Huey ‘Piano’ Smith, 1957)

I wanna jump, but I’m afraid I’ll fall
I wanna holler, but the joint’s too small
Young man rhythm’s got a hold of me, too
I got the rockin’ pneumonia and the boogie woogie flu

All By Myself (1975), Eric Carmen

All by myself
Don’t wanna be, all by myself anymore.

How about it, boomers? Are you practicing social distancing and taking advantage of senior shopping hours to avoid crowds?