My computer was down on my anniversary this past week, preventing me from writing something excessively gooey. It still astounds me, though, to think that I’ve been married for thirty two years. 32. Three tens, two ones. Hard to believe.
I mean, when we got married, Jimmy Carter was still President, Ronald Reagan having just been elected, but not yet inaugurated. The Iran hostage crisis was still going on–wouldn’t be resolved until mid-January. Five days after the hostages were released, the Oakland Raiders won Super Bowl XV, the TV coverage for which I remember as a tasteless patriotic orgy. Actually, what I remember most about that Super Bowl was a question a reporter asked Raiders’ quarterback Jim Plunkett at the Super Bowl media day: “is it your mother who’s blind and your father who’s deaf, or the other way around?” Still the tackiest question asked a professional athlete ever.
It was a great year for movies, and a horrible year for music. Ordinary People would win Best Picture, defeating Coal Miner’s Daughter, Raging Bull, The Elephant Man, and Tess. Terrific movies, all. Sissy Spacek and Robert DeNiro won Oscars, along with Mary Steenburgen (I forgot she ever won one!) and, (I’m not kidding), Timothy Hutton. The first Muppet Movie came out that year, and we all heard “Rainbow Connection” for the first time, re-kindling the perpetual romance between Miss Piggy and Kermit. On the other hand, Xanadu also came out that year. The Electric Light Orchestra was considered cool. Honest, they were.
Here’s how long ago that was: the music in Ordinary People was Pachelbel’s Canon, which worked in that picture, because most folks didn’t know it; we hadn’t all gotten sick of it yet. I just thought it sounded pretty. But look what won the Grammy for best album: Billy Joel’s 52nd Street. Billy Joel was considered cool that year. And Donna Summer (Donna Summer!) won a Grammy for best rock (rock!) performance. Big songs that year included AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” Pat Benetar “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and Blondie’s “Call Me.” The big issues back then had to do with disco. Mostly, you had to hate it, but I did see Saturday Night Fever, and liked it a lot. But, boy, stuck in the middle of the disco era–what an awful year for popular music.
1980. The biggest sports news of 1980 involved a hockey game; the USA defeating the Soviet Union in the Olympics, then defeating Finland for the gold medal. Remember Al Michaels: “Do you believe in miracles?” I didn’t even like hockey, and I thought that was awesome. Made all the more poignant by the fact that the US didn’t send a team to the Summer Olympics that year; Jimmy Carter’s response to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Remember the Cold War? When I got married, there was a Cold War.
The San Francisco Giants finished in fifth place that year, in a six team division. Their shortstop was Johnnie LeMaster, fondly remembered by Giants’ fans as Johnnie Disaster. When I got married in December, the World Series had just concluded, with the Mike Schmidt Phillies finally winning. And the LA Lakers won the 1980 NBA championship, with rookie Magic Johnson playing maybe the greatest game of basketball in history, in a game that wasn’t broadcast. Can you imagine that today? That’s how long ago I got married–Magic Johnson had the greatest game of his career, one of the greatest played by anyone ever, in a championship game, and we had to read about in the newspaper the next morning. Also, we had newspapers.
And how did we follow all that sports news? We could maybe have barely caught it on ESPN, on Sportscenter. ESPN started broadcasting in ’79. But we didn’t have cable TV back then, and when we finally got it, it was still broadcasting stuff like Australian Rules Football. (Which was awesome, BTW.) We could also have watched cable news when we got married–CNN began broadcasting in 1980, if we’d had cable then. But FoxNews? MSNBC? CNBC, C-SPAN? Not a chance. We watched the three networks for our news. We watched Dan Rather.
And I owned a leisure suit. I even wore it, when my wife let me. I had gnarly sideburns too. I also had this sports coat, it was sort of brown and green plaid. I thought it was the bomb. It was a happenin’ suit. Later, my oldest son borrowed it; wore it to school one day, for ‘wear something funny’ day.
My wife and I were big sci-fi fans, and that was a good era for sci-fi movies, I remember. In ’79, we were dating, and did the ‘wait in line all night’ thing to see the first Star Trek movie. It took us awhile to admit to ourselves that it was kind of a bomb. But then, the summer before we got married, we got to see The Empire Strikes Back. Waiting in line to see it, some jerk drove by in his car and shouted ‘Darth Vader’s Luke’s Dad!’ Even that couldn’t ruin what I still think of as the best Star Wars movie ever. And two years later, in ’82, while my wife was pregnant with our oldest son, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan came out, with Ricardo Montalban as the best Trek villain ever. It was great–Star Trek v. Star Wars was actually a debate you’d have with people. In ’87, I was in rehearsal for something, and my wife stayed home and watched the first episode of the new Star Trek TV series; The Next Generation. That first season was pretty lame, but we didn’t think so then; we thought Picard was great, loved Riker, loved Data. That’s right, there wasn’t a new Star Trek TV series until we’d been married seven years.
32 years. A lot of jokes, a lot of laughs, a lot of late night giggle-fests. Four kids, the oldest of whom is now in grad school. A lot of prayers and a lot of books read and shared, and a lot of TV watched, and music listened to and sung together. Mostly, laughs. I figure, between us, we changed around 6,000 diapers, more or less. And told maybe 30,000 jokes. Which strikes me as a good enough ratio.
32 years, and I wouldn’t change one of them. 32 years, and counting. And the best, yet to come.