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In search of Bobby Sherman l Chuck's World


Last updated 1/9/2019 at Noon

Quinn Cummings, a humorist and prolific writer of funny stuff on Twitter, noted the other day that she’d been stuck in line at the grocery store behind some lady attempting to write a check for over the purchase price, to get cash.

“We now know someone in 1978 had access to a time machine,” Quinn said.

As someone who once stood for eight minutes behind a woman attempting to withdraw $23 from an ATM, I believe in these time machines.

I’ve been riding in one, too, although of the more natural variety. Maybe that’s why I’m noting these half-centennial commentaries that seem to crop every January. Last year it was 1968; we’re into 1969 now, which is famous for a lot of reasons unless you’re a Mets fan, and then only one.

But I’ve reached a point where I remember 50 years ago, so I get interested, and it’s not just through sepia lenses. I’m fascinated at watching the future unfold, and trying to grasp the changes I’ve seen.

And if I had access to a time machine now, I’d be interested in heading back to let people know what’s coming.

Not to create paradoxes or change anything, because if I’ve learned anything from “Back to the Future” it’s that messing around with time can cause problems. No going back to kill Hitler in this scenario. Maybe I’d go back and prevent disco, but I’d need to think it through.

This is partly inspired by all these “What would you tell a younger person about the past that they wouldn’t believe?” memes that I’ve noticed the past few years. I assume this is a remnant of the Baby Boomers and their quest for relevance.

I’ve pretty much exhausted all I have to contrast today with my childhood, since I had kids who were sort of a captive audience for my nostalgia. I went through all the hits, then, how we only had black-and-white TVs and three channels, rabbit ears, etc.

How we couldn’t record live television, or pause it, or really pick it. We watched what we were shown, and most of us watched it at the same time.

So I’ve got nothing much to add, except that my entire childhood reeked of cigarette smoke. I suspect that would surprise a bunch of 2018 young people finding themselves suddenly popping back 50 years, particularly if they walked in a public building (or flew on an airplane, or rode in an elevator; seriously, people smoked on elevators; it was the first smoking ban, and it was controversial).

It would smell bad.

I could explain how when I was a kid, police officers would publicly arrest comedians who crossed some sort of public decency line, which usually meant they used profanity or made sexually suggestive jokes. But that’s just history.

If I had a time machine here in 2018, and I could return to, say, 1976, the year I graduated from high school, looking at all those fresh 18-year-old faces about to enter the future, I’d like to pick the smaller, more trivial things that still would make an impact, I think.

“Greetings, people of the past,” I might say, although that needs work. “I have some news about the future. I come to you from 2019, and boy is it interesting.”

I would not use profanity. The cops could be anywhere.

I think the first thing I’d tell them was that Bill Cosby was in prison. They would know Cosby. It would make absolutely no difference to their understanding of the 21st century. I just like saying it.

I think I’d mostly talk about the trivial things. How most of us don’t buy record albums anymore. How many of us shop at home, not at a store. I might mention that when we do go to a store, they most likely have fast food available, because after 15 minutes of shopping for shirts at Target, who doesn’t need a slice of pizza?

I might add that no self-respecting 2019 person would drink a cup of 1976 coffee.

I’d mention that we can now take all sorts of electric appliances into the shower with us. Radios, computers, little televisions. Every time I rinse my electric razor under a faucet, I feel strange.

I would tell them that the intergenerational conflict that occurred in almost every household in the ’70s that held a teenage boy and his father was the length of the boy’s hair. This was huge. They wrote a musical about hair. Good tunes, too.

The teen idols are no longer teens, and occasionally no longer alive. Farrah Fawcett, David Cassidy, Michael Jackson. Bobby Sherman is a medical expert with the LAPD.

“Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” on the other hand, are alive and well.

I’d stay away from technology except maybe to mention that everyone has a camera in their pockets now, and they mostly use them to take pictures of their dinner.

And maybe, if I’ve accumulated some wisdom (up for debate), I’d point out that we’re still alive. Nuclear war hasn’t happened. Women have taken over, finally exhausted by testosterone, if still pushing against glass ceilings.

Racial divides are alive and well, but progress has been made.

The glass is half full, I’d tell them. Most of you will be fine. The world will always need work. You can shower with music, though. Even disco, although I’m working on it.

Think, McFly.


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