Logically I know that the 70's weren't that great. Actually they were a pretty miserable time. Everything was ugly and brown and people were poor, more than they were under Reagan and more than they are now. I know I'm just wanting to go back to that less complicated, more secure childhood time when there was less to want and less to do because there were so few things worth wanting and doing, and when my existence was pretty well circumscribed by going with my 'rents to Anna's Pizza before it was Players and pestering my mom for quarters for the jukebox (so I could play "Operator"), and trading insults with Kevin who was in my class and made me laugh and worked in the mom-and-pop grocery next door (long gone), and writing lengthy funny stories in ballpoint pen in my super-secret notebooks about what stupid jerks my teachers and classmates were, and glancing at the outsides of establishments like Daystar Boutique (which in those days was across the street from Beef Corral) and wondering what went on in there but having a good idea that it probably involved d-r-u-g-s.
People make fun of the 70s fads but some of them were a big deal to us kids on the very tail end of the baby boom. For one thing, we had limited places to shop. We weren't the type of kids who were handed their 'rents credit cards every week and sent off to a fancy mall. We were lucky if we were got to take a bus to Westgate Mall (which was not exactly plush even then...i think now it's closed down) to blow our measly allowances and babysitting monies. The fancy malls were all way on the other side of town. I didn't even get to see the inside of Randall Park Mall, which was the biggest and best in the world then (so they said) till I was 20. When I finally got there it was like goin' to Disneyland. But I digress. The point is, all our shopping pretty much flowed from three drugstores on Madison between school and most of our homes, and maybe the Drug Mart on Detroit which had just opened and had a bigger cosmetic selection. If something new hit those outlets, or we were lucky enough to make one of those rare trips to the mall and pick up something interesting, it was a huge deal in our extremely dull little lives. Hence the pervasiveness of cheap fads like Mood Rings and roll-on flavored lip gloss and giant combs and Mexican jumping beans. One person got it and within a week, we'd all have it, except for the really really poor kids who pretended they didn't care but I suspect secretly did because they spent so much time borrowing or looking at other people's.
The other week, I bought a genuine '70s Pet Rock. (I named him Clay after slickidiot because it seemed to fit.) If you're too young to remember Pet Rocks, or just want to remind your fading aging memory :P, here is a page on them. I never had a genuine 70's Pet Rock. The one I had when I was 13 was one of those knockoff copycat rocks called a "Pebble Pal", that was actually a copy of the "Pet Rock Pendant" because it had a little bail glued on the end and a chain and you could wear it by its "leash" around your neck for a necklace. There was a display of them in some department store at Westgate and I managed to nag my mom into buying me one. It was probably cheaper than a Genuine Pet Rock which cost something like $1.25, that was a lot of money in those days (*rolls eyes*). Anyway, the Pebble Pal, which I still have more or less intact, came with a leash and a nest and a little carry box with holes and an instruction manual on how to take care of it. I think mine was named "Rocky". OK, yeah that was unoriginal, what can I say? My name was "Mary" and my cat's name was "Kitty". Creativity regarding names didn't exactly run rampant in my world (if you weren't named "Mary" you were probably named "Kelly", "Kathy" or "Tricia"). Anyway at least I didn't name it "Stoney" like some head.
Believe it or not, I actually read the joke instruction manual on How to Take Good Care of My Rock. I thought there might be a grain of truth to the parts about how the rock got lonely if you didn't play with it and how it really liked to spend its time around your neck, close to you. I was lonely a lot myself, why wouldn't a rock be? At any rate it was a very exotic rock. Nowadays I would recognize it immediately as black river stone, but back then I had never seen that type of rock, not even when we went to the beach which was comprised of 1,000 types of smooth rocks. It was very nice to hold being all smooth and ovally. I would talk to it and tell it good morning and let it sit next to me on the bed while I read books and sleep under my pillow at night.
When I first wore my rock to school and got asked "Mary, why are you wearing a rock around your neck? Is that a Pet Rock?" I solemnly introduced Rocky the rock and explained what it was. A couple kids laughed but most of them were pretty interested. Stuff I did was usually respected, by virtue of the fact that I (a) always got the highest grades in the class, (b) was also one of the biggest kids in the class and would kick the ass of any harasser and (c) had a 34B bust and my period at age 12. Also, (I cannot stress this enuf) everybody was really, really freakin' bored out of their skull. I wore my rock to school every day and let him sit in or on my desk during class. Sometimes before class we'd let him visit with other rocks on the playground, who I noticed were not anywhere as cool as he was. But I'd always keep a good eye on him and hold onto his leash so no one would kidnap him.
One day Stasia Sutton decided it was time for Rocky the rock to fall in love and get married. So she introduced him to a female rock that she named after me. I didn't think her rock of choice, a common ordinary schoolyard rock, was good enough for my handsome and exotic Rocky, but Stasia insisted that she could tell they were already in love. So they had a courtship for a couple of weeks and then we planned a big wedding that we held in the schoolyard before first period. Stasia got to be the priest 'cuz it was her idea. Some of the other girls were bridesmaids. We had flowers and confetti and made the rocks kiss. I took the bride home and glued a bail on her too so I could wear them both to school and they could be together. My mom was upset about this because she was afraid that next someone would want the rocks to Mate and Reproduce, but being good little Catholic preteeners we never got around to that. The biggest problem I had was that Elmer's glue was not the greatest thing to hold bails on heavy rocks so they were always falling off and getting loose and I would have to be really careful they didn't get lost when I ran with them around my neck. They'd knock together and make clicky sounds. I think eventually the bail fell off Rocky and I couldn't get it back on reliably so I quit wearing him to school and the whole thing kinda wound down. I stopped talking to him and sleeping with him under my pillow and just left him in my dresser drawer, still intact in his little carry box with manual and leash. I dunno whatever happened to his "wife" who I never really liked anyway. She probably ran off and had free love with another rock. That was the 70s way.
Anyway, quite a few years later, about 1983, I was walking down to Coventry and I passed a driveway that some rich homeowner had obviously just gotten filled with stone. Smooth black river stone, a whole truckload of it. And I was all like, wow, my rock wasn't that unusual after all, apparently. I picked up a few of the rocks and just felt them. I walked away with one in my hand. And then about a block down I passed Alan Grandy who was just starting to play out a lot with Terrible Parade and who I had just met. And I said in my best junior-high-school enthusiastic voice, "HI ALAN! Here, would you like a rock? Have one!" And put it in his hand as I passed him. And being Alan he didn't quite know what to say so he just smiled and thanked me and kept walking and probably threw it away in the grass :P It made me smile though. Oh and I still talk to rocks sometimes, if they are cool rocks, and they vibrate or hum back. It's better response than you get from some dumb people.