Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Soaring Sixties

   When the decade that started with the year 1960 began there were lots of "New" things happening: Satellites, lasers, folk music (huh?), jet air travel, the pill, transistor radios, and all sorts of new products (Tang! Tab! Fresca! Bugles! Flubber!) to consume. The print media were full of articles on "What the Sixties Will Bring" with an emphasis on the positive. They even had a name for this enlightened new age: "The Soaring Sixties." The "Fabulous Fifties" had limped out with a cold war, recession, civil rights police riots, and a general sense of dread. Add to it a hangover from World War II and the threat of nuclear weapons, the Korean and Suez conflicts and the takeover of Cuba by a young revolutionary with the same name as a popular folding sofa-bed: Castro.

   Onto this stage strode a precocious boy of ten, who had accelerated his learning curve by voraciously reading everything he could get his hands on: Mad Magazine, All About Books, World Book Encyclopedias, Tom Swift, and the daily news. Those papers were changing as well; new printing technology allowed them to insert glossy high quality color advertisements. This plucky lad absorbed all this, but didn't necessarily understand it fully. There was one ad campaign in particular—a full page in color—featuring a picture of an attractive woman reading the newspaper but the paper was covered with flowers instead of words. The copy beneath the image extolled the virtue of it superior  'sanitary napkins'. At the bottom of the ad it simply said: "Modess… because."

   This imagery fermented in the young fellow's hyperactive imagination for a few days. Sunday, at the dinner table, the boy thought that the place settings could use a little enhancement and queried: "Why don't we get some of those sanitary napkins?"

   Chaos ensued. Big Sister, fifteen at the time, thought this was the funniest thing she had ever heard, Mom desperately tried to keep a straight face, while Dad sputtered over his mashed potatoes.

   The boy didn't know exactly what he had said to cause such a stir (and it wasn't explained to him) but he knew enough that he had crossed over one of those "invisible lines" of polite society, and he quickly let the matter drop. The next week, at the grocery store, he did some investigating and sort of figured out what a "Sanitary Napkin" (and its associated hardware) was, although he still couldn't quite grasp the why of it all. "Girls' stuff," he sniffed.

   And that was the end of it. Until he was much older, when the story was repeated by his sister to each of his girlfriends.

By Professor Batty



4 Comments:

Blogger Just Mom said...

I am rolling on the floor laughing. I can just see mom's face. What I want to know, was this before or after you suggested fingerbowls for the dinner table at home?


Blogger Professor Batty said...

... it was about the same time- I was evidently going through a "neatness" phase...


Blogger Kristín said...

Oh, bless!

Only two girlfriends? How modest...


Blogger Professor Batty said...

... in meant, of course, each and every, although the total would remain the same...

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