history abhors a vacuum


I’m going to tell three alarmingly short, totally true stories that I call Great Moments in Era Self-Awareness.

1. It’s June of 1982, and I’m barely fifteen years old, walking down the beach in Duck, NC with my classmate and great friend Hamp Tucker. I’m wearing pink, black and chartreuse Jams and a shirt that is dark blue on one side and light blue on the other and it says “17th Street Surf Shop”. Hamp is wearing cherry red culottes and a ripped rose-hued B.D. Baggies poplar button-down. “You know,” he suddenly says, “I think people are going to look back at this time and think it was all in incredibly poor taste.”

2. Some time in 1983, my brother Sean, my sister Michelle, and their friend Chip Davis were in our bedroom listening to the radio. “Jack and Diane” comes on, and all three stay silent for a while. Finally, Chip says, in all seriousness, “Man, it’s true. Life does go on long after the thrill is gone.” Sean puts down his Rubik’s Snake and says “Chip, we’re twelve.”

3. It’s spring of 1987, and I’m in Grimes Dorm at Carolina with Chris Chapman, Jon Vaden and the Budster. Bud has ordered Roman Wings, Jon is watching “Sanford and Son” reruns, and I’m lost in thought, skipping orchestra. During an ad, Jon mutes the television. Suddenly, I’m overcome to say “Is anything ever going to happen?” and the Budster says “No, we live during the most boring period of American history ever.”

I mention these things because one must really take stock of one’s era while one’s living it, and I have to ask… sea change in American government, first African American President, meltdown of capitalism, imminent environmental disasters, flu pandemic? Is it me, or does more happen in a week these days than happened in an entire decade while we were growing up?


me, Bud, Chip and Jon in boring times (1987) ↑ and batshit times (2008) ↓


0 thoughts on “history abhors a vacuum

  1. CM

    that was awesome.
    plenty happened. we just weren’t aware. like, nearly exactly 30 years ago was a partial nuclear meltdown in pennsylvania.
    and…the invention of a rubik’s snake was a milestone.

  2. Anne

    I think it’s partially an awareness thing.
    Sometimes now I am so acutely aware, and thrilled by, the historical events of my lifetime so far (born 1951), my skin seems to tingle. The hairs rise on my neck. How did I get lucky enough (as someone who loves stories, histories) to live through the Dick & Jane & Spot & Puff 1950s, the writhing upheaval of the 1960s, and all the rest? I try to describe to my children how enormous the changes have been since the early 1950s, and they roll their eyes at the dinosaur before them. No cell phones? No computers? Girls had to wear skirts to school?
    It’s amazing.

  3. frcathie

    i was just saying to chris (chip) last night – we grew up in an era where it seemed that everything had already happened.
    we were talking about obama’s election, and how one huge change with it is the generational one. how until lately, we were always led, taught, etc. by those of previous generations (boomers, the ever-pretentious ‘greatest’ generation) who were always harking back to the good old days, before all us spoiled ‘kids’ came along (never mind that we are now middle-aged).
    finally, we live in interesting times, i.e. NOT in the immediate shadow of the 60’s, WWII, other generations’ cultural touchstones. it is a bit frightening sometimes, but thank GOD we are in unchartered waters.

  4. Jack

    I know this isn’t the point, but capitalism isn’t melting down, it never even came close. We are experiencing a recession and a reorganization of banking and credit structures. It is very difficult for some people. But it is a blip and offers no suggestion that capitalism is coming to an end. When this is over (2010/2011) things are going to be pretty much the same.
    This is not to say that I’m not glad that I’m not in Iceland right now (that’s a lot of ‘nots’), but the point is the same…

  5. emma

    Is it possible that Jon V. is related to Richard Alpert from Lost? He doesn’t appear to age over the years.

  6. Neva

    I was just telling someone one of my favorite stories about when someone tried to set me up with my (now) husband back in 1994 I couldn’t tell what he looked like on the med school composite picture b/c his head was under the frame on the wall (being a B name it was on the top row and evidently they were too cheap to buy a mat for the photo).
    The (much younger) person I told this story to was shocked. Now a days with Facebook, My space, those amazing internet tubes with their digital photos and whatnot – it’s impossible to not see what someone looks like anymore.
    Then when I told her the romantic story about how he left me a note in my mailbox at the med school and how we didn’t communicate by email or cell phones back, then she was totally taken aback.
    We have seen some amazing changes and I believe we are in for many more!

  7. LFMD

    Emma – I say the SAME THING about Jon every time Ian posts a recent photo.
    Neva – I agree. During a recent trip to a college campus, I was struck by all of the cell phone use/texting going on. Can you imagine dating or friendships in the age of cellphones (and cameraphones)?? It must be like a whole other world, and not necessarily a good one.

  8. Rebecca

    I think we were just ignorant. There was plenty going on in the world, we just didn’t know about it because we didn’t have constant news channels. In addition, the media didn’t make a huge story over 100 people with the flu. Suddenly if there’s a low pressure system headed towards Los Angeles, the news lead is “STORM WATCH 2009”. Really? Over a possibility of 2 inches of rain?
    My Dad was the editor of the local newspaper when I was growing up. He would bring home news off the AP wire that I found fascinating. When asked why it wasn’t in the paper, his answer was that either there wasn’t room, or people actually were more interested in the scores from all the little league games from the night before. Ignorance was bliss.

  9. michelle

    Having just watched another episode of “Lost” with Jon, I can attest that the similarities start at the eyelashes.


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