Dear Marlo Thomas,
Okay. I know I always make fun of you and your whole 'Free To Be You And Me' deal. But really, you just made it too easy. Beyond that I have a lot of reservations of how the 70s panned out in terms of the collective parenting of that decade's youth. To which, you so creatively contributed. But that's a conversation for later. Preferably with a well trained therapist.
I have to say that while looking back now I can totally appreciate your message, but at the time it just confused me as I grew older. Because I didn't want to wear a hard hat or be a cop or race motor bikes. What I wanted was to wear short skirts and high heels and big hair and dance in music videos. Where was THAT in 'Free To Be You And Me?' Because if it was there, I didn't see it. Where was *I* represented in that whole egalitarian switcharoo stew?
And Marlo, you must know that it took me a long time to understand that as a young woman it was 'okay' for me to want to do shake my money maker in music videos. You know, for lack of a better term lo these many years later. To want to do that MORE than want to wear a waist belt and do a bunch of heavy lifting. While being a slightly suspect career path in general, I had to learn that it was 'okay' that the only factory I wanted to join was the C & C Music Factory. Union involvement optional.
I am not suggesting I was irreparably damaged, but damn girl I had to dance on a whole lot of speakers to work that out of my system. Have you ever danced on a speaker, Marlo? Yeah, they aren't so sturdy some of them. But I did it. Because we all need to learn how to rise up and bust out of the shackles and the confines and labels of our youth.
All that aside, I am writing you today to let you know how the afternoon passed in my house. My oldest boybarian spent it baking banana bread in the kitchen while his younger brother painted a picture of roses in the other room. And all I could think of was you. Well, after I smugly filed away that whoever the Duke ended up with couldn't accuse me of coddling him and therefore rendering him useless around the house. Damn right, bee-yotch! You'll get your home baked banana bread and you won't have a THING to blame me for! (Note to self; teach the Duke how to do the laundry. soon.)
Okay, so yeah, after *that* then I thought of you and your 'everybody gets a trophy because you're ALL #1!!!' approach that pretty much summed up the parenting creed of the decade in which I was born and bred. Which I then quickly blocked. And instead went for thinking of your message in its purest form, and for what it's boiled down to for me. And for how I see it, and practice it.
And that is how in my house it's not 'weird' to anyone that a boy would bake or paint a 'pretty' picture. Any more than it's not 'weird' that a pregnant mother would push her own stalled car out of traffic just because there was nobody to do it 'for her,' and because nobody stopped to help. So she pushed it herself. And nobody was surprised. That life is for living and experiencing and DOING free from consideration of what sex or gender you may have been born to. And in my house everyone's free to 'be who you are, just let others be who they are, too.' Okay, so it doesn't roll off the tongue like what you came up with, but you get the picture.
So, thanks. Thanks for being the first to expose me to how the world should just work. You know, if it worked perfectly. Always. (Except for the "dancing" thing. But, in your defense, I do believe that was an interpretational difference. I mean, look at Flashdance. She did both. But she had the whole 'Pittsburgh steel town girl' thing going on. Being from a California valley town previously known for cheap jug wine just doesn't have the same cache.)
Oh, and thanks for Alan Alda. 'Free To Be You And Me' was the first exposure I had to him, and hot damn I've been in love ever since. M*A*S*H just solidified that. Wasn't that the BEST show? Sigh. I'm only sorry I don't have a third son to name Hawkeye Pierce. Right?
Be well and give my best to Phil. You know, when AND IF he gets his break from all the housework and KP duty. Kidding!! Ha ha ha! Oh, Marlo. This has been fun.