Where Have All The John Travoltas Gone?
Monday, August 3, 2009
I was in an extremely bad mood the other day. You see, it was time for back-to-school shopping and nothing puts me in a surly mood faster than shopping with teen and preteen girls. It's terrible torture and my girls have learned to shop in fast-motion because my tolerance only goes so far and then it ends and when it ends it's like those crash dummy tests where they hit the wall going 100 miles an hour and limbs go flying and then we are DONE shopping, no matter where we are in the process.

This year, it's doubly painful because the Odawg is going off to college and we have endless college crap, dorm crap and just all around crap to buy.

We were shopping the other day when my tolerance exploded while at the cash register of Burlington Coat Factory. I noticed this little ad leaflet in Sunday's paper from Burlington Coat Factory and I was super impressed at all their inexpensive dorm stuff. I didn't know Burlington Coat Factory had dorm stuff. I didn't know they had anything but coats. Turns out they've got a whole mess of stuff besides coats.

The whole Burlington Coat Factory visit was spent squabbling, whining, and pleading for crap I refused to buy, although we still managed to put a cartload of crap together. I was at the register, paying, (or should I say trying to pay), but the whining and bickering was becoming so intense, it was like a pack of chihauhaus had taken up all the space in my brain. I was so distracted, I almost forgot to give the cashier my 40% off coupon and by the time I realized this, the cashier had to call for the register key which I guess at Burlinton Coat Factory is akin to waiting for an organ transplant. And I got so ticked that I was sitting there waiting on this rare, exotic register key thanks to the Chihauhas in my head and still they stood there yapping and yapping and yapping and it was at that very moment that I snapped, like an angry, insane tree branch.

"That's it! We are done! You people have driven me over the edge. I am shopping for YOU, for YOU. I do not need a clip-on full length mirror for my bathroom dorm door, nor a pair of Jessica Simpson wedges, and especially not an I heart Jonas Bros, nightie! I don't care about any of these things and I will walk away from them and you, if you don't stop the yapping, NOW!"

Victoria scurried away, pretending she didn't know us, because she hates when I embarrass her in public and I seem to do that quite often. The other two quieted down immediately. The cashier snickered, still waiting for the key, and said, "Mom, I am feelin you's."

The first day of the yapping we didn't get much accomplished. So, we were trying again, our second attempt.

And this is where I began the story- in the foul mood. I decided to snap on the TV while I was getting dressed, a rarity for me, (the tv watching, not the getting dressed) but I was just in a bad place, a fear- of- shopping-with-teens bad place.

I turned on my fave, the Bravo channel and this was on.

What a great mood-lifter! It was only the last 10 minutes, with the big car race and the finale where sweet, angelic Olivia Newton John decides to revamp herself into a whore so she can win John Travolta's heart, which is exactly the message I hope I'm conveying to my girls as they grow older. "If that boy doesn't like you for who you are, don't fret, just start smoking, wear some skintight leather pants and let him know, you're easy goods. He'll like you mighty quick! Wink! Wink!"

That movie is great fun. And it lifted my spirits as quick as you can say, Ramma lamma lamma ka dingity ding da dong.

As I was kind-of singing along to the few nonsenscial words I remember at the end, it suddenly hit me: Where have all the good musicals and dance movies gone? They're not around! Not anymore! When was the last time you saw a movie that took the nation by storm because of its song or dance?

And please, for the love of all things holy, don't even think it. High school Musical does NOT count.

I know there was Step it Up. (When colleges were sending O-Dawg material by the pounds, Maryland School of the Arts where Step it Up II was filmed, sent her a brochure. She wanted to apply right away, because I think she thought "Andie" and "Chase" are real kids who go to college there.) And then there's Dream Girls and Hairspray, but they don't even come close to the old ones.

And it's all because of one element-John Travolta. (I'm not talking the Hairspray John Travolta in drag. I'm talking the manly man John Travolta.)

Everyone remembers the first time they saw John Travolta strutting down the street using his walk, like a woman's man, no time to talk.

Everyone remembers, except for me that is. As I was headed out the door to the premiere, something my friends and I had all been waiting for, my overly strict father said, "Just a minute there, young lady? Isn't that movie rated PG? Nothin doin!"

I was 16. I was not about to tell my dad, PG movies were the least of his worries. There was also slurpees mixed with Jack Daniels, boys, fast cars, the path of PG and R rated movies in my viewing dust and a whole treasure trove of things we won't speak of.

But, Saturday Night Fever was such a phenomenon, it changed the culture of the day, ushering in a new kind of music, a new dance, a new fashion. Not that polyester and white suits were such a great fashion choice, but still...

We were all astounded at Vinnie Barbarino's dance moves. He was the modern day Fred Astaire, handsome with more charm and charisma than the big movie screen could hold.

He came back the next year, charming us again as Danny Zuko. This time I was allowed to go which, really, didn't make a lick of sense. That movie is so full of smut. Have you really listened to any of those lyrics?

And then there was Urban Cowboy. Oh, Urban Cowboy, how I loved you!

My sister and I shelled out our entire minimum wage salaries going to see this movie over and over and over, again.

We just couldn't get enough of Bud and Sissy, (what a talent that Deborah Winger. She needs to come back to the movie screen.) and their sweet, combustible, cowboy love story. At the end, when Bud puts Sissy's personalized license plate back in its dutiful place on the rear window of his truck and they zoom off and Johnny Lee is singing, "Looking For Love"- Oh how we fell in love every time.

We fell in love with the story. We fell in love with Bud's sweetness, and his dimple and and his twang and his sometimes fiery temper and his blue eyes and his dancing... especially his dancing.

And the world fell in love with cowboys, and two-stepping and mechanical bull riding.

All because of John Travolta.

Now, do you see what I mean?

It's been almost 30 years. (Wow-I'm getting super old.) 30 years and we haven't found anyone to fill his snakeskin boots.

They've tried over the years.

There was Kevin Bacon in Footloose. But, no. Kevin Bacon just didn't have it, at least not for me. First, his last name is Bacon. It's hard for me to get past that.

He was a good dancer, but I don't know, he just didn't have Johnny's silky smoothness. And for me, there was no charisma to be found in Kevin. None. I, actually, find him kind of creepy. Maybe it's the Bacon thing.

And he didn't do anything for the world. Well, perhaps he did for repressed religions who don't allow their kids to dance, maybe there. But no one else started dancing in barns or breaking out in synchronized dance steps at their prom.

Now, if Jennifer Beals had actually danced in Flashdance, we might have had a contender.

Another movie my sister and I went broke seeing every chance we could get. We loved that manic, furious dancing and practiced to get it down, but we could only do, like thirty seconds of those rapid-fire running-in-place steps, our thighs would burn too much. Flashdance did give the world ripped sweatshirts, but since no one could do the dance moves except highly fit aerobic instructors, Flashdance was a flash in the pan.

Probaby, the one who came the closest to capturing the crown was Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing. Patrick was handsome, charming, charismatic and a classically trained dancer.

That movie resounded with the world and everyone flocked to the dance floors for a little dirty dancing and to announce to all their friends, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner!"

But, then he didn't dance after that. I'm not sure why, maybe he was worried about being typecast. He should have stayed with the dancing, ahem, Roadhouse. It wasn't until he popped back up again in Ghost, did I even give him a second thought.

And I'm barely going to work my typing fingers to mention, Coyote Ugly. Gag. Nuff said.

Who's it going to be? Who? We need a dance hero. We need a John Travolta to lift our spirits in these dark economic times. Some of our most beloved musicals were made during bleak periods of our country's history, lifting the collective spirit of Americans everywhere. Think, The Wizard of Oz. It made the Great Depression a little less depressing, my dad used to say.

I can't think of anyone. There's been some talk about Zac Efron lately and sorry Jane, but Zac is not John Travolta material. He needs to have the ability to grow facial hair before he can be considered a contender.

The world has no John Travoltas. Great! Now I've got something new to put on my list of worries.

Today's Dooo Ittt Download: "How Deep Is Your Love" by the Bee Gees. Dear Me, How I love the Bee Gees! The Bee Gees were one of the most talented yet maligned groups on the planet, without a doubt. Their songs are beautiful, their harmonies spot-on spectacular. I have always loved The Bee Gees, even when it wasn't cool to love The Bee Gees. This is my favorite Bee Gee song and I was pleasantly surprised to hear when watching the Bee Gee's "Behind The Music", that this is Barry Gibb's favorite song, too.

A few years back, before Ipods, we were taking a road trip to Tennessee and I bought the Bee Gee's greatest hits, which are like a zillion songs, for the 14 hour car ride. At first The Hubby gave the CD's a scornful look and said, "The Bee Gee's?" But, as soon as those boys started singing all those wonderful old hits in their unnaturally high voices, he was as caught up as I was. We were meeting up with some friends and sharing a cabin for the week. The two manly husbands practically wore my Bee Gee CD's out, doing some jive-talking, that whole week.

Yesterday, I spent a good part of my day, creating a playlist for someone. Someone had asked me to make a playlist for their wife, to include with the Ipod he is giving her for her birthday. I get these requests often. You see, I am the playlist master. I get a feel for someone's musical tastes by asking questions, assessing their personality, their lifestyle, their hair texture and their purse contents. I combine all that together and make magic. I've been pretty successful, I hate to brag, but yeah... And with my library and the hubby's eclectic library, (still trying to fit in that Angela Lansbury tune with somebody), I create personalized music magic.

One of the things her husband requested was some Bee Gee's. It was so fun revisiting all my Bee Gee treasures. It started me thinking about the poor dead little brother Andy and then, of course, Maurice. I was incredibly sad when Maurice died. He was the quiet Bee Gee, just kind of the one who added his girl voice to the background, keeping the harmony smooth. He seemed like such a nice Bee Gee. And sadder too, the Bee Gees will never be able to create that unique sound ever again. The world is a tad bit less lovely without the promise of new Bee Gee music. How can we mend our broken hearts? How can we stop the rain from falling down? Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again. Gosh, that's good stuff! A shout out to the Bee Gees from a fan who never pretended anything else but love. Enjoy.


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