(Stop thinking about MTV!)
Granted, science was never my oeuevre (at all), but my blase reaction to the moon landing could only be chalked up to youthful ignorance. My life in the summer of 1969 was comprised of transistor radios, gabbing on the telephone, and swimming pools.
It was a Sunday night and I happened to trounce through the living room, where my dad was settled into his corner recliner and Mom was perched on the sofa, and Walter Cronkite was intoning through the console TV's speaker. Dad uncharacteristically decreed, "You should watch this." So, I obediently slumped, cross-legged, smack-dab in front of the screen, and tried to decipher what was happening. The picture on the tube was wavy; jagged white lines skittering across the black screen. I was frankly bored, but Walter was excited. I watched Neil Armstrong descend a little ladder onto the surface of the moon and say something like, "That's one (static) step for man; one (static) leap for mankind."
Okay! Can I go now?
I was as unimpressed as only a teenager could be. As I stood up to leave, I sensed my dad's disappointment in my apathetic attitude. And Walter was surely disappointed in me. At least he didn't whip off his eyeglasses. Although I'm pretty sure he shed a tear.
To be honest, I couldn't grasp the magnitude of the moment. My world wasn't that big. At fourteen, one's universe doesn't extend much further than three feet in circumference; much less two hundred thousand-some miles. I thought walking across the Memorial Bridge to the neighboring town was an expedition.
And I can't use the music of the day as an excuse. 1969 was a putrid year for music, especially during that particular week. The number one song was by someone called Zager and Evans (Ooh! Not the Zager and Evans!)
Here's the number two song (no live performance video, but it's vital that I demonstrate what a fetid band Blood, Sweat, and Tears was):
And it actually does get worse. But why dwell on that? Here are some better songs from that week's chart:
(People actually thought like that in '69.)
(People actually thought like that in '69. And I'm aware that this is a poorly-synched video.)
(Don't you love how the lead singer dances? Sort of like Beto O'Rourke.)
The first time I saw this next group on TV, I thought, "What did these idiots do to that nice Mel Tillis song?". My second thought was, "Hey, loser with the tinted glasses and the earring ~ enjoy your career while it lasts."
It's a wonder I was preoccupied by music. I should have paid more attention to Dad and Walter. And my future science teachers would have appreciated my profound knowledge, as opposed to the befuddled looks I cast in their direction during lectures.
In hindsight, the moon landing was a pretty big deal. Sadly, I'm still not feelin' the love; but the mature me understands it was probably more extraordinary and earth-shattering than The Turtles' new hit.
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