In a land where the river runs free, in a land to a shining sea … and you and me are free to … wear polyester

Target’s new ad touting its back-to-school wares and featuring the 1972 album “Free To Be You and Me” aired on the episode of “Project Runway” I taped last week, and when I caught a snippet of it while fast-forwarding through the commercials, I just had to stop and listen.

I was instantly transported to spring 1977. I was in fourth grade, wearing a pink polyester high-necked dress that my mother had shortened after I was appointed to wear the floor-length version while lighting candles at my uncle and aunt’s wedding. The pink material was broken up by white puffy blossoms. Cut just above the knee, that dress perfectly showed off my white knee-highs with the pink and pastel blue elastic tops.

I stood at the microphone reciting a sketch of some sort from the “Free To Be You and Me” album my music teacher had transformed into the fourth grade pageant. (I remember that music teacher’s black and brown velvet pants, which I imagined she wore when she had her period. It’s in fourth grade that girls learn about menstruation; when one first learns to be terrified of “spotting,” one is watching for how to disguise it. I also remember my fourth grade teacher’s bosom — big and round — the sort every fourth grade girl dreams of. But I digress.)

Anyway, I remember standing on stage at Memorial Auditorium reciting something I had memorized, but I don’t recall the bit. I do remember “Boy Meets Girl” originally voiced by Marlo Thomas and Mel Brooks about gender stereotypes. I believe David Christianson, with his gravelly voice even in fourth grade, played the “boy” part, while Stephanie Tapley played the “girl” part with perky bubblegum flourish. I also remember a line from my recitation included a reference to Lena Horne. She is not mentioned in the “Boy Meets Girl” schtick, and Lena Horne did not play a part in the “Free To Be You and Me” album, so perhaps I am misremembering.

If you want to be transported, too, check this out:

Honestly, Dear Reader, this blog post is not evidence of my best work. Before clicking above, check out another one of my posts. Consider bookmarking me and following me for awhile. While it’s my blog and I’m free to be me, most of my other posts have better endings. And better writing. This one, well, tapped into some sort of cultural consciousness with the “river runs free” line and I’m getting dozens of hits a day on it, but you really shouldn’t miss the rest of this blog.

One response to “In a land where the river runs free, in a land to a shining sea … and you and me are free to … wear polyester

  1. Pingback: The No. 1 secret to accumulating blog readers | Minnesota Transplant

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