Thursday, May 25, 2006

I'm a little bit country, he's a little bit out of the loop

The Husband has no grasp of pop culture. He has some sort of brain shield that protects him from all the pop culture related information that somehow permeates the brain of every person in America. For example: We recently started watching the Lost Season 1 DVD’s. The first shot of the first episode is a close up of Matthew Fox, lying in the jungle. The Husband’s comment: “Why is he lying in the middle of the jungle?”

“He fell out of a plane,” I said. Now, I had never seen the show either. But I was of course aware of the general premise that it was about a bunch of people whose plane crashed on a deserted island. How could you not be aware of that? And yet, he didn’t seem to know.

But I’ve been long accustomed to his knowledge gap. Whenever there is a conversational reference to a person who was famous before 1985 and who has nothing to do with science fiction or fantasy, I have to check that The Husband knows who that person is. It’s a little like being married to someone from another country. Last night, for example, we were at the In-Laws’ house, and I asked my mother-in-law the name of the man married to one of her cousins. “Danny Thomas,” she said.

“Oh, that should be easy to remember,” I said, and she agreed. Then I said, “But not for The Husband, because he has no idea who Danny Thomas is.” Mother-in-law expressed surprise, and asked The Husband if this were true.

“Yes, I know who Danny Thomas is,” he said scornfully, rolling his eyes.

“Really?” I said, surprised, and there were a few minutes of conversation about Danny Thomas during which The Husband slowly realized something.

“Wait, I know who Danny Thomas your cousin’s husband is. If there is another Danny Thomas, then I don’t know him,” he said.

“Ah ha!” I said. “That’s what I thought. Well, he was a comedian in the 50’s. He was on Make Room for Daddy, and he started St. Jude’s Hospital. He’s also Marlo Thomas’s father, but, of course, you don’t know who she is.” He had to admit that he did not. To his credit, he did turn out to know who Jack Benny was.

When I explained to Mother-in-law that The Husband doesn’t know pop culture, she said it must be because he was always reading when he was growing up. “Even if we were all watching TV, he had a book in front of him at the same time,” she said. But, you see, that does not explain it. Because I, too, read a lot when I was growing up. But I have determined that one of the differences between my and The Husband’s pop cultural education is that, while we both read a lot of books as children, I read books from many genres and he read fantasy. Sometimes he would branch out into science fiction, but not often. And there are not a lot of references to Donnie and Marie in The Sword of Shaara. We have also decided that the other factor must be The Husband’s tendency to completely dismiss information that he deems unimportant. If he doesn’t already know who or what people are talking about, he just casts it from his mind.

He must do this, because until about four years ago when I brought them up in conversation, The Husband had never heard of Donnie and Marie. I admit that most people my age probably would not recognize Donnie and Marie if they saw them, and I bet a lot of my friends probably think they are married instead of brother and sister, and most are probably unsure of the reason for their fame, but when I say The Husband had never heard of them, I mean he had never heard of them. He did not know that the names “Donnie and Marie” are forever linked in the minds of most Americans. He had never heard of the Osmonds at all.

“Oh, come on!” I said. “Purple jumpsuits? Variety show? Mormons?” Nothing rang a bell.

The whole Donnie and Marie incident marked a turning point in our relationship. When I discovered the gap in his knowledge, I was amazed and made endless fun of him. At first, he was defensive about his pop-culture disability, and insisted that I only knew about Donnie and Marie because of my older siblings. “My younger brother probably never heard of them either,” he said. So we asked him.

“Of course I’ve heard of Donnie and Marie!” came the reply.

“But how does he know about them?” The Husband cried. “He’s younger than me!”

“Because,” I told him, “everyone has heard of Donnie and Marie. The real mystery is how come you haven’t.”

So now, when cultural references are made, I check to make sure he understands. Sometimes he does, I’ll admit, but he is no longer offended that I assumed he didn’t get it.

And I guarantee you that he does not get the title of this entry.


The Husband said...

I think that I will have to call my wife on the last reference in the above story. I beleive that I do know the reference. I am quite sure the reference is from a duet song where one of the exchanges is " I'm a little bit country..." "I'm a little bit rock 'n roll.."


Mo said...

Yes, but WHO SINGS IT?

EditorKat said...

Do you think, maybe, that your pop culture life was affected by the fact that you have 4 older sisters?

Mo said...

Well, yes, but still. I grant you, had his brother been older, he would have been unlikely to have owned the Donnie and Marie dolls, complete with purple jumpsuits and microphones, but he had never heard of them! Never heard the names! How is that possible?

Doktah said...

I didn't know who Danny Thomas was. And I must say for the record, I really enjoy conversing with The Husband who knows about science and philosophy and technology.

My frustration lies with people who don't know current events. "News" is not Americal Idol and Angelina and Brad's baby. It's earthquakes in Indonesia and the economic implications of ebay and Yahoo merger.

So I have to side with the Husband on this one. I'll take George Stephanopoulous over Regis and Kelly any day. Of course, I'd take Spongebob over Regis and Kelly.

Doktah said...

...wait, does the Husband know who Spongebob is?

Banalities said...

I learned all my pop culture from inordinate TV-watching, which is not as bad it sounds. I mean -- my parents moved to America when I was almost five and didn't know a lick of English. A year later, thanks mainly to Sesame Street and the Electric Company, I was the best speller in the first grade. The side effect was picking up all sorts of useless information about celebrities and commercial products, which I also studied just as intently, out of (social) necessity, to converse with and fit in with the public at large (i.e., other first graders).

I think the funny thing is that nowadays, what used to be the side effect is usually the main event... I was watching Hotel Rwanda the other day, and it occurred to me that while the genocide was going on, the OJ Simpson business was saturating our news shows, which made me feel very ashamed.

Jen said...

He wasnt living in a plastic bubble for a good portion of his life was he?

Ive even heard of them and they are almost old enough to be my parents.

Not together of course..being brother and sister..and mormon of course I think thats frowned upon. :)