Thursday, May 29, 2008

Do you know what the Group W Bench is?

During blog rounds this morning, I found a fascinating discussion on getting old. Considering I'm probably decades older than most of the people lamenting their lost youth at the site, I've been following the 'defining moments' they're listing as the point at which they left their youth behind. It's been fun, so I'll admit to borrowing the theme.

Hearing their favorite songs on the oldies station.
OK, I can beat that. What about having your kids tell you about a great "new" song, and you can sing along because it's merely a remake?
Do they realize Paul McCartney was in a group before "Wings"?

Finding the first gray hair.
Been there, done that, hit the salon (see yesterday's post).

Not recognizing a line from Ferris Bueller.
What about the Group W Bench? Please tell me I'm not the only one left on the planet who knows what that means.

If I remember these (or the lack thereof) am I old?

Rotary dial phones. No area codes.

No zip codes.

Television was black and white (once we got one)

Mixing the color into margarine.

No home computers.

No cell phones.

No credit cards – stores had "Charge-a-Plates" with different notches for different stores.

"Your Hit Parade" and "Sing along with Mitch" instead of MTV.

Since I had to give a 'defining moment myself, I searched my failing memory banks and decided this would probably be it:

Although I don't really consider myself "old", I did get a bit of a jolt when my son took me to a UCLA game. Now, I'm a Bruin, and was at the school when the team never lost a game, so I figured it would be fun. Only for some reason, they let all these children go to college now. Back when I was there (and sitting in the section behind the broadcast 'booth' where Dick Enberg, the "Voice of the Bruins" did commentary), everyone at the game was MY age.

I guess some people are more sensitive to passing years. My mother refused to tell anyone WHY I was home for a visit when I went to my 20th high school reunion. No kid of hers would be old enough to be out of high school for 20 years. When she became a great grandmother a few months ago, the title didn't bother her as much as dealing with the fact that her daughter was a grandmother. It didn't bother me. I play CCR for the baby along with singing "On Top of Spaghetti". He responds pretty much the same way to both. But you can be sure he'll grow up knowing what the Group W Bench is.

For me, getting older sure beats the alternative. And nobody said I had to grow up.

So -- if you know what the Group W bench is, leave a comment!


Anna Campbell said...

Hi Terry! It's my first visit here. What a cool blog. And no, I have NO idea what the Group W Bench is. But then I'm an Aussie, so perhaps it's a cultural issue ;-) I had a scary moment about music the other day. I was talking to one of my best friend's teenage daughter and mentioned Savage Garden. Now, come on, Savage Garden aren't THAT old hat! But she had absolutely no idea who I was talking about. Sigh.

Terry Odell said...

Welcome, Anna -- and I hope you'll visit often.

(Um...I'm not aware of Savage Garden, either. Maybe it's because I'm NOT an Aussie?)

Beyond the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel, I get pretty clueless.

But the Group W Bench reference IS music.

PJ said...

Hi Terry! I followed Anna over here. Nice blog! I remember pretty much everything in your blog except the Group W Bench. I know I'm old enough...I remember the Beatles first visit to the US and my first concert was the Dave Clark Five. Maybe this small-town Michigan girl was into a different type of music?

I think my defining moment was the first time a teen clerk gave me the Senior discount without asking if I was old enough. (I wasn't!)

Anna, Savage Garden was within the past decade!

Anna Sugden said...

LOL Terry. I'm another one who doesn't know what the Group W bench is, but then I'm English.

I don't remember mixing the colour into margarine, but I do remember twin tub washing machines, coin-op meters to pay for gas and electric, tape recorders being the height of sophistication (we won't mention 8-tracks), the make-up that went on clear then turned a horrid shade of pink or orange, punk rock and the biggie in the UK pre-decimalisation!

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Never heard of a Group W Bench, and I grew up with the Beatles, black and white TV, rotary phones, no computers or cell phones or wireless anything. Today's technology is making me feel old: iPods, iPhones, podcasts, trackbacks, Adsense...who can keep up with this stuff?

Terry Odell said...

Nancy, I guess you weren't a 'flower child'. And although I wouldn't say Wikipedia is the best reference point, the answers are in here

Ani said...

I grew up in New York City in the 60's and remember the Beatles, Woostock and Arlo Guthrie. But do not recall Group W Bench.

Terry Odell said...

Well, the song wasn't exactly something the radios played -- given it runs about 20 minutes. But it's a family tradition around here.

When my daughters were getting their drivers licenses, the clerk told them to 'take a seat on that bench over there,' and we said, "Guess we're on the Group W Bench, and cracked up. Luckily, the other man on the bench knew what we were laughing about.

Jess said...

And there...on the other side. In the middle of the other side. Away from everythin' else on the other side. In capital letters. Quotated. Read the following words, "Kid! Have you rehabilitated yourself?!"...

I mean....I mean...I'm sittin' there on the "Group W Bench" cuz you wanna know if I'm loyal enough to join the Army, burn women, kids, houses, and villages after bein' a litterbug...

And do we need to mention the twenty-seven 8x10 color photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one?

However, everyone has to know that you can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant (exceptin' Alice).

And I won't even get to the significance of the pickle.

Oh...and I know who Savage Garden is, too. :)

Terry Odell said...

And I have it on good authority Jess quoted all that from memory. Do I know how to raise a kid or what?

(And she's even got me beat on Savage Garden, but then, she's a lot younger than I am, being my kid and all that.)

d2tm2 said...

Arlo and Alice know what the Group W bench is. Have YOU rehabilitated yourself?

Nicole said...

I know all about the group W bench! And my husband was sure to learn BEFORE we got married. ;-)

And there is this guy at work who often references 8x10 color glossy photos with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one.

I did buy an Arlo Guthrie t-shirt a few months ago and the girl selling it to me asked me who he was. So I was forced to tell her all about the Group W bench.

Jason Odell said...

Father stabbers. Mother rapers. FATHER RAPERS! All there, sittin' next to me on the bench! And the meanest, nastiest father raper of 'em all came up to me and said; "wha'd you get?".
And I said, "I didn't get anything. I had to pay $50 and pick up the garbage." "No," he said. "What were you in for?".
And I said, "litterin'".

And they all moved away from me on the bench, until I said, "and disturbing the peace." And then they all moved back and we had a great time on the bench...


Anonymous said...

You can get anything you want. I want a group W tee shirt