WE HAD DRIVEN deep into Virginia on the way to Grandma and Grandpop's, almost to the North Carolina border, when Brother Bob flipped the car radio to an oldies station out of Roanoke.
The Marvelettes were singing in thin, adolescent-girl voices, "Beechwood 4-5789."
And all of a sudden, the words just popped out of my mouth: "You can call me up and have a day-ate, any ol' time!"
Brother Bob thought that was strange indeed. "What the heck was that?" he asked, peering at me as he careened our rented van down U.S. 29. "Don't tell me you're going through some sort of second adolescence?"
Actually, I'm on my third adolescence. But Brother Bob, who is six years younger than I, is still too young to know about such things.
That's also why he doesn't know about the Marvelettes, because the year they were giving the whole world their phone number he was still trying to eat his strained peas and carrots with a spoon instead of decorating the walls with them.
Next, the Beatles sang: "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah!" And I chirped: "With a love like that, you know it can't be bad."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah!" groused Brother Bob. "I wish they'd play something from my generation."
Sure enough, the next thing they played was some pitiful drivel by James Taylor, the name of which I can't even remember.
"Remember that one, wasn't it great!" Bob says to his wife, Rose. "I used to love that song!"
Rose is sitting in the back with Baby Allen and Rosalyn, light of my life. Rose bobs her head enthusiastically. "There were so many great songs from the '70s," she sighs.
Meanwhile, I'm thinking: Great songs from the '70s? Isn't that an oxymoron? What are they talking about?
There were no great songs from the '70s, unless maybe you count the theme song from "Saturday Night Fever." Maybe not even then.
But rather than argue, I decided to be philosophical. After all, I mused, consider the vast musical wasteland our 13-year-old Precocious One inhabits. The little adolescent darling actually thinks anyone older than Coolio is hopelessly out of touch.
Then again, Precocious One had her ears perverted a few years back when Grandma forgot to read the explicit warning label and mistakenly bought the child a copy of Snoop's "Doggy Style" for a birthday present.
Grandma, of course, was a great Nat "King" Cole fan. Oh, how she loved that man! She thought Nat was the cat's meow during her second adolescence back in the 1940s.
So we understand Grandma meant no harm giving Precocious One "Doggy Style," which she probably got mixed up with "How Much Is That Doggy in the Window?"
I don't know who Grandma's idols were during her first adolescence, which was so long ago maybe they didn't even have people called adolescents then.
Anyway, I'm on my third adolescence now. But I didn't tell Brother Bob that because I didn't want him to suspect that after we tuck Precocious One in for the night, I slip down to the basement and secretly listen to "Doggy Style," which Grandma mistakenly gave her when she was 10 and which Rosalyn didn't take away from her until she was 12, after she finally heard the lyrics and realized the reason she'd never heard them before was because the radio stations considered them too filthy ever to play over the air.
Rosalyn, by the way, went through her second adolescence some years back, which means she was listening to pitiful drivel by people like Phil Collins, instead of the great songs that were written during my second adolescence, like Donna Summer's "Bad Girls": "Toot, toot! Beep, beep!"
Now when Rosalyn and Rose feel bad, they put on that pitiful Phil Collins guy, and I practically go up a wall.
Once it got so bad I had to run out and buy them a great song from my first adolescence -- Otis Redding singing "I've Got Dreams To Remember."
Do you think they appreciated it? Do you think they got all weepy and sentimental and mushy inside when Otis laid it on 'em, talking about how he's Mr. Pitiful singing his lover's prayer on the dock of the bay? Fat chance.
No, they said Otis wasn't nearly as good as Earth Wind and Fire, Barry White and Luther Vandross, who were the idols of their first adolescence. Barry White! How pitiful can you get?
We made it to North Carolina OK, but the trip frankly made me fear for Baby Allen's adolescence, which is only about 12 years away.
By then, not only will all the songs be too filthy ever to play over the air, but he'll have parents who still think the pitiful drivel of the '70s was the good old days.
By the time Allen reaches adolescence, I'll have to give him Beethoven to make a man of him.
As for his hormones, he can always have my old Donna Summer album: Toot, toot! Beep, beep!
Pub Date: 5/12/96