I’m sitting here wondering whether to use the word “offal,” or the word “awful.” These are the things that keep me up at night. Well, the seventies were. Take your pick.
No one was up at night in the seventies. Well, not so’s you’d notice. You couldn’t buy a gallon of electricity with the proceeds of four misappropriated BEOG grants, so everyone left all their lights off all the time. I don’t know how much time I spent standing on a friend’s darkened porch pressing what I thought was a doorbell, but found out later was just a loose shingle. I’d give up and go home and they’d wonder what happened to me, and ring my phone once and then hang up, because no one could afford a phone call back then, either. You’d send coded messages to one another by counting phone rings. It limited you to a selection of very few coded messages, because after four rings or so from one of those black Ma Bell rotary wall phones with the four-alarm-fire bells in it, you’d answer it just to shut it up, and ruin the whole procedure.
Drugs were much simpler then, I’ll give you that. Rich people, who were somewhere between imaginary and hunted to extinction during the decade, started doing cocaine. But all that stuff accomplished was keeping you up all night so you could worry about how you were going to pay your rent for the next four months now that you spent it on fifteen-minutes-worth of cocaine.To save money, you could get a tubby girlfriend, and bum diet pills off her, which was pure speed. The pills, not the girlfriend. Those would make you stay up day and night, too, but on a budget, and with the money you saved you could find that guy, usually driving a Datsun B210 with an “Gas, Grass or Ass” front license plate bracket, and buy some Quaaludes from him. Then you could gobble those and reach a sort of equilibrium. You could manage to stay awake through all seven minutes of that video, for instance, but it wouldn’t gouge out your retinas and melt your cerebral cortex like it would if you were stone sober or speeding like state trooper.
What, you mean you’re sober right now? Well, don’t watch the video, then. If you’ve already watched it, I apologize, because some things can’t be unseen — like the elephant pants halfway through that extravaganza, or a picture of the President of the United States in a canoe trying to kill a bunny with a paddle.
If you were of a more traditional mind, say, the kind of person that wore a Whip Inflation Now button unironically, you could just abuse alcohol like a normal person. The drinking age was more informal then. You had to be tall enough to put the coins on the counter at the liquor store. That was about it. And the smokes are for my mother, honest.
By the by, I mentioned irony, but everything in the seventies was done unironically. There were no hipsters, so there was no irony. There was Andy Warhol, but he was acting ironically ironically, so he doesn’t count. Those people in that video meant to do whatever it was they were doing. They did it on purpose. You were supposed to like it, and be entertained by it. No, I’m not joking.
As I started to say earlier, alcohol abuse was your only hope to get through the entire 120 months of Seldom and Gommoron the seventies brought upon us. All the bars were full of ferns, brass rails, and disco, tube tops and turd curls, but they served liquor. They served liquor like Niagara serves water. They never shut you off in those places, just handed you a toe tag to go with your bar tab. It was glorious. I think.
Note to my readers from the non-distaff side of the ledger: If the seventies come back, you’ll be buying all the drinks for girls in the bars again. No one went halfsies back then, and men were expected to have a job and everything. Anyway, word to the wise: It’s really hard to get rid of the smell of a Sloe Gin Fizz that’s been vomited on the deep shag floormats in your AMC Javelin, so shut her off after five or so.