Sunday, February 23, 2014

Details, details

In 1977 I turned twelve. My parents had divorced when i was three, but Dad came to visit a few times despite the distance - my mother and brother and I lived in California, Dad in Alaska. Dad remarried, choosing a woman with two sons roughly the ages of my brother and me. Then he had another child, a daughter. For two years running Dad sent me and my brother tickets to join him and his new(er) family for a vacation in Hawaii. I have fond memories of the experience, even if my stepbrothers and I didn’t always get along; the little sister was five years younger, if I remember right, and a charming bundle of energy.

Lately I’ve been reading Barack Obama: the story, which is less a biography of Barack Obama than it is a collage of details, all sorts of people and places, with Obama (and his ancestors) weaving through them. Obama was born in Hawaii and spent most of his childhood there. He attended an elite school on Oahu called Punahou. This passage about the graduation ceremony connected with a couple of my own life’s details:

[S]eniors had to sing for their diploma. Since the end of April there had been six weeks of rehearsal for the entire class, mandatory … Classmates had written some of the songs and chosen the others. … One of the contemporary songs they performed was “This Day Belongs to Me” by Seals and Crofts, from the soundtrack of One on One, a Robbie [sic] Benson movie about Barry Obama’s favorite sport.

One on One was shown on the plane to (or from) Hawaii. I remember not wanting to see it because it was about sports, the sort of thing I hated at school and was quickly bored by as a spectator. A whole movie about basketball? Ugh. Plus wasn’t Robby Benson kind of funny-looking? But I remember liking the movie all right. I just looked up the song “This Day Belongs to Me” and it doesn’t sound familiar but it’s a pleasant ditty. I would have liked it as a kid, probably more than now. I bet it sounded just fine coming out of teen throats at Barry’s graduation.

Robby Benson is better looking than I remembered, but this scene I found on youtube makes me uncomfortable now with its calculated bullying by the authority figures and I’m sure it enraged me at the time. Surely Robby got his revenge?

source of quote: Barak Obama: the story by David Maraniss

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