I squinted at it as it floated by, trying not to see too much, because at the time, I was only in season three.
Meanwhile, Chris Pratt is winning over the world, following up Guardians of the Galaxy with Jurassic World and talks of being Indiana Jones. But I’m still in season two of Parks and Recreation, where he’s the schlumpy but lovable ex-boyfriend of Rashida Jones, and he’s shining shoes for a living.
I’m behind everybody else. Again.
“I really like this band, The Police,” I told someone in 1986. “I just started listening to them, and they’re really good.” “Too bad they just broke up,” my friend responded. Well, shit. I guess I won’t be seeing them in concert anytime soon.
I remember another friend of mine telling me about this new singer I should listen to. I pooh-poohed her, since my friend’s taste usually ran to banal pop music, like ‘N Sync and Beyoncé. She begged me to listen, and I ignored her. Six months later, Norah Jones cleaned up at the Grammys. Oops. And she was good. I still listen to those very songs my friend wanted me to hear, fingers no longer stuck in my ears, “blah-blah-blah-blah-blah” no longer coming across my lips.
But guess what? Being a pop culture late bloomer is actually an advantage. When I discover an author, a singer or a TV show, there’s already a wealth of material for me to enjoy. It’s like when you’re a teenager, and you discover The Beatles. There’s a musical, transformational journey at your fingertips, as you watch them change from four guys in matching suits with bobbing heads to hippies, to radicals, to solo artists, and family men. Meet The Beatles is just as exciting as The White Album, especially with context. And then there are all the movies, not to mention boatloads of photos, B-sides, bootlegs and fascinating trivia.
TV shows are different. Music needs to be listened to over and over to really absorb it, but one good binge-watch will get you intimate with a TV series without repeat viewings, and you can live and breathe it just as much as you do with a new album. Remember when Netflix announced it was adding Gilmore Girls to its lineup? Everyone else talked about which episodes they wanted to watch again, but to me it was all new. All seven glorious seasons were there for me, and none had commercials, promos or romantic cliffhangers. The characters invaded my dreams and made them so much better. And when Kristina got sick on Parenthood, I had the power of Google, which could tell me if she was going to survive it or not. I don’t think I could have kept going without it. And oh, am I glad I did.
So being a late bloomer isn’t so bad. It may be no fun in other areas: Delayed puberty was no picnic in the park. Delayed romantic life? Also not fun. But delayed pop culture? It’s a gift.
Think about it: I haven’t even gotten to the “Red Wedding” yet on Game of Thrones. I had a whole collection of Police albums to enjoy. And Parks & Rec doesn’t come in 22-minute nuggets for me; instead it’s an all-afternoon Pawnee party. This is fun!