On September 11th 1977, back when that wasn't a bad day to think about, we had a family dinner at my grandmas and afterward we watched Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas or something like that. I sat on the floor coloring and playing with this really cool playset my grandma had gotten me from Readers Digest or something (totally a different post is warranted).
At some point in the show David Bowie comes on and they sing Little Drummer Boy together.
When that happens first of all, all the adults wonder who this is with Bing Crosby. My grandmother issues a great missive of distaste, "Oh land who is this ugly fella with Bing? Why would they have him on?" They all talked through most of it, being disappointed that some nobody was hogging up the song, disliking it
In my memory of it, Bowie has on a sweater. Clearly that's wrong. Regardless, I remember two things.
1. I remember thinking that David Bowie looked like he was standing on an alien planet. I didn't know at the time but this was an effort to make him more mainstream, so he was definitely ON an alien planet for him. I didn't know anything about him. I was 9. I just remember distinctly feeling like he wasn't where he should be, that somehow he didn't belong in this setting and that it wasn't because he was ugly.
2. I was amazed how beautiful his voice was, despite the noisy adults in the room.
He was quickly forgotten by me until years later, when I remembered the ugly fella and the awkward Christmas special.
None of that much matters in the grand scheme, but last night driving home and listening to this beautiful duet it occurred to me that from that moment in time - when I sat quietly playing on the floor while the adults scoffed at this performance, I'm the last one alive.
My great grandmother, grandmother, great uncle, mother and father were also in the room. They're all dead. No one but me remembers that night, that meal, that conversation. I'm the lone survivor of this one night, and in fact of 1000s of them that just haven't been called to the surface yet.
What a disturbing thought.