When I was five years old, disco (and John Travolta) fever was in full swing!
My mother and father had divorced when I was two, and Mom had married another man not long after—a friend of her brother’s. He was a good man, and because I only saw my biological father on Sundays at my grandmother’s house, my stepfather was the man I understood to be my “dad” at that time. Young children don’t recognize the ins and outs of adult relationships, and in the 70s, people didn’t necessarily tell their children what was going on in their lives. I understood that there were some things that I shouldn’t ask about, so I didn’t. There were some things I did ask, but was told, “Don’t worry about it. That’s not for you to think about.” So I was left to worry and think about it in silence, in the confusion of my own five-year-old mind.
For the most part, our family seemed like other families. I didn’t know anything about divorce, none of my friends’ parents’ were divorced, and it didn’t occur to me that my stepfather was anything other than my dad—after all, I had never lived with any other man but him. It didn’t seem strange that I called him by his first name because I called my grandmother by her first name too. He did all the things that dads did. He worked, he came home, he played golf on the weekends. We played games together and he told me he loved me. And that was enough.
He seemed to love my mother too. I never heard or saw them fight—at least not during those early years. He was an important guy where he worked and there were many dinners and parties associated with his job, and I loved watching Mom put on her dresses and heels as they got ready to go to the country club or to some other function. I was happy then. Through my five-year-old eyes, they seemed happy too. Everyone I knew seemed happy to me at that time.
When Saturday Night Fever came out in the theaters and everyone was gaga over the movie, John Travolta, and the BeeGees, Mom and my stepfather took disco lessons. I remember them coming home, playing the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack on the turntable, and showing me the steps they had learned. Turns, shuffles, hands moving and fingers pointing diagonally across their bodies and then in the air. And “More than a Woman” played on the stereo…