Reality TV Just Reminded Me: I'm Getting Older & So Is Patti LaBelle.

When grown folks in their 30s have no awareness of your personal rock gods, well, let's just say it's not a good day.

After the age of 28 or so, a woman’s life  is occasionally punctuated with achingly short insights — quick slaps upside the brain. The best ones come perhaps only every 10 years. The growth of children in our lives chronicles the passage of time, of course, but for this discussion, let’s keep it more personal.

I’ll bet you remember the first time a store clerk called you “Ma’am”. Sure you do.  Do you remember the first time a little kid called you “Ma’am”? (Were your reactions any different?)

How about the first time your dad genuinely needed your help?  First hot flash? First grey hair? Down there?

What happened to me recently was as close as I want to come to being socked in the gut by Mike Tyson.  It was my own fault, really, because I was watching TV tripe, BRAVO’s Real Housewives of New Jersey.

(Yes. It’s a monkey on my back. It’s like dirty novels and bon-bons delivered every day to my house.)

First, The Good Part: Greg is roommates with the Manzo brothers. (Their mother is a Housewife.) At a trade show, Greg sees R&B icon Patti LaBelle. She sells food sauces and marinades these days. Anyway, Greg just about loses his mind, dissolving into every stereotype there ever was about what makes a gay man deliriously happy.  Turns out, Miss Patti, 68, watches Real Housewives and knows who Greg is! My life has lots of gay people in it, and I’m just sayin’, Greg and LaBelle were super funny to me.

The Other Part (finally! the reason for this post!!):

Albie Manzo, a seemingly nice guy, is the older, supposedly more responsible brother. Albie is 26 years old.  He says, directly into the camera:

“I’m going to be really honest: I don’t totally know who Patti LaBelle is.” Albie also asks Greg, “So, what’d Patti Labelle sing, anyway?” 

(Oh geez i’m hyperventilating again. Where’s an AED when you need one? Here's the clip from BravoTV.)

The group Patti Labelle and the Bluebells changed its name to LaBelle while I was in college.  In 1974, she introduced the globe to Lady Marmalade.  It was Patti LaBelle, not Christina Aquilera, who took dirty talk on the radio to France. And in the ’70s, people had to work to translate the famous lyric, “Voulez-vous couchez avec moi?” There was no Translator.com.

When I graduated, so did Patti, with a kick-butt solo career. Tell me you know. New AttitudeOn My Own (with Michael McDonald). You Are My Friend!

It’s not like it’s a big surprise that the music of my youth is now officially old. Heck, two Beatles, Teddy Pendergrass and James Brown are dead. The Rolling Stones can jam, but they look like hell. It’s hard not to notice when Philip Bailey can’t hit the high notes in Earth Wind and Fire’s greatest hits.  Best recourse: turn up the volume and dance it out!

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Jason Lea July 26, 2012 at 10:08 AM
Patti taught me Spanish too. I'm pretty sure the first words of the language that I learned were Me Gust Tu Baile.


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