I’m not one of those TMZ-gazing celeb-watch types, but I fell out of my chair last week when I read former “Brady Bunch” actor Barry Williams had just turned 60. Sixty! Totally un-groovy move, Greg.
At this point, I think all of us are used to the likes of Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney hitting the high numbers. It seems they each have about five birthdays a year and I assume by now they’re both 90-somethings.
But Greg Brady? He’s a forever teenager. His jet black mop of curly hair, oversized polyester shirt collars and flared pants are frozen in amber. This can’t be. It just can’t.
Yet it is.
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I have an unusual, sort of personal investment in this traumatic news. About six years ago I wrote a column on my reluctance to see Barry Williams when he appeared here at the New Theatre Restaurant. I was lamenting about how, as a kid, I regarded “The Brady Bunch” and its people as litmus tests for normalcy and innocent youth.
In all its dorky, naïve glory, that show’s fictional family made me assume my childhood was a bit offbeat. I grew up with a “cawfee” drinking mom from Brooklyn and an accordion-playing, fromage-eating dad from France. I had chain-smoking relatives who wore cat-eye glasses. In my neighborhood, the closest thing we had to Sam the Butcher was Vinny* (*I changed the name there, wouldn’t you?) the ice cream man, who allegedly sold more than popsicles, if you catch my drift.
The Brady Bunch was so comforting.
Unusual stuff never happened on that show. Florence Henderson arranged flowers. Cindy had perfect pigtails. The boys tossed footballs in the backyard and just once, unwittingly, onto Marcia’s face — probably the biggest plot point ever in the series. Nothing ever got messier than that. Most of all, though, everyone on the show was young, or at least young-spirited, including Alice.
So it was in this paper six years ago I wrote about wanting to remember Barry Williams as his teenage self. I announced I would skip his play. But: He happened to read the column. In a surreal series of email volleys, he invited me and my husband to catch his live show and meet him afterward, to prove he was still young(ish).
Barry was indeed young(ish), and super neato, but that was six years ago. Now the groovy one is 60.
Not so comforting.
Hearing about such milestones occurring to people I “grew up with” gets me worrying about my own oxidizing powers. A lot. I’m not looking at 60 any time soon, but here’s a list of Scary Things I’ve been doing or thinking lately:
1. I’m on Jowl Watch. The fear is I’ll look in the mirror one day and see Richard Nixon staring right back at me. I check my lower cheeks constantly. Sometimes I push them up with my fingers.
2. Cellphone selfies have become a big production. I have to take about 30 shots to get one good one. Then, I edit that good one with a more flattering filter. An hour later, I delete it.
3. Diane Sawyer crisis! My patron saint of eyeliner has left the anchor desk. Worrisome.
4. I’m obsessed with eyeliner, see above. This can’t be good.
5. Seems like every week I forget the name of that band that did that song.
6. I linger a bit too long on the obit pages. Year of birth math calculations have become my personal Lumosity.
7. Lighting is now very important. I’m a bulb expert. Fluorescents are my enemy.
8. My name is no longer contemporary. Denise is the new Mildred.
9. Both kids are now in college, so I have outgrown PTO meetings. That’s right: I’m Post-PTO.
10. Alice is dead.
The positive from all this is that Greg Brady/Barry Williams is, in my warped opinion, a tremendous clip older than me. Thankfully, my next milestone birthday is kinda far out.
Freelance columnist Denise Snodell writes alternate Wednesdays.