Opinion: Cultural omnivore

Growing up in rural Indiana in the last half of the last century meant that one’s entertainment options were severely limited. With less than a handful of reliable television signals, radio was dominant. Wolfman Jack led the irreverent charge late-night. Wasn’t the so-called Dr. Demento another? But the remaining airtime was dedicated to the Farm Report and the local call-in swap show, Trading Post. To be sure, there is high drama in negotiating to exchange a used dryer for a collection of gas station glasses while live. But by in large, we small town Hoosiers had to make our own fun.

Some sang or played instruments. One cousin, a would-be playwright, would force her brothers and me to perform her dramas to our parents. In hindsight, the only good thing about the “shows” is that no one ever bothered to record one. But we came of age eager to be entertained. When the county fair was in town, we’d all go. When the local team played, we were there to cheer. When our cousin’s “band” was at the Odd Fellows, we’d sing along. When the drive-in movie would change every other week, we’d be first in line for the new flick.

In short, we became cultural omnivores. We learned to appreciate any work (from almost anyone) intended to entertain. Sure, some might say the standards were low; but, the objective was to taste a little of everything – sport, music, art – each got its turn. Perhaps it is because of the many choices, but we seem to be increasingly becoming specialists. A football fan refuses to see a drama. And, a symphony enthusiast misses the joy at Indy Eleven. Wouldn’t it be better if we pushed our boundaries? While it’s good to have favorites, a single food diet can’t be healthy.