Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

“Operator”

 

I heard a great song in my car yesterday – “Operator,” a 1972 folk/love song by Jim Croce. It’s a simple, beautiful song about a man’s effort to recover from a breakup with his girlfriend. What makes it so wonderful is that everyone can identify with the message. Everyone. Right? But then I started to wonder what someone would think of that song if they were under, say, 40 years old.

First of all, they would wonder, what the heck is a pay phone? Why would you need a dime to make a phone call? What is an operator? And why would you need the assistance of that person (or anyone else) to make a phone call? Ever heard of speed dial? Heck, just tell your phone to make the call and it does it on its own, right? And then, he can’t read the number on the matchbook because it’s old and faded. OK, so what is a matchbook, why would you be carrying one around, and why would you use that as a filing system for contacts? Many young people have forgotten the time when basically everybody smoked. Restaurants had complimentary matchbooks and ashtrays at the tables. And before cell phones, a matchbook might be the most convenient way to jot down a quick note, like a phone number. Lots of important information was written in matchbooks in those days. But there is something else in that song that I think many young people today would have difficulty identifying with:

The sense of longing. The pain of separation. Today, the guy in the song would be on his ex-girlfriend’s Snapchat and Instagram and he would rarely go more than a few hours without a running commentary of her current activities, in real time, complete with photographs. They would be texting, and maybe even FaceTiming and so on. It’s hard to miss someone when they don’t really leave.

I have three teenage daughters. They get nervous if their boyfriend doesn’t return a text within a certain amount of time. I’ll say, “Relax – he’s probably busy.” She’ll respond, “He posted on his Instagram 18 minutes ago. He’s on his phone, but he’s not responding to me. Something’s wrong.”

I can’t imagine dating in this environment. If one of us was busy, I would go days or weeks without seeing my girlfriend. And that was probably good. It gave us both a break. And a chance to think about things. No male can think with a pretty girl nearby.

Now, the availability and expectations of perpetual contact have had a profound impact on courting. I think it adds a lot of pressure, especially for the boyfriends. Lord help them.

Missing out on that sense of longing, to me, is really too bad. I think that how you handle being apart is a good indicator of how you’re likely to do together. But I sometimes think that it’s more than the sense of longing that today’s youth don’t fully understand.

I’m not convinced that they really understand love. Actual, true love. I suspect that some young people now would hear “Operator” and think to themselves, “What the heck? Has that dude never heard of Tinder?”

As the left has spent the last several decades successfully attacking traditional family structure and the role of men and women in that structure, they have also been promoting free love. Once the pill came out, and we dispensed with most of the restrictive religious and ethical limitations on sex, then relationships became more about sex than they are about the search for a lifetime soulmate.

In my view, the women’s liberation movement was really the men’s liberation movement. No more rules. If it feels good at the time, do it. Why not? If a woman won’t have sex with you, she’s not being sensible or selective, she’s just being a prude. Go find someone who will make you feel good. Because that’s what it’s all about. So girls start competing with one another not with beauty or personality, but simply with willingness to perform sexual favors for nearly anyone. This race to the bottom diminishes everyone involved.

Our obsession with sexual pleasure has led to neglect of other, more important things. Like love. Devotion. Longing. Sacrifice. All the things that make life truly beautiful.

All the things that make life truly beautiful. 

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when you watch movies, love stories rarely involve pornography, and pornography rarely involves love. We can see that in the dating scene now. Love can be difficult and painful, so it’s better to just stick with casual sex. That, at least, is fun. Less potential for emotional complications. And if it doesn’t work out, you haven’t really lost anything.

Of course, that also means that you really didn’t have anything to begin with. But, whatever.

So how does this end? We don’t know. It may be generations before we see the end result of our loss of interest in love. But I find it terrifying. One reason that human societies tend to be so violent is that, in my view, hate is a stronger emotion than love. This is especially true if we diminish the role of love in our lives. One might expect such a society to become more hateful, bitterly divided, and violent. So our disinterest in love is scary.

And sad. I miss beauty. The beauty of real, true love. Love – real, true love – is beautiful. It’s meaningful and real.

I only wish my words could just convince myself that it just wasn’t real.

But that’s not the way it feels.

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 109 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  1. Member

    Jim Croce, much, much, much too short a life. How sad it was when I heard of his death. He had just started. And it was such great music. Everyday life. Everyday life has changed. But nobody writes songs like that about it.

    • #1
    • December 6, 2018 at 2:57 pm
    • 23 likes
  2. Member

    Dr. Bastiat: But then I started to wonder what someone would think of that song if they were under, say, 40 years old.

    Probably closer to 30. To pick out one example there was a Seinfeld episode where the plot revolved around Jerry’s position on speed dial. Still on the north side of 30, unless they picked it up in reruns. Which were also a thing.

    • #2
    • December 6, 2018 at 3:02 pm
    • 4 likes
  3. Member

    Well, now I’m depressed.

    • #3
    • December 6, 2018 at 3:16 pm
    • 12 likes
  4. Member

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Jim Croce, much, much, much too short a life. How sad it was when I heard of his death. He had just started. And it was such great music. Everyday life. Everyday life has changed. But nobody writes songs like that about it.

    • #4
    • December 6, 2018 at 3:18 pm
    • 19 likes
  5. Member

    So I asked my 11-year-old daughter if she knew what a telephone operator was and she said, “Yes. I saw that on Little House on the Prairie. That’s how you made calls in the 1800’s”. I feel old.

    • #5
    • December 6, 2018 at 3:41 pm
    • 22 likes
  6. Member

    I’ve often thought it would be a blast to perform a medley of songs based on obsolete communication systems.

    And so many of the songs involve seeking a random AT&T employee to help with personal emotional distress.

    The Faces / Chuck Berry: Memphis, Tennessee

    Long distance information, give me Memphis, Tennessee
    Help me find the party trying to get in touch with me
    She could not leave her number, but I know who placed the call
    ‘Cause my uncle took the message and he wrote it on the wall

    Help me, information, get in touch with my Marie
    She’s the only one who’d phone me here from Memphis, Tennessee
    Her home is on the south side, high up on a ridge
    Just a half a mile from the Mississippi bridge

    Help me, information, more than that I cannot add
    Only that I miss her and all the fun we had
    But we were pulled apart because her mom did not agree
    And tore apart our happy home in Memphis, Tennessee

    Last time I saw Marie, she was waving me goodbye
    With hurry-home drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye
    Marie is only 6 years old, information, please
    Try to put me through to her in Memphis, Tennessee

    And the truly pathetic Sylvia’s Mother by Doctor Hook and the Medicine Show

    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s busy
    Too busy to come to the phone’
    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s tryin’
    To start a new life of her own’
    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s happy
    So why don’t you leave her alone?’

    And the operator says, ’40 cents more for the next 3 minutes’
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her
    I’ll only keep her a while
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell ‘er goodbye

    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s packin’
    She’s gonna be leavin’ today’
    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s marryin’
    A fella down Galveston way’
    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Please don’t say nothin’
    To make her start cryin’ and stay’

    And the operator says, ’40 cents more for the next 3 minutes’
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her
    I’ll only keep her a while
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell ‘er goodbye

    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s hurryin’
    She’s catchin’ the nine o’clock train’
    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Take your umbrella
    Cause Sylvie, it’s startin’ to rain’
    And Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Thank you for callin’
    And, sir, won’t you call back again?’

    And the operator says, ’40 cents more for the next 3 minutes’
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her
    I’ll only keep her a while
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell ‘er goodbye

    Tell her goodbye

    Please
    Tell her goodbye

    • #6
    • December 6, 2018 at 3:43 pm
    • 16 likes
  7. Thatcher

    Dr. Bastiat: Many young people have forgotten the time when basically everybody smoked. Restaurants had complimentary matchbooks and ashtrays at the tables. And before cell phones, a matchbook might be the most convenient way to jot down a quick note, like a phone number. Lots of important information was written in matchbooks in those days.

    Cigarette machines! Smoking on AIRPLANES! Yeah I know we are healthier now i suppose but those days make me nastolgic. It was a more innocent time……

    • #7
    • December 6, 2018 at 3:44 pm
    • 17 likes
  8. Member

    namlliT noD (View Comment):
    I’ve often thought it would be a blast to perform a medley of songs based on obsolete communication systems.

    Ann Beretta, Long Distance

    It’s a breakup message left on the girl’s answering machine.

    “And I’d tell you face-to-face if I could look you in the eye
    So I just called to say goodbye”.

    • #8
    • December 6, 2018 at 3:48 pm
    • 2 likes
  9. Inactive
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    namlliT noD (View Comment):
    I’ve often thought it would be a blast to perform a medley of songs based on obsolete communication systems.

    Sometimes, I really love Ricochet…

    • #9
    • December 6, 2018 at 3:48 pm
    • 18 likes
  10. Member

    Dr. Bastiat: I heard a great song in my car yesterday – “Operator,” a 1972 folk/love song by Jim Croce. It’s a simple, beautiful song about a man’s effort to recover from a breakup with his girlfriend. What makes it so wonderful is that everyone can identify with the message. Everyone. Right? But then I started to wonder what someone would think of that song if they were under, say, 40 years old.

    Very true.

    So the challenge is to write a simple beautiful song lyric, but updating the references a little bit. But that’s actually pretty difficult…

    Dr. Bastiat: I have three teenage daughters. They get nervous if their boyfriend doesn’t return a text within a certain amount of time. I’ll say, “Relax – he’s probably busy.” She’ll respond, “He posted on his Instagram 18 minutes ago. He’s on his phone, but he’s not responding to me. Something’s wrong.”

    Woah, hold on, I think you’ve got something there! Let’s work with that.

    • #10
    • December 6, 2018 at 4:08 pm
    • 4 likes
  11. Member

    Well now I can’t get the song out of my head so thanks a lot.

    • #11
    • December 6, 2018 at 4:09 pm
    • 14 likes
  12. Coolidge

    ‘No male can think with a pretty girl nearby’ 

    Thus my objection to women in combat or on Naval vessels , it has nothing to do with the women’s capability, it’s that men can’t think straight’ it’s biology . 

    • #12
    • December 6, 2018 at 4:20 pm
    • 20 likes
  13. Moderator

    Dr. Bastiat: We can see that in the dating scene now. Love can be difficult and painful, so it’s better to just stick with casual sex. That, at least, is fun. Less potential for emotional complications. And if it doesn’t work out, you haven’t really lost anything.

    This happens less among the young than you might think. For example.

    Mark Regnerus, a go-to for conservatives looking on statistics about sexual activity among today’s young, has documented that most premarital sex isn’t casual, but instead is a sign that a “relationship” is “getting serious”. Indeed, one reason why red-tribe youth lose their virginity earlier than blue-tribe youth is because red-tribe youth begin searching for a mate earlier.

    Hookup culture does exist, but it’s something that, if I recall correctly from Regnerus’s research (and my memory isn’t the best, so I recommend reading what Regnerus writes, not my summary of him) about 15% of college youth actually participate in — not a negligible number by any means, but whenever “everybody’s doing it” chances are good that fewer people than you think are actually doing it.

    • #13
    • December 6, 2018 at 4:28 pm
    • 8 likes
  14. Member

    I go for drives with my daughters on the coast and they let me play some of my music. Jim Croce is a firm favourite and they love Operator, Time in a Bottle and especially I’ll Have to Say I Love You ..(on Instagram???)

    • #14
    • December 6, 2018 at 4:51 pm
    • 7 likes
  15. Member

    namlliT noD (View Comment):
    I’ve often thought it would be a blast to perform a medley of songs based on obsolete communication systems.

    Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, “Long Distance”

     

    • #15
    • December 6, 2018 at 4:53 pm
    • 2 likes
  16. Member

    There’s this lovely old one, also involving a dime:

    https://youtu.be/CA4CInDnTk8

    • #16
    • December 6, 2018 at 5:10 pm
    • 1 like
  17. Coolidge

    Dr. Bastiat: No male can think with a pretty girl nearby.

    Ain’t that the truth!

     

    Dr. Bastiat: So how does this end? We don’t know. It may be generations before we see the end result of our loss of interest in love.

    Yes, this is pretty terrifying.

    Dr. Bastiat: So our disinterest in love is scary.

    Interest in “love” has been pretty low for most of human existence. It’s a fairly modern invention, and I’m not sure it exists except by exception. That is, most couples don’t have some ethereal love, they just get used to each other. I think there is an argument to be made that relationships that are focused on “love” rather than other values are historically unusual and prone to fail. Marriages based on economics or family power dynamics tend to be more stable, perhaps.

    • #17
    • December 6, 2018 at 5:18 pm
    • 4 likes
  18. Member

    Hello Central, Give Me Heaven, released in 1901, might be the very first telephone song:

    Papa I’m so sad and lonely,
    Sobbed a tearful little child
    Since dear mama’s gone to heaven
    Papa darling, you’ve not smiled
    I will speak to her and tell her
    That we want her to come home
    Just you listen and I’ll call her
    Through the telephone

    Hello Central give me heaven
    For my mama’s there
    You can find her with the angels
    on the golden stair
    She’ll be glad it’s me who’s speaking
    call her, won’t you please
    For I want to surely tell her
    We’re so lonely here

    When the girl received this message
    Coming o’er the telephone
    How her heart thrilled in that moment
    And the wires seemed to moan
    I will answer just to please her
    Yes, dear heart, I’ll soon come home
    Kiss me Mama, kiss your darling
    Kiss me through the telephone

     

    • #18
    • December 6, 2018 at 5:30 pm
    • 4 likes
  19. Member

    Get depressed and listen to The Replacements Answering Machine

    • #19
    • December 6, 2018 at 5:51 pm
    • 3 likes
  20. Member

    namlliT noD (View Comment):
    I’ve often thought it would be a blast to perform a medley of songs based on obsolete communication systems.

    I did something similar in my post Heartsignals …letters, telegraph, telephone, with email and texting added in the comments. The post was in 2010, so some of the links have gone bad.

    • #20
    • December 6, 2018 at 6:07 pm
    • 2 likes
  21. Inactive
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Well, now I’m depressed.

    You’re welcome. I’m here to help. 

    • #21
    • December 6, 2018 at 6:12 pm
    • 7 likes
  22. Member

    Dr. Bastiat: I miss beauty. The beauty of real, true love. Love – real, true love – is beautiful. It’s meaningful and real.

    Sonny, true love is the greatest thing in the world – except for a nice MLT – mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomatoes are ripe. They’re so perky, I love that.

    • #22
    • December 6, 2018 at 6:23 pm
    • 16 likes
  23. Member

    Another tragedy is that they don’t know that sound when the coin drops into the payphone container when the operator does keep the dime. 

    • #23
    • December 6, 2018 at 6:25 pm
    • 5 likes
  24. Thatcher

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    I’ve often thought it would be a blast to perform a medley of songs based on obsolete communication systems.

    And so many of the songs involve seeking a random AT&T employee to help with personal emotional distress.

    The Faces / Chuck Berry: Memphis, Tennessee

    Long distance information, give me Memphis, Tennessee
    Help me find the party trying to get in touch with me
    She could not leave her number, but I know who placed the call
    ‘Cause my uncle took the message and he wrote it on the wall

    Help me, information, get in touch with my Marie
    She’s the only one who’d phone me here from Memphis, Tennessee
    Her home is on the south side, high up on a ridge
    Just a half a mile from the Mississippi bridge

    Help me, information, more than that I cannot add
    Only that I miss her and all the fun we had
    But we were pulled apart because her mom did not agree
    And tore apart our happy home in Memphis, Tennessee

    Last time I saw Marie, she was waving me goodbye
    With hurry-home drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye
    Marie is only 6 years old, information, please
    Try to put me through to her in Memphis, Tennessee

    And the truly pathetic Sylvia’s Mother by Doctor Hook and the Medicine Show

    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s busy
    Too busy to come to the phone’
    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s tryin’
    To start a new life of her own’
    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s happy
    So why don’t you leave her alone?’

    And the operator says, ’40 cents more for the next 3 minutes’
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her
    I’ll only keep her a while
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell ‘er goodbye

    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s packin’
    She’s gonna be leavin’ today’
    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s marryin’
    A fella down Galveston way’
    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Please don’t say nothin’
    To make her start cryin’ and stay’

    And the operator says, ’40 cents more for the next 3 minutes’
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her
    I’ll only keep her a while
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell ‘er goodbye

    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s hurryin’
    She’s catchin’ the nine o’clock train’
    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Take your umbrella
    Cause Sylvie, it’s startin’ to rain’
    And Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Thank you for callin’
    And, sir, won’t you call back again?’

    And the operator says, ’40 cents more for the next 3 minutes’
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her
    I’ll only keep her a while
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell ‘er goodbye

    Tell her goodbye

    Please
    Tell her goodbye

    I LOVE Sylvia’s Mother.

    Who hurt you?

    • #24
    • December 6, 2018 at 6:38 pm
    • 3 likes
  25. Inactive
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    My 16 year old daughter just read this, and helpfully pointed out that I am full of crap.

    She explained that by listening to the loudest screams, I am simply giving voice to the most profound idiots. Old people have always felt that the young are impulsive, foolish, and disrespectful.

    So, from my kid’s perspective, this is all a bunch of garbage. 

    She, incidentally, is freaky brilliant. Mensa member, and probably smarter than me. Argue with her at your own peril. 

    I’ve given up. 

    • #25
    • December 6, 2018 at 6:43 pm
    • 12 likes
  26. Member

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    My 16 year old daughter just read this, and helpfully pointed out that I am full of crap.

    She explained that by listening to the loudest screams, I am simply giving voice to the most profound idiots. Old people have always felt that the young are impulsive, foolish, and disrespectful.

    So, from my kid’s perspective, this is all a bunch of garbage.

    She, incidentally, is freaky brilliant. Mensa member, and probably smarter than me. Argue with her at your own peril.

    I’ve given up.

    Wistful at 16 is a great name for a post-punk band. 

    • #26
    • December 6, 2018 at 6:50 pm
    • 4 likes
  27. Member

    blank generation member (View Comment):

    Wistful at 16 is a great name for a post-punk band.

    I wanted my musical nephew Philip to form a band called Phil ‘n the Blanks. But nobody listens to me.

    • #27
    • December 6, 2018 at 7:12 pm
    • 18 likes
  28. Member

    9thDistrictNeighbor (View Comment):

    Another tragedy is that they don’t know that sound when the coin drops into the payphone container when the operator does keep the dime.

    I once called home from a trip to the Adirondacks. Nobody answered so I hung up. The phone refunded all but a dime. I called the operator and she took my name and address. Two weeks later I got an envelope from the phone company. Inside was a small cardboard folder that contained a dime.

    • #28
    • December 6, 2018 at 8:02 pm
    • 16 likes
  29. Member

    And they’ll never know the sound of the operator saying, “Number plee-uzz.” or hear their parents say, “Sssh! I’m on Long Distance!”

    • #29
    • December 6, 2018 at 8:07 pm
    • 6 likes
  30. Member

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    I’ve often thought it would be a blast to perform a medley of songs based on obsolete communication systems.

    And so many of the songs involve seeking a random AT&T employee to help with personal emotional distress.

    The Faces / Chuck Berry: Memphis, Tennessee

    Long distance information, give me Memphis, Tennessee
    Help me find the party trying to get in touch with me
    She could not leave her number, but I know who placed the call
    ‘Cause my uncle took the message and he wrote it on the wall

    Help me, information, get in touch with my Marie
    She’s the only one who’d phone me here from Memphis, Tennessee
    Her home is on the south side, high up on a ridge
    Just a half a mile from the Mississippi bridge

    Help me, information, more than that I cannot add
    Only that I miss her and all the fun we had
    But we were pulled apart because her mom did not agree
    And tore apart our happy home in Memphis, Tennessee

    Last time I saw Marie, she was waving me goodbye
    With hurry-home drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye
    Marie is only 6 years old, information, please
    Try to put me through to her in Memphis, Tennessee

    And the truly pathetic Sylvia’s Mother by Doctor Hook and the Medicine Show

    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s busy
    Too busy to come to the phone’
    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s tryin’
    To start a new life of her own’
    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s happy
    So why don’t you leave her alone?’

    And the operator says, ’40 cents more for the next 3 minutes’
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her
    I’ll only keep her a while
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell ‘er goodbye

    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s packin’
    She’s gonna be leavin’ today’
    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s marryin’
    A fella down Galveston way’
    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Please don’t say nothin’
    To make her start cryin’ and stay’

    And the operator says, ’40 cents more for the next 3 minutes’
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her
    I’ll only keep her a while
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell ‘er goodbye

    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Sylvia’s hurryin’
    She’s catchin’ the nine o’clock train’
    Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Take your umbrella
    Cause Sylvie, it’s startin’ to rain’
    And Sylvia’s mother says, ‘Thank you for callin’
    And, sir, won’t you call back again?’

    And the operator says, ’40 cents more for the next 3 minutes’
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her
    I’ll only keep her a while
    Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell ‘er goodbye

    Tell her goodbye

    Please
    Tell her goodbye

    I LOVE Sylvia’s Mother.

    Who hurt you?

    My dear departed mother loved that song. But she would always say, he knows what train she’s taking – why doesn’t he go to the station?

    • #30
    • December 6, 2018 at 8:39 pm
    • 5 likes
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4