Feeling really, really old

David Burchett

So I am sitting in my home Wednesday morning minding my own business, reading the Dallas Morning News, and I get clotheslined by a small note in the GuideLive section. There it is at the top of page 5G…

Birthdays….Barbara Eden, 72.

Are you kidding me? Jeannie is 72? How old do I feel today! I was twelve when I Dream of Jeannie appeared in stunning black and white on our Sylvania TV. I don’t like to brag but our television featured the “halo light” innovation. The halo light was a fluorescent light which surrounded the picture tube in order to provide, well, I have no idea why it was there but we had one and no one else on our block did! A little research time did reveal the answer to the mystery of the halo light. The website  gave me my answer.

TV lamps originated from a perceived need to diffuse the contrast between the brightness of the television screen and the comparative darkness of the surrounding environment. Concerns of permanent eye damage were taken quite seriously, and industry stepped up to tackle this modern problem. The solution would come in the form of ambient (surrounding) light, heralded as the savior of eyes everywhere. And so it went, as the 1950s saw the advent of the Sylvania Halo Light television. This nifty bit of ingenuity consisted of a fluorescent bulb that cast a "halo" of light around the screen, surrounding the picture with ambient light. Sounding somehow familiar, this technology was called "Surround Lighting". The Halo Light ads, usually featuring a lovely lass in a golden dress, made it clear that this new discovery was a must-have: "You'll see the difference instantly! Pictures framed in exciting HALOLIGHT appear larger, sharper and clearer!"


So the Halolight was the TV version of parental obsession with eyesight in the 60’s. That was why Ralphie couldn’t have a Red Ryder BB Gun in A Christmas Story.  The dreaded parental trump card of “you’ll put your eye out” haunted the hero of that Christmas classic. I am not sure that the Halolight delivered on it’s promises to save our vision but I do remember sitting in the mysterious aura of it’s fluorescent glow watching Barbara Eden as Jeannie. The show debuted in 1965 with astronaut Tony Nelson’s (played by Larry Hagman) one man space capsule landing on a deserted island. There he finds the genie bottle (which was actually a 1964 Jim Beam whiskey decanter) and out comes Jeannie after being imprisoned in that whiskey bottle for years (sounds like a country song). The madcap hijinks (officially endorsed entertainment descriptive words) continued for five seasons.

    Courtesy of

I felt nostalgic and very, very old when I read that Barbara Eden is 72. I felt even older when one website described her as a “retrobabe”. I had an adolescent crush for this “retrobabe” in 1965. I also remember that the show was controversial in the mid-60’s because of Jeannie’s costume. The original costume showed a glimpse of her navel and that caused an uproar among parents. Apparently it was okay for a single woman to wear a harem suit and live with a single man but it wasn’t okay to show her navel. Ahhh yes…the confused mores of the sixties. But the thing I remember other than the harem costume was Jeannie’s subservient devotion to Major Nelson. She called him “master” and lived to do his every bidding. I used to dream…wouldn’t it be great to have a relationship like that?

Fast forward forty-one years and my answer is now a resounding no. How my views on relationships have changed. When I shifted from I Dream of Jeannie to I Dream of Joni my ideas about what love looks like changed. I did somehow marry a beautiful woman. But I thank God that Joni has not been a subservient wife who does my every bidding. She has loved me when I was unlovable. At times I am sure it was only faith and commitment from that fateful day in 1976 that allowed her to love me. Because of that commitment she loves me enough to challenge me. No one (other than Jesus) knows me better than Joni. And the fact that both of them still love me is a miracle of grace that astounds me even as I ponder it.

Like nearly every Christian couple in the 70’s we had 1 Corinthians 13 read at our wedding (we did pass on the Carpenter’s We’ve Only Just Begun). We did not, tragically, pass on the baby blue “Dumb and Dumber” tuxes that were popular then. But I embarrassingly digress. Most of us have heard and read the “love chapter” so many times that we are almost desensitized to the power of Paul’s words written to the church at Corinth. That church had, in today’s parlance, issues. One of their big issues was sexual immorality. So Paul was defining what Christian love looks like in relationship. Slow down, pour another cup of coffee (aka Chrisitan speed) and ponder each word.

     Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

    Love will last forever, but prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will all disappear. Now we know only a little, and even the gift of prophecy reveals little! But when the end comes, these special gifts will all disappear.

     It's like this: When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now.

     There are three things that will endure--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.  NLT

I love my bride more today than I did thirty years ago. When I was a child I dreamed of Jeannie. Now I am so thankful that I am slowly, agonizingly putting away childish things and learning how to really love my wife. Emphasis on slowly. Now I dream of spending many more years with Joni. That is not guaranteed. But I believe that I will have that privilege. I approach the rest of our years together with faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.