Thursday, December 17, 2009

An ode to Mrs. Brady

Everything I really need to know, I learned from 70’s and 80’s Television.

My childhood was one of solitude. I look back, and can say that honestly. Due to tragic circumstances, I was raised in a single parent home. My one parent was not emotionally equipped to raise a child - and my only sibling was several years older than I was. I spent most of my younger years entertaining myself – and watching TV. With a lack of guidance, I could have taken a turn for the worse, and become a ‘bad’ kid – in fact, in today’s world, I would probably either be drugged out, involved in porn (for a career, not just for enjoyment), or dead. This path however, is not the one I have taken. Due to my independence at such an early age – I have become a completely self-sufficient and extremely independent person. I believe that I owe a lot of my character to TV shows from the 70’s and 80’s.

In those days, schools did not care about your socialization skills, or if you were a ‘high risk’ child. If you were an average student, and went to a fairly large sized school, as I did, you could get by being practically invisible. If you think about it, before the horrors that occurred at Columbine, schools did not have the know-how to help kids with their emotional struggles. Math, Science, English – good. Self Esteem, Emotional support, Confidence Building – Whu? Not the schools problem – you can’t grade Self-Esteem. Nowadays, the school Social Worker is out in the open, involved in activities, available to any student in need. Back then, I don’t even know if the school had a Social Worker.

I remember one time, going to see my guidance counselor, because a girl had stolen my purse, which, at age 14, was chock full of sentimental little treasures. A few weeks later, the sister of the thief was walking around the school, carrying my purse. The guidance counselor brought the two of us in the room, and she said she did not know it was mine, and she would give it back. Which she did, a few days later – empty of course, with a broken closure. The thief did not even get a slap on the wrist.
 THE GIRL STOLE FROM ME! When I think back to how poorly that was handled, it makes me crazy. But that is another story..

So, back to my character development and television. For a latch-key kid, as I was, coming home to an empty house meant hours of television watching. There was always the boob-tube. My babysitter, my companion, my encyclopedia, my mentor. Decades before anyone had ever heard of Google, we went to the television for answers to our questions.

There was The Brady Bunch, which I proudly admit, I watched over and over again, even when it was an unwritten law that nobody was permitted to watch such an incredibly uncool show. There was Mrs. Brady – square dancing with me in the living room and making my costume for the school play. Alice – giving me a special locket, when I felt like no one was interested in my struggles being the middle child. And Mr. Brady – carrying me when I fell in the water on our camping trip, and looking so groovy in his colorful leisure suits.

Little House on the Prairie had me crying when my horse, Bunny died, laughing at Nellie and her crazy mother, and feeling loved, as Ma and Pa embraced me and cried because they loved me so much.

There was Happy Days, the coolest show to watch – and its spinoff, Laverne and Shirley. Both, a bit risqué for a young child to watch – but like a taboo, I was drawn to it, for its coolness. I relished the power the next day on the bus, when I got to rehash every single moment. Fonzie and I danced the dance marathon. Potsie sang to me and I sent him love notes calling him ‘Dren’ (nerd spelled backwards). I worked at Shotz and drank Milk and Pepsi, and Chachi – well he was just too hot for words.
Three’s Company had me hanging out at the Regal Beagle, putting half my hair in pony tails, and wishing I had a roommate to share my room with. I struggled to come up with the rent money, and waited patiently for Mr. Roper to fix my window.

As I got a little older, and more mature, The Facts of Life had me going out on my first date, experiencing my first kiss, and suffering the backlash when I would not let my boyfriend go all the way in the back of his van.

I enjoyed many vacations aboard the Love Boat. Puerto Vallarta is lovely, and you can never have too many Horse Piñatas. I always left, knowing that I would be back, and life would be that much sweeter because my friends, Julie, Doc, Gopher, Isaac and the Captain would be able to solve all of my problems.

I hosted Saturday Night Live, played Match Game, and won the Stanley Cup, all from my couch in the den with the orange and brown paneling. I know that it is not the most ideal childhood. However, I did get the understanding that Drugs are bad, you should not steal, girls who go all the way are easy, and you should always tell the truth. I also learned that there are people who love and care about each other . TV gave me a sense of security – I could turn on the TV, and magically, there were people there who I could depend on to be there (unless they got cancelled – but they came back, through the power of syndication). I could disappear into someone else’s life. I could be pretty, I could be popular, I could be funny, I could be mean, I could be loved.

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