So here we are.
No one needs to hear my two cents on the recent cancellations of All My Children and One Life To Live because the air is already so thick with opinion (or vocalized apathy) that you can slice up the atmosphere like an Easter ham.
Of course, if life in America has taught us anything, it’s that you may not need Pajama Jeans, but here they are nonetheless.
Seeing as I’m part of the problem in that I am classified as a “severely casual-to-non” soap watcher, I have no reason to comment on these goings-on, nor will I bemoan the future of series production in New York or the Daytime Emmys, and I certainly won’t discuss the replacement shows (a chat-fest/feast about cooking and eating, followed immediately by a program focused on weight loss that will no doubt tell me that I can’t eat the food I just saw... thanks, TV!).
Instead, I’m going to muse about my middle school summers.
Three hot, humid summers, with the tinny crackle of early 80s music blasting out of a cheap radio, competing with the noise of an ineffective Murphy Mart box fan humming in the window. They were summers free of distractions or the future pressure of part-time jobs and resume-building. They were not filled with vacations and swimming pools. They were filled with uneven tans, what-is-he-doing-now dreams of schoolboy crushes, V.C. Andrews books, and the restless boredom one can only feel when one just wants to go somewhere else.
There were really only two things to look forward to each day: the Chuck’s Ice Cream truck blaring its horn, and turning the dial to Channel 4 at 1 PM. The former involved a frustrating ritual of digging for loose change and the inevitable disappointment of pennies. The latter was blissfully free of charge and often made me forget that I wished I had a fudge bar, because there was so much to devour in Pine Valley.
Indeed, there were some tasty exploits to be had, thanks to Tad the Cad simultaneously carrying on with Liza Colby and her mother Marion. Even for a goody two-shoes such as my tween-before-it-was-called-tween self, it was fantastic fun to witness such pure unapologetic lust, available nowhere else in a suburban home without cable. (Except maybe those V.C. Andrews books.)
It was there, in front of the crappiest picture an image orthicon tube ever put forth, that I learned what empathy was as me and my little sister shed tears for Jenny Gardner’s tragic death. Sure, we knew Kim Delaney’s contract was up, but somehow we thought that if we wished hard enough, she wouldn’t get on that jet ski that Tony had sabotaged. Clapping had worked for Tinkerbell, after all.
But when the jet ski exploded, as we knew deep down that it would, we burst into sobs. We’d been heavily invested in the Greg and Jenny storyline, that of two kids from opposite sides of the tracks whose love was tested time and time again by a staff of writers who I swore were just toying with my emotions. Greg and Jenny just had to make it, I’d thought. Because if they couldn’t make it, then how could I ever believe in love? How could I expect to find my soulmate if all these ludicrous things like paralysis and love letters gone undelivered and spite-fueled seduction kept getting in the way?
Love never lasted long in Pine Valley and I should have learned not to root for a couple to make it. I kept falling for it though, time after time. Like so many soap characters, I had recurring amnesia. I was convinced that Erica would finally settle down with Mike Roy. I had such hopes for Palmer and Daisy, and Brooke and Mark. And even when Jesse and Angie overcame so much utter ridiculousness, well, they eventually went and killed Jesse. (He was recently brought back to life by an even greater amount of utter ridiculousness, far too late for me.) It was inevitable that when two souls were joined together, someone or something would put them asunder.
Those afternoons are longer and longer ago. The daydreams of my middle school summers pale in comparison to my current reality: I did find my soulmate, without drama or scriptwriters, and I can go buy a fudge bar whenever I want nowadays, without emptying the piggy bank.
Goodness knows I don’t want those summers back. They were miserably hot. But they are vivid.
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.