Sunday, August 15, 2010

Nostalgia in the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.

Summer insomnia will make a person seek out all sorts of media they may usually ignore. I've spent a lot of hours this summer listening to old records, actually watching things I own on DVD, and reading those books that have accumulated for "someday." Last night was no exception. A trip to Half Price Books was a winner yesterday, making me the proud owner of Seasons 1 and 2 of Facts of Life.

I loved this show when it originally aired, watching it all the way from the Molly Ringwald days to the Over Our Heads/George Clooney/Mackenzie Astin days. The girls were thin, not so thin, totally un-thin, back to not so thin. It wasn't a life-changing show, really. When compared to some of the brilliant teen shows that have existed since (ie Freaks and Geeks, My So Called Life, The OC, Skins, The In-Betweeners, The Wonder Years), it pales so as to almost be invisible. Oh, but it had its moments. Who can forget Blair trying to convince Tootie that a bong was designed to hold jelly beans, Tootie becoming a major sex symbol model at age 12 but refusing to "make love to the camera," embarrassment replaced by Blair's pride in Cousin Jerri who had MS, Jo shoplifting Mrs. Garrett a Hawaiian shirt for her birthday, Natalie being sexually assaulted while dressed as Charlie Chaplin (or was it Abbott and/or Costello?), or Blair losing all of her self-esteem when dating a verbally abusive boyfriend? Yes, life lessons were taught in a single half-hour episode (unless, of course, it was a "very special episode" that was done in more than one part, or the girls were on some sort of holiday and they had their own two hour special tv movie), and they usually had to be hammered in by Edna Garrett's extremely loud and screechy dulcet tones. Subtlety was not its strong suit. I was precisely the right age for Facts of Life. When it first started I was five, and while that was a tad young,(I remember an early episode about Sex Education where my mother made me turn it off) it did allow me to grow with the show. I still cared when it finally ended nine years later. (Well, kind of cared. I'd actually stopped watching it a few years before, but it was still on my radar.)

So, last night I watched a few of the very early episodes, saving my very favorite, "Dope," for last. It made me nostalgic as hell. It made me long for my youth, undoubtedly, but it also made me long for a friend that I've lost touch with. One of the dearest friends I ever had, Jeremy, and I used to LOOOOVE Facts of Life. We would pretend to be Edna and Blair, reciting the cheesiest of lines for entertainment. We loved it more in our late adolescence than we'd loved it at the time it was first on. We'd catch it in re-runs, and there were certain episodes that were just so good we remembered. It felt almost wrong to be watching the show without him beside me on the couch. His ghost was certainly present, though. Almost palpable. Life just sort of happens, and we lose touch with one another. One life goes in one direction, another goes someplace entirely different. I miss him, obviously. I don't really have a good way to reconnect with him, so I take a wistful "c'est la vie" attitude about my nostalgia. Edna didn't have to screech this one out to me, though. This one was a fact of life I learned all on my own.

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