Monday, December 29, 2008

Cautionary Tale

[Note: I am moderately to seriously opposed to the practice of summing up the holidays with, "so, what did you get?" It just seems a little... commercial somehow. I am at least somewhat of a hypocrite though as just a day or two ago I was more than delighted to get an update on holiday loot of a friend of the Children which allowed me to say, "really? A tattoo? And it's oozing??" Still, it's a bit of a moral stand which I am about to totally violate with not one, but two posts on What I Got This Year. Apologies all around and a massive slice of humble pie for me. Lucky it's so tasty.]

I am about to date myself.

I was alive when the final episode of M*A*S*H aired. Granted, the fact that I have a Child who graduated last year might have twigged off a few of you, but still, for the mathematically challenged among you here is one more hint that I am Old.

So, you would think that I would have been one of the billions (or so) of Americans who tuned in that night. After all, my father was a regular M*A*S*H watcher, even though my mother tended to make pointed comments about the fact that there was reference to, well, [sex] now and then and the characters did, from time to time, imbibe what appeared to be something other than grape knee-hi's. I knew M*A*S*H from the days when Klinger wore haute couture and Hawkeye still shared the tent with Trapper. For years I honestly thought that Korea looked just like Malibu, California. I loved M*A*S*H, I was raised on M*A*S*H, it was practically the only television show I was allowed to almost, maybe a little, sort of accidentally watch [note, this excludes the clandestine television watching my sister and I did whenever my parents were out of the house, a practice which involved lightning reflexes for turning down the sound {no remote} when the phone rang, and an uncanny ability to recognize the difference between tires on our driveway and those on either neighbors's]. So naturally I expected to be allowed to watch the final show, the last hurrah, the ultimate piece of M*A*S*H history.


My mother insisted that, honestly now, this was the last M*A*S*H. It would be shown over and over again. There were going to be endless chances to watch it. No big deal. Yup, I was not allowed to see it. The last M*A*S*H of all and I was doing something so vital I can't even remember what it was. 107 million people tuned in, but not me. The most watched episode in television history (still!) and I missed it.

And the thing is? I never did see that episode. All that guff about it being shown again and again and while I've managed to catch re-runs of shows I never wanted to watch in the first place the last M*A*S*H remains unseen. Which, naturally I shared with the Children recently since we were, when possible, catching out-of-order episodes now and then on whatever obscure channel is broadcasting them [note: The Children, being well raised, show the proper appreciation for M*A*S*H. This demonstrates their superior genes and their talent for enormous tact]. It is, after all, the duty of the parent to tell the younger generation of the trials we faced growing up. The Children were suitable impressed with my suffering.

Which is why there was a certain amount of suppressed excitement when it came to present-opening time on Christmas morning. Normally I can orchestrate things as I see fit but there was a perceptible tension going on and finally I was told in no uncertain terms that I Must Open Child 1's Present To Me Now.


It had done it.

It had bought the whole thing, the complete set, the entire and total and absolute M*A*S*H collection. All of it. Including the final episode.

So on Christmas day when we were down at my parent's house I happened to mention this, probably because it gave me the opportunity to point out the Terrible Injustice of not being allowed to watch the final episode. In particular I tasked my mother with the fact that fate had not allowed me, in all this time, to ever, ever know how it all ended. To which she instantly responded with, "yes, but did you consider that it might not have ended happily?" And when I sort of gaped at her (and maybe mentioned that I was slightly more than six years old at the time), she continued, "and at that time you were drawing nothing but terribly, terribly sad clowns."

It's true. I was.

They were very, VERY sad clowns. All very much alike. With one enormous eye (heavily lashed) and a single tear just gathered at the edge. Of course, there was only one eye because I thought that guide lines and rulers were CHEATING and that real artists wouldn't use them but I couldn't manage to draw two eyes the same size. So the clowns tended to have dramatic hair sort of pasted down over the other eye area. Also there was, if I remember a tiny, tiny little mouth and maybe a couple of nostrils. Anyway, it was all very dramatic and I drew it over and over. Mostly because I wasn't actually all that good at drawing (which is why I do graphic design now) and this was one thing I had figured out. Apparently my mother felt this was Significant.

That's right, my teen rebellion consisted of drawing depressed circus performers and listening to U2 and Depeche Mode in my room. With the volume down though because my father didn't like modern music. I would sometimes sing the lyrics to Blasphemous Rumors though. But I'd feel guilty afterwords.

So, to all you Emo teens out there, just make sure you communicate with your loving and long-suffering family about how you're really just being dramatic and stuff or twenty years from now you'll be trying to impress your friends and family with how you suffered by missing out on some major cultural moment due to your perceived emotional fragility, and frankly it's hard to get respect that way.

Now excuse me, I have ten more seasons to get through before I finally get to see how it all ends.


Anonymous said...

dude. it ends with a chicken.

child 2 said...'ve already gone through season one...WITHOUT ME?! WAAAAAA!

totally clueless said...

I'm embarrassed.

I did in fact see the final episode of M*A*S*H* but I have to admit that during the many years that have lapsed since said episode aired I had absolutely no idea it was in any way culturally significant that I saw it.

emily said...

also embarrassed here, since have never seen m*a*s*h....

But approval for the gift - that is my idea of a perfect present - one where actual thought and effort has gone into it!

Hope you were just as nice to the children! :)

awesmom said...

I watched M*A*S*H as a child too. My stepmom loved it and had the theme song on some album. I'm very good at singing "Suicide is Painless." One day (recently) my husband caught me singing it (!) and shared that he thought it was a weird song for my parents to let me listen to.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area the cable went out for almost 15 minutes during the final episode. Then we saw the end.

Ezekiel said...

I never managed to see much of M*A*S*H... I should seek it out.

I felt though, that I should tell you I was listening to Depeche Mode while I was browsing [Question of Trust on Black Celebration]. They've been my favourite band since I was eight-years-old.

Personal Jesus was the one to make me feel guilty, because taking the lord's name in vain was bad.

Child 1 said...

I was so excited for Christmas not for the getting(ok some) but for the giving and was really nervous when wistful conversations of buying M*A*S*H* were brought up. Now I have nothing to follow up on that for birthdays!!

child not 1 said...

yeah...nice going child 1, i mean how do we top that?!

emily said...

awww, sibling rivalry :)

Megan said...

Wheels - now I'm intrigued!

Child 2 - nah, I just can't count. We made it through DISK 1... now we're watching disk 2, right this minute, together, and now, I'm sticking out my tongue at you. Lovingly.

totally - I think it was only culturally significant if you didn't see it. It's rather like being the only kid who didn't get to watch that end-of-the-world tv movie about how the nuclear war happened and all the teens saved the day. Or not getting to actually see even one Molly Ringwald film in a theater - not one... sigh.

emily - oh I was, I was! Although I might have needed to think things through before I gave the Male Child a special effects pedal for its electric guitar... one that makes the guitar louder... and wa-wa'er...

awesmom - that's almost more tragic than my story! At least you saw the very, very last though. You tell me what 15 minutes you missed and I'll let you know what happens.

Ezekiel - Ah yes, another guilt inducing favorite. I also remember singing along to Lie to Me at school once and scandalizing a friend who hadn't realized I had hidden depths of irony. You'll be happy to know I've forced the poor Children to become Depeche Mode fans whether they want to be or not - every last one of them could lisp out Barrel of a Gun by age 4. It's a parenting success story.

Child 1 - aren't you glad I'm so utterly and totally cheap? And lazy? It's a beautiful combination.

Child not 1 - you could clean the garage... you know... just a thought...

emily - you have NO IDEA.

Bagpiper said...

I have never srrn or heard of M*A*S*H*, but I'm assuming it's another sci-fi?


Megan said...

You. are. kidding. You are, right? No really, you are absolutely kidding about that.

But, because there's the smallest, wee-est chance you're not:

M*A*S*H - 11 year running sit-com set during the Korean War, following the adventures of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital and starring, most notably, Alan Alda.

But... you were kidding...

... right?