Change: Why the cancellation of Guiding Light is just a symptom

I’ve always hated change.  When I was a kid, I would refuse to eat anything but chicken sandwiches and chocolate milk for lunch.  Cinnamon toast and hot cocoa was my breakfast, when I ate it.  Hot roast beef sandwiches for dinner.  I didn’t need any more than that, my best friend, and my bike.  Life was simple.  Life was good.

I changed, though I fought that change.  I got taller, older, hopefully smarter.  I grew up.  Given a choice, I’d still eat those simple foods every day.  Given a choice, I’d also still be 100 pounds dripping wet.  But I wasn’t asked about either of those thing, nor the other thousand changes that occurred in my life in the meantime.

When I first moved to Florida, there were still two water fountains in every park…one for the whites and one for the “coloreds” as my parents and the other adults on hand called the African Americans.  Of course, now we have the term “African Americans” and a single water fountain.  That’s progress and it’s a good thing.  A lot of change isn’t a good thing.

When I was a kid, my parents smoked everywhere.  They had ashtrays everywhere.  You could smoke in the theater, in line at the grocery store, even in the damned hospital.  It was awesome.  Nobody looked at me like I was walking around with a second head.  Nobody complained.  It was cheap and easy to smoke.  It was really easy to steal cigarettes from your folks and start your lifetime habit.  It’s not so easy to quit.  I’m not sure I want to.

At the age of 9, my mom was home during most days.  She had a huge soap opera addiction and I think she watched a dozen a day.  I watched Guiding Light with her.  I watched it with my grandmother.  Later, as an adult, I watched it with my best friend, Sarah.  And now, I watch it with my kids…until the final episode on September 18th, that is.  Through my entire life, Guiding Light was there…live, taped on my first VCR, recorded on my DVR.  Every afternoon, it’s my kids, the home work, and Guiding Light.  In two years, my kids will be in college.  Mom and Grandma are long dead and my best friend long gone.  I was kind of looking forward to growing old with the cast of Guiding Light, even having the time to watch it live.  Not so much.

Ratings have declined in recent years.  Costs have gone up.  You see, back in the day, women stayed home and took care of their kids, cleaned the waxy build-up off the floors, and watched soap operas.  Then, along came the ERA, the sexual revolution…suddenly, women are supposed to get jobs and stand up for themselves.  They’re supposed to have MORE in their lives than children and floor wax and soap operas.  Great.  Now, we can go to war, we can die with the best of them, we can work our asses off for a piss-poor salary.  Progress.  Wonderful.  But what if ALL you want in life is those kids, that wax, and Guiding Light?

Screwed.

Nobody asked me.  Nobody ever said, “Hey, Trish!  Do you want to be equal?  Do you want to blow up small villages and kill men, women and children in a foreign country?  Do you WANT to sit on the group W bench and get the hairy eyeball from some father-raper?”  If they’d asked, I’d have said, “No, thank you.  I’ll just keep sitting here watching Guiding Light and crocheting booties forever.  Thanks.”

I don’t want to be equal at all.  I like the fact that I can put up wallpaper and apply boo-boo stickers better than my man.  I like the fact that he can lift heavier things than I can.  It’s natural.  It’s normal.  I see no reason to change it.  We have our roles.  We like them.  Why change it?

When I was 18 and struggling with the death of my mother, I made up a list of reasons to stay alive.

1. Star Trek

2. Guiding Light

3. Horseback riding

4. Chocolate

5. Sailing

Years later, I added:

6. My kids

7. To outlive the people I hate

Many years later, I have no horse nor a sailboat.  There is no Star Trek series currently on TV.  All but two of the people I hate are already dead.  And now Guiding Light has been cancelled.  So, all I have left is my kids and chocolate.  Wait!  I have high cholesterol and I’m not supposed to eat chocolate.  Okay, I have my kids.  I love them more than I can express on these pale pages.  The thought of their faces kept me alive in a far-away ICU when even the doctors thought I’d never walk out of the hospital again.  It’s enough.

Forty years after I watched that first episode of Guiding Light finds the world a very different place.  We must add several words to George Carlin’s list of words you can never say on TV.  Hell, poor George Carlin is gone.  You can’t smoke anywhere anymore and if you do, you have to count those ciggies carefully because they cost MORE THAN CRACK!  Get it?  MORE THAN CRACK OR POT OR COKE!  Shit!  Star Trek has left TV, Gene Roddenberry is gone and Guiding Light has been cancelled.  We have our first African American president.  We’ve seen two planes crash into the Twin Towers.  The economy is in the crapper.  All but one of my kids is almost grown.  Women are now liberated enough to fight in wars, die from heart attacks, and spend more time with their boss than their kids.  Hell, those kids can now be tried as adults when they’re as young as six years old.

Change sucks.

If I could invent a time machine, I’d go right back to the sixties.  I’d sit down in that big avocado green naugahyde recliner, light up a stogie, click on Guiding Light, and have a nice box of bon bons while I watch Bert Bauer and Mike Bauer argue over Ed’s affair with Leslie.  Then I’d spend my afternoon cleaning the waxy buildup off the terazzo floor in the kitchen, and serve up a nice lunch of chicken sandwiches and chocolate milk.  Primetime still featured the original Star Trek, in all it’s pre-CGI glory.  Before bed, there would be Walter Cronkite reporting on the Viet Nam war.  A good dose of body count helps with the sleep, dontcha know.  Carson would still be on the Tonight Show, though I don’t think he was as funny as Leno is.

Life was simpler then.  It was better.  Everybody knew where they stood, what their roles were.  Kids weren’t sleeping with their teachers and they weren’t out shooting people.  Parents paid attention.  Parents were home.  Both parents.  And they cared.  Moms had soap opera-based dreams instead of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  And Dads could still work on the family car.  People carried Zippos instead of Blackberries.

Progress is fucked up.  It’s working in reverse.  It is not our friend.

We need to change change.

More later.  I’m going to watch a Star Trek re-run and smoke a few.

There is no wax on my kitchen floor.

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One Response to “Change: Why the cancellation of Guiding Light is just a symptom”

  1. Soap Recipes Says:

    i am a fan! rss added subscribed to.

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