Monday, July 24, 2006

when pygmies roamed my television

There was a moment at work a couple of weeks ago when I brought up that house with secret passageways that Ma'am, George, and Webster went to live in after Webster burned down their apartment. The conversation had been about houses with secret passageways, and I thought it relevant to rummage through my damaged mind and surface with an otherwise useless television reference. Anyway, the infusion Webster garnered me only silence and confused stares. I think there were even tumbleweeds.
Nervously, I persisted.
"No one else remembers that?" I asked. "There were all these secret passageways and a room upstairs that the landlords strictly forbade Webster and the Papadopouloses--or Papadopouli, if you prefer--from entering."
Still silent. By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, I didn't actually use "forbade" in conversation.
"There was even a running gag in which Webster would move from floor to floor by using the dumbwaiter," I added.
They recalled there being a Webster, but none of them admitted to having watched it. Which is understandable, as I am younger than most of the folks I work with. White families adopting undersized black children was not a staple of their formative television watching years. No, they were bred on talking horses, the tomfoolery of redheads and their Cuban bandleaders, and a more demure Mary Tyler Moore who watched in feigned agony as her husband tripped over the same damn ottoman each and every week.
Let it be known that I also have nothing but love for these older programs and that they probably overflow more of my mental filing cabinets than time I spent with my grandparents or any number of assorted conversation topics. However, The Andy Griffith Show never taught me how to escape from the old pervert at the bike shop or deal with a newly diabetic Ben Vereen. Life is all about variety, people, and there is nothing wrong with admitting that you've probably seen every episode of Webster and Diff'rent Strokes multiple times.
Well, perhaps there is. I'm not quite so proud of myself now that I see the admission there on the screen, but there's nothing to be done about it now. Maybe I'll take the dog for an extra walk or feed an old person or do any number of the things that all those Mormon commercials told me to do.
But I digress.
My conversation at work presented a problem. Even my younger coworkers who admitted to having actually watched Webster from time to time didn't remember the house with the secret passageways, and I was left to wonder if I had imagined or hallucinated entire seasons of the program.
Enter the Internet. This site helped to verify that I still have a grasp on sanity. Also, it proves that someone else wasted a great deal of time in front of the television and then a great deal more in front of their computers documenting it, and that, for some reason, makes me feel not as bad.


Blogger ceeelcee said...

Leave it to Emmanuel Lewis to have the foresight to live in a house that had places in it where he could hide from Michael Jackson.

But his season of the Surreal Life was lame.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous shauna said...

I have this problem all the time. Worse yet is when I'm recalling shows like The Charmings and people think I'm totally making it up. I couldn't make that stuff up!

11:05 AM  
Blogger JD said...

Man, how could you not remember the secret passages? Didn't he get locked in one once and Ma'am had to save him?

And "What you talking' bout, Mrs. Reagan?"??? Do you see any TV show pulling off an appearance by the first lady today? I think not. Diff'rent Strokes = Classic TV.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

Sadly, I doubt that any Manny Lewis reality TV vehicle could really live up to expectations, CLC.

I remember The Charmings but did not watch them, Shauna. However, that reference released a flood of similiar ABC shows that only lasted a season or two. Wow.

There are those who walk among us with only a shallow recollection of Webster and Arnold, JD, and they are empty inside.

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Joseph William Perry said...

How come you didn't write a recap for that web site?
Is it because you didn't want to sign up as a member of
I didn't sign up either.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous shauna said...

I forgot to mention that Emmanuel Lewis supposedly lived near where I grew up. Everyone knew someone who had seen him somewhere. A photograph of him at the crappy skating rink was the only "evidence" of this I ever saw.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Joe Powell said...

i experience similar moments when referencing TV history/cultural icons.

seems to defy those critics who claim we are all empty-headed morons devolved by television.

i say if you have limited TV memory, you are not American.


8:09 AM  
Blogger Tommy said...

When I finally get around to building my own house, it's gonna have a secret passage with a door behind a grandfather clock.

I tell people this, and they don't start giving me weird looks until I say I was inspired so by Webster.

8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone knows that Webster was the poor man's Arnold Jackson, just like Larry Flowers is the poor man's Darian Trotter.

4:30 PM  

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