Thursday, October 13, 2011

What October 8th-13th Means To Me: TV and Climbing Inside Appliances

I used to watch a shit ton of television.  In fact, before TiVo, I essentially had no life because there was appointment television nearly every night of the week.  Well, I still have no life, but it has nothing to do with my current television schedule.  But much of my childhood was spent in front of the television, in fact, many of my post-school afternoon/evening memories revolve around what was on TV, and all the shows were old 80's sitcoms that took odd chances in the name of being either socially relevant or informative.  The lovely people at Grantland found some of the oddest episodes that yearned to teach some kind of "social lesson," and the list is basically the exact one I'd make.  But there was one episode that I had completely forgotten about that had profound influence over my life as a child. An episode that seeped its way so deep into my subconscious that I still consider it till this day. 

So, hey, Punky Brewster...It's because of you that I had an obsession with climbing inside refrigerators. 
Don't Gloat, Punky

I don't exactly recall how the episode transpired, or who the "victim" was, but I do remember one very special episode of Punky involved a lesson in how a simple game of hide and seek could go horribly wrong.  While Punky and her friends were choosing places to hide, one of them got the bright idea to cram her body into a discarded refrigerator that was left for bulk pick up (or maybe it was just trailer trash, I don't recall).  What I DO recall is that the hiding place was so good that no one found her (even though the kids ran past it 100 times), she subsequently got locked in it, almost suffocated to death, only to be rescued by Punky's Dad (?) after timely CPR was administered.  Now, this should have gone down as a simple lesson learned, but for some reason, from this point forward, the sight of an empty refrigerator tempted me much like a pipe would a crack addict. 

(Side note: I have two other Punky Brewster memories. 1) There was an episode where Punky disappointed her father to such an extent that it caused him to utter the words "Son of a gun, Punky" with such disappointment that I knew I never wanted my parents to say that phrase to me. For this reason, I thought "Son of a gun" was tantamount to "Son of a bitch" for years.  The other memory involved watching the show with my grandmother and, for whatever reason, she asked me if I liked redheaded girls, to which I, of course, replied "EWWWWWWWWWW," though I'm sure I would have had a similar reaction had she asked if I liked girls with blond, brown or green hair because I was 6 and girls were gross at that point in my life. You know, cooties and all. By the way, I do not discriminate hair color these days, I'm lucky enough to find anyone willing to touch me, so at this point you can be bald for all I care as long as I can have some positive and reciprocated attention.  OK, and eeeend scene. Exeunt stage right, thanks for playing.)

Back to climbing into open appliances: 

Come to Momma.  It's OK.  I swear.

I don't know if everyone is like this, but I have this weird obsession with, at least, considering tempting fate when I know the outcome will be negative.  It's why, for years, I'd cautiously approach candle flames with steady fingers.  I have no clue why I did this, the only outcome of such an action is getting burned, there is zero benefit, but I'd find myself doing it anyway.  Also, remember that scene from "A Christmas Story" when the kid licked the frozen pole and his tongue got stuck? (I double dog dare you!!!)  Horrible, right?  Traumatizing for a kid, right? Well, that looked so fun that I tried the same thing with a metal shelf in my parents' freezer and, unfortunately, had similar results.  In fact, I still remember holding the bloody paper towel to the tip of my tongue while wiping away my own dumbass tears as I watched Alf on Hollywood Squares (It's amazing how often Alf pops up during my childhood).  Anyway, the same thing went for refrigerators as, anytime I saw an empty one (plugged in or not), I considered contorting my body so I could get inside it, as if to see if I would have the same fate as Punky's friend.  I remember thinking that it SHOULD be easy to kick myself out of a fridge, since they had no locks, and I wanted to prove to the world that Punky Brewster was portraying inaccuracy.  But instead of going through with the moronic task, I'd instead stare at the open fridge and mull over the consequences and benefits ( ALL THE BENEFITS!), only do to nothing about it.  There was, however, one time where I decided to channel my inner "mythbuster" and figured I'd give it a shot. So, I actually did enter an abandoned fridge only to close the door just enough for air to seep through. I still remember the ambivalence of my thoughts at the moment I brought the door within a centimeter of sealing. I figure it was the same rush the first astronauts felt just before liftoff.  I considered crossing this point of no return, thought maybe I'd show the world that I was a pioneer, but I ultimately chickened out because 1) you know everything on television is true and 2) I didn't want to die. 

Subconsciously, I still think of that episode anytime I see an abandoned fridge, even though I'm probably much too big to fit inside one now.  But the recent article combined with the memory makes me wonder why they don't make shows with amazing lessons like the one Punky taught me years ago.   I think I'd support an episode of NBC's new show "Whitney," in which Whitney locks herself in a fridge, except they don't let her out, she dies, and the show never airs again. 

Wouldn't you? 

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