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Me and Mary Tyler Moore
Occasionally, for no particular reason, flashes of my childhood creep into my mind. And I am filled with a tinge of anxiety. My entire body tingles with a slight burning sensation. It is not that I had a difficult, sad childhood- I did not- but an awkward one at times. Awkward in stature, I was very petite and much smaller than my classmates. In physical appearance I could not care less about hair style or brand clothing. I preferred boys clothing to dresses and didn’t play with dolls so I was never one of the popular girls. And, I was odd in personality as I compensated for my uniqueness by bragging to my peers “I am adopted and I wear a hearing aid and you don’t ha-ha.” This only drew quizzical looks. Thirty something odd years later, those awkward years still cause me to cringe. However, there are other times when I look back on those young, tender years, and am able to conjure up those memories when all was right with the world. It was the most glorious of all nights in the mid 1970’s on Television: The CBS Saturday night lineup; All in the family, M*a*s*h, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart and Carol Burnett.
In our house on Saturday nights, the sounds and smell of buttery popping corn my mother was preparing for us in the kitchen filled the air. She would yell for us to “come get it” and I would run grab a bowl of popcorn and a glass of bubbling coke. Dashing into the den I plopped my scrawny butt on the floor just inches away from the Television eagerly awaiting my favorite shows. At 8:00 the magic began: “Boy, the way Glen Miller played. Songs that made the Hit Parade…”
Archie’s mispronunciation of words, Hawkeye’s tricks on Major Frank Burns, and Newhart’s dry wit all had me in stitches. But, there was just one show that totally swept me away from my lonely, awkward life: “Mary Tyler Moore.” At the opening theme song, I sat visualizing myself being Mary jogging, washing the car, feeding ducks and throwing my cap up in the air.
There really was something about Mary. She was pretty, sweet, and smart. She was Rhoda’s, Murray’s, Lou’s, Phyllis’, and even Ted’s confidante. Mary was that working, independent woman who was sometimes awkward and lonely herself, but by the end of the show had always solved her problem, won the award, got the date, or the job promotion.
Her friends became my friends. I hurt for Murray each time his novel was rejected. I cheered for Rhoda when she lost weight. I laughed at and secretly admired Sue Ann for her ballsy display of affection for any man who walked her way. I admired Lou for being that tough, yet gentle boss. And being that I was adopted, I related, finally, to Ted when he and Georgette could not have children and adopted a child.
This fantasy world I engaged in on Saturday evenings allowed me a short time to escape. Mary gave me hope. Watching her, I knew I would grow up to have that kind of life, have those kinds of friends, live in that cool apartment, and have that cool job. I was going to be able to take a nothing day in my awkward childhood and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile.
I was going to make it after all.