Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Look at a Family

Monday, January 28, 2013.  I race home from evening tutorials in order to plop myself in front of telly to catch the season premiere of Dallas.  I had just spent a good twenty minutes explaining to one of my students how watching television leads to brain rot, so I feel like a complete hypocrite.  I don’t normally race home nor plop for telly, but there’s something strangely reassuring about the night-time soap, the one I grew up with, which now possesses a bittersweet tone due to the recent passing of actor Larry Hagman. 

Mr. Newman is home on Monday evenings, and I’m sure he’d rather be doing anything else – detailing my car, ramming an ice-pick into his left eardrum, etc. – anything other than watching TV with me.  We don’t watch much TV, and after 14-years-of marriage it remains new territory for us.

I catch him up on the story line (J.R. is bad.  J.R.’s son is bad.  Bobby is good.  Bobby’s son is good).  “See,” Mr. Newman begins, “it would have been better if J.R.’s son had been the good one and Bobby’s son the bad.”  I agree with him and pray that the history lesson is over.  My prayer goes unanswered.  “Why can’t Sue Ellen have a glass of wine?”  he asks.  “Because,” I sigh, “she’s a recovering alcoholic who ended up in a sanitarium at one point.  My god, the things you don’t know!”  How I’ve remembered  this for thirty years, yet  can’t recall where I put the lid to my coffee pot during yesterday’s ‘ kitchen experiment’, I couldn’t tell you.  I don’t mention it to him, though, for I’m slightly embarrassed by it.  I also need to concentrate.

Strange noises begin to emit from Mr. Newman’s phone.  He recently acquired a new sound effects ap- for work purposes, I’m told, and soon he peppers tonight’s episode with them:

“Cliff Barnes nor his daughter will ever lay claim to Ewing Energy!”  someone hisses from the screen.

“What – Ever!” replies the snarky Valley Girl voice from Mr. Newman’s phone.

“There’s something you need to hear,” whispers a tearful member of the Ewing clan.

“THWWWPPPPPPSSSS!” screams the I-Phone, as if it had recently experienced a bad all-you-can-eat night at Big Bob’s Burritos.

Once our guffaws die down, we tune out the show for a bit in order to discuss our family.  Not the silliness that is us and the way in which we live (I describe it as silly; others have told me it’s downright deranged), but a very real, incredibly serious conversation about recruiting a new member to the Newman Team.  Since the passing of our beloved Kramer, we’re down a cat, and life seems unnatural and disjointed with just the three of us.  Tallulah Belle sits between us, trying to watch the show, and is visibly agitated by the disruptions.  Kramer never minded disruptions.  Tallulah Belle is a different story.  Tallulah Belle has developed quite an attitude lately, and is playing a dangerous game.

We’re pretty lucky, though, given the fact that our most pressing issue right now is whether or not to adopt another cat.  The only point during the evening in which we get sideways with each other has to do with the color of Patrick Duffy’s eyebrows, but I won’t bore you with the details of that debate.

As the evening draws to a close, I wonder if other families do what we do.  Do they center their lives on the comedy that is life?  Do they treat each day as if it were middle school, complete with animated discussions about cats and fart noises?  The Ewings of Dallas don’t, but my hope is that you and your family do.
Beth Newman
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!