The four of us are in my parents’ room, covering the floor with our sleeping bags and blankets and pillows. It’s summertime, and the summer of Nick@Nite’s Block Party Summer, the one where they play marathons of Gilligan’s Island every Tuesday. We love this show and every Tuesday night we are together, at their house or ours (usually ours; it was always usually ours) to watch it. We were kids and we were up late and that night when Gilligan’s Island was over we looked at each other, dejected.
My dad got up to go to the bathroom, one of us kids asked, “What else is on?” and my mom flipped through the channels, stopping on another old show. A guy in a suit standing in a room. Looked boring.
“What is this?” I asked, clearly not wanting one of my mom’s old TCM-type movies or shows.
“Just watch it. You’ll like it.”
On the tv, someone got shot. The first scene I ever saw of this show and it was of somebody getting killed.
“Oh yeah,” I said sarcastically. “Real nice.” (I was fairly sarcastic for a pre-adolescent girl.)
“Keep watching,” she told me.
“What is it?” I asked again.
“And old show. Get Smart. Just be quiet and watch it.”
So I did as I was told. And a few scenes later I think I uttered the words, “This is the best show ever!”
And so it began…
The four of us, sleeping on the floor of my parents’ bedroom. A late summer night. My mom switching the channel from Nick@Nite to TVLand.
It was my particular obsession, this show, but we all loved it. The school year came and the three of us that were in school would race off the bus and get to the house just in time to see it on TVLand every afternoon. The show itself was interspersed with commercials, most notably for the George Foreman Grill. To this day the name ‘George Foreman’ reminds me of Get Smart.
While I am incontestably the one who liked (understatement, understatement) the show the most, it is inextricably tied up with the legend of the four. When the movie came out I thought, I wish Brad and Madi were here to see it with us, and when me and Taylor settle down to watch my DVDs of the show at night the only thing that seems missing is the other half of us.
I miss them, Brad and Madi. I miss spreading blankets out on the floor during the summer and watching tv all night. I miss the Dark Game and midnight snacks and everyone’s particular neurosis and laughing at each other. I miss the perfect balance we seem to strike when we are together. It is true that we are older now, that I am an “adult” and Brad and Taylor are teenagers, and Madi is starting that whole process of “teenagedom” herself. We are beginning our lives as separate entities, no longer always together and no longer the events of our lives flowing seamlessly together. We aren’t kids anymore, and it scares me a little.
It scares me that it is true that time in our lives, the Get Smart, the summer days and nights, the perfection of it all, ended with the ominous THAT SUMMER, and that it is something we will never get back. I am wary of all this time that is passing, all this time that we are changing into people we don’t know. I am nervous every time we get together that things will be different somehow. That something in our lives, something in the natural succession of life, something out of our control, will have changed the four. Will have changed the balance we strike when we are together.
And every time we get together those fears prove themselves to be either unfounded or unimportant. Because we are the four, and we are bound by something that is either friendship or family ties or something unknowable that keeps us tethered to each other. We change and we grow and we become teenagers and adults and people with our own lives, and then we come together again and stay up too late watching the tv shows we grew up with and we play the Dark Game and Ghost in the Room and have midnight snacks and go back to the balance we have always had.
I love them. I miss them.
And, as a very related aside, I talked to Brad tonight and he told me he won MVP of his jr. high football team. The conversation went like this…
Brad: Hey, I won, uh, uh, MVP.
Me: You did? That’s awesome! Clap, clap!
Brad: Thanks. Everyone voted for me except for one guy.
Me: Who didn’t vote for you? Your mortal enemy?
Brad: No, me.
Also his team went undefeated. Two years in a row, woot woot! Go Brad!! And go BR!!