Hooked on Daytime TV: Sucked into Granny's Vortex of Evil!---Part I
Watching Grandma watch the soaps gave me my first experience of seeing a human being talking to a television set. She often felt compelled by decency to ask these fabulously-coiffed but deeply-twisted soap people, “Are you really gonna tell that lie?”, or “How long you think it’s gonna take before he finds that out?”…
How far back does your soap-opera memory go? I must not yet have been in school when my mother spoke to me of one Amy Ames, a heart-of-gold heroine featured on “The Edge of Night”. There was also a guy named Adam Drake at some point on the show, and a dark-haired beauty named Nicole. Who these people were, I don’t know; I can only remember the announcer intoning daily that eerie title: “Theeeee EDGE…of NIGHT!!!“, and doing so over the scariest set of fright-night piano chords ever heard on TV.
My younger brother and I didn’t see much of these people at our house at that time; Moom was generally at work outside the home, and soon enough we found ourselves in school. But between Grandma and Aunt Nickie during summer vacations, and with babysitters all through childhood, we got a real feel for the non-stop fevered mayhem that characterized grown-up life, courtesy of the soaps.
Grandma would arrive for a visit, promptly tell Moom to get my brother’s hair cut, then whip up her peerless teacakes for us kids, and give us sweet hot tea with milk in real teacups, so that we could pretend we were drinking coffee like the old folk.
At a certain point she’d shush us and fire up the set for “Search for Tomorrow” and “The Secret Storm”. (What do these bizzarre titles mean? I mean, really? Who needs to search for tomorrow? I’m busy trying to stave off tomorrow! And what on earth is a “secret storm”?)
Grandma would never just sit and watch her shows; my recollection was that she was always working on something, one of the countless household chores she could probably do in her sleep if needed. So she could give these various soap-opera vixens, victims, and ne’er-do-wells all due attention as their stories unfolded.
Watching Grandma watch the soaps gave me my first experience of seeing a human being talking to a television set. She often felt compelled by decency to ask these fabulously-coiffed but deeply-twisted soap people, “Are you really gonna tell that lie?”, or “How long you think it’s gonna take before he finds that out?”.
Luckily for my brother, he’s an outdoor type, and so he failed to become hooked on this business. But I was an indoor kid, for the most part. Over time I learned that this meant you could read, write, draw, play, and snack in front of the TV until somebody pushed you out into the street to “get some sunshine”.
I wanted to watch “The Monkees” and other fun kid stuff at Aunt Nickie’s when visiting Dayton. But I worked out quickly that if we were to watch television together—and believe me, we were, back before American homes had an extra TV on every free, level surface—Auntie would definitely be calling the shots, and we’d be checking out “All My Children” and “Days of Our Lives”. Without fail. Like sands through the hourglass. Yup—so were the days of my summer life…
Please check out “Hooked on Daytime TV”, Part II by clicking here!
If you’re familiar with Phoebe Tyler and the Pine Valley Set, or the denizens of Llanview or Port Charles USA, you might find it especially amusing!