|Reach for that future, Mary!|
The agony! (My brother knew what he was doing.) My last opportunity to hear that drum fill! I was despondent. (I can't remember whether or not my brother did what he so villainously promised; Dali: "The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant." This jewel, though, I've lost for good.) In retrospect, I was also silly because within months of The Mary Tyler Moore Show's final airing the show would begin its assault on our afternoons via syndication; at one point, channel 5, the local Washington D.C. NBC affiliate station, was airing up to three episodes in a row in daytime, under clustered themes such as "Lou's Lu-Lu's!" But at my age I didn't really understand reruns, where they came from, who was in charge of them, why they happened —if they'd happen—except that Get Smart! and My Three Sons were great and we were blessed when they were beamed into our rec rooms every afternoon, the broadcasts originating from far-away Baltimore caught, tenuously, by a movable antenna on our roof that we activated from a console atop our TV set.
What's striking about that boy on the driveway and the misery his older brother created is how utterly archaic the tableau has become. Even my childish waiting for the inevitable reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show involved, well, waiting, and for who knew how long I'd have to wait! I've written before about this blend of anguish and pleasure, and how that's lost in this century, or anyway so changed as to be unrecognizable. In Plutarch's "Consolation To His Wife," written in the first century, the philosopher and his wife have to stoically bear weeks and months as their missives to each other arrive, awash in their grief of losing their small child. Try and imagine such an interval as you and your loved one are forced to deal separately with a loss of that magnitude. Now, when something—virtually anything—happens in, say, the remote countryside of France, I can know about it within seconds. This is, of course, both a staggering and, by now, not terribly fresh development. We're all aware at the hyper speed by which we live our lives, but none of us can understand the implications of it. Waiting as a fact, as a condition of being alive, as a kind of simmering that allows desire and anticipation and fear and regret and imagination to steep as their maddening flavor profile matures, has virtually been eliminated from contemporary life. Will we ever come to regret this organic, inevitable leap into the narrowing gap between seconds, minutes?
The Internet would have allowed that pathetic kid in his driveway to listen to and love the theme song anytime he wanted, as many times as he wanted. And the web might've rendered impotent his older brother's teasing. This is what I had no access to in 1977: