television

The Wonder Years

We wrote this post Sunday night and intended to publish it yesterday. That was before we had a new addition to the family. We’ll have pictures tomorrow. For now, here’s what we meant to post then.

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Erin has been sick for the past week with a nasty cold. As if being thirty-nine weeks pregnant wasn’t hard enough.

Since she’s been bedridden, and we only have our TV/VCR combo in the bedroom, we’ve been going through my old VHS collection. On Saturday we watched The Fugitive, Best in Show and the Spain/Netherlands World Cup Final. That night  I pulled out my “Wonder Years” tape.

“Did you get into ‘The Wonder Years’?” I asked.

“Did I get into ‘The Wonder Years’?” Erin said.

We watched nine episodes — the one where Kevin’s dad balks at selling the old family car; the one where Kevin unintentionally begins the school walkout by going to the bathroom; the one where the Arnolds vacation at Ocean City and Kevin kisses Teri under a pier; the one where Kevin dates Becky Slater (Winnie Cooper’s real-life sister, by the way) to make Winnie jealous, and later the one where Kevin’s valentine for Winnie accidentally ends up in Becky’s locker. They were all from seasons two and three — the golden seasons before Paul transferred to prep school and Wayne dated a divorcee and Kevin got a job delivering Chinese food and Winnie and Kevin volunteer for the McGovern campaign.

As good as the episodes were, the commercials were equally entertaining. There were Gillette ads, back when Gillette had only two blades. There were Hanes commercials with Boomer Esiason, Michael Jordan, Howie Long and Joe Montana. There were previews for The Karate Kid III, Back To The Future 2 and Madhouse. Does anyone remember the Bo Jackson/AT&T “Reach Out America” plan? Or O’Boisies? Or the ABC show “The Young Riders”?

Erin fell asleep long before I did. Her head was resting on my chest. Because she’s been so stuffed up she can’t breathe through her nose, her mouth was open and a little puddle of drool was forming on my chest. She was in this exact position when the episode came on where Kevin helps his sister Karen skip school every Wednesday so she can go to the hill and do hippie stuff with her friends. The episode was set in 1969, and aired in 1989, and it got me thinking: If “The Wonder Years” aired today, it would be looking back on 1990. Who exactly is nostalgic for 1990 these days?

Well, me for one. When I watched “The Wonder Years” growing up, I was Kevin’s age, and watching them again this weekend made me relive junior high, which was actually a pretty happy and stable time in my life. Now here I was, at one o’clock on a Sunday morning, my pregnant wife drooling on my chest, and I was hit with such a wave of nostalgia — equal parts sadness and happiness, in full dollops, the way virtually every “Wonder Years” episode delivered it — that, before I could stop myself, I started crying.

The Karen episode ends with her running away to San Francisco with her friends and Kevin up late feeling guilty for being complicit in Karen’s lie. He hears a car pull up outside, and a knock on the door, and then what sounds like a muffled sob. In the kitchen, he sees his parents sitting on both sides of Karen, blessing her with forgiveness. Donovan’s “Catch The Wind” plays in the background. (This is why “The Wonder Years” has never made it to DVD: the cost of securing the music rights.) I remember where I was when I saw that episode, one of my favorites, and what was going on in my little twelve-year-old life. Now, twenty one years later, I am going to be a dad — maybe this week. How time flies. And me, trying to slow it down —

Ah, the song goes, but I may as well try and catch the wind.

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3 thoughts on “The Wonder Years

  1. Good post. I just wanted you to know that Scooter T’s previous visitor – Winnie the bassett hound is named after Winnie Cooper…one of Andrew Cashmere’s childhood crushes.

    This post is even better now that I’ve met Sam (a.k.a. Ben’s head on an adorable infant cutie). Congratulations to you becoming parents and one day inspiring your own Wonder Years for Sam:)

    1. I remember tearing up watching the series finale. Also, Winnie is named after Winnie the Pooh. Whenever you tell people she is named after Winnie Cooper, it makes we sound weird(er).

  2. Congrats! (I’m assuming you got a dog)

    Ben, maybe you should make a pitch to the networks for the Wonder Years of the 1990s.

    And it looks like I really need to work on that guest post, huh?

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