All In The Family


I mentioned in yesterday’s blog that my son and daughter are amazingly close. I didn’t know until last night that they often text each other to provide a snap shot of the interaction between the General and I. When you stop to think about it, I’d say it is comedy at its finest. Of course, I have a fairly warped sense of humor.


When Andrea and Kevin stopped by to pick up their dogs from “Gram’s day care” yesterday, Andrea showed me the text she had sent her brother on Sunday during our commute to Sealy. Craig provided a two-word response: “That’s hysterical”!


Another friend whose been reading my blog from day one thinks the script could be used to forge a sitcom similar to the interaction exchanged between Archie and Edith in All In The Family. Of course, she was quick to add: “It would be with a more genteel layer of interaction”. For starters, even with that disclaimer, I didn’t immediately consider the observation or suggestion the highest of compliments. For one thing Archie Bunker was pretty narrow minded and opinionated. If you’re thinking: “Don – That’s you to a T”, I’d say: “Give me more time. I’m working on it.” Hold on, I’m giving you too much credit. That is not who I am at all (well – hopefully not).


I don’t think of myself as narrow minded or seemingly prejudiced against folks who think differently or look differently from the way I think and look. I’d like to think that I’m still learning and that diversity provides a platform where we can learn from each other. For starters, the General and I are as different as night and day. Of course, at times she thinks I’d be better served if I thought just like she thinks. She’s also smart enough to know that is never going to happen. My mantra is: “Give me liberty or give me death, but don’t give me that”.


Never let it be said: “You have to look at life the way I look at life to be my friend”. In addition, my nickname for the General is meant as a term of endearment focusing on one of her strengths. Archie referred to Edith as “dingbat”. Ouch! It is difficult to process that “label” as a term of endearment. It seems pretty harsh and denigrating. Of course, like I said, the friend who suggested a sitcom of a snapshot of the interaction between the General and I indicated it would be more genteel and upscale than All In The Family.


Of course, I’m referencing a television sitcom from the 70s. Some of the people who read my blog have no idea what I’m talking about. They weren’t even born when All In The Family was popular. Either that or they were watching Captain Kangaroo on television. Don’t minimize for a minute the influence that television has on children. When we were visiting in Maine, I talked with a lady who sold her business in Los Angeles and moved to Bath, Maine. I asked about her motivation and she responded, “I have wanted to live in Maine since I was five years old. I remember the pictures taken in Maine that Captain Kangaroo showed on television from a book. I was fascinated with the stories and pictures he shared. I knew at the age of five that one day I would live here. It was a life-long dream.”


Wow! That’s pretty impactful. Good for Captain Kangroo and for the five year old who cast a vision to one day live there. As for Archie, I’m not really sure what a five year old could learn from watching the sitcom that would equip them for negotiating the demands of life. Actually, that’s not totally true. The show revolved around the life of a working-class bigot and his family, but the show also broke ground on referencing and discussing a lot of controversial issues and differences previously off limits for television.


For those who missed it, “All In The Family is about a typical white working-class family living in Queens, New York. Its patriarch is Archie Bunker (O’Connor), an outspoken, narrow-minded white man, seemingly prejudiced against everyone who is not like him or his idea of how people should be. Archie’s wife Edith (Jean Stapleton) is sweet and understanding, though somewhat naïve and uneducated; her husband sometimes disparagingly calls her “dingbat”. Their one child, Gloria, (Sally Struthers), is generally kind and good-natured like her mother, but displays traces of her father’s stubbornness; unlike them, however, she is a feminist. Gloria is married to college student Michael Stivic (Reiner) – referred to as “Meathead” by Archie – whose values are likewise influenced and shaped by the counterculture of the 1960s. The two couples represent the real-life clash of values between the so-called Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers. For much of the series, the Stivics live in the Bunkers’ home to save money, providing abundant opportunity for them to irritate each other”.


Okay, so what did my daughter overhear on our commute to Sealy on Sunday that she thought was worthy to forward on to her brother?


“Mom – What do you mean you haven’t decided how long to leave the house on the market?
Dad – I’m thinking about buying a duplex. One-side for you and one-side for me.


Mom – Do we have to live that close to each other?


Dad – It depends on whether your mother comes down with her cat.”


All MY Best!