Like Sands Through The Hourglass…
It was totally not my fault.
My sweet great aunties bear all the blame.
I was fifteen years old when my parents moved crosstown and I changed high schools. It was just under 2 miles from our new house to the school, so by a distance of about one block I did not qualify for the school bus. A public bus made the rounds though, and picked up everyone in our neighborhood for a small monthly fee.
Getting home was a bit more difficult. The city bus left the high school immediately after school got out at 2PM. So if you wanted to stay for a club or event, you were on your own. The two mile walk wasn’t too bad in good weather, so often I walked.
But there was another alternative. My father’s aunts – the sisters of my grandmother – lived not too far from the high school. And I could walk over there and my mother would pick me up when she left work at 3:30.
So once or twice a week I did that. I walked over to my aunts’ little house.
Lillian and Lora were the sweetest ladies in the world. And they were always happy to see me. And they would give me a cookie and a ginger ale.
But they did not allow conversation.
Not at that time of day.
I’d knock on the kitchen door, and Aunt Lil would let me in and she’d say,
“Hurry up. Come in quick. The STORIES are on.”
Yes, Aunt Lillian and Aunt Lora were addicted to the Soaps.
All 4-foot-nine of her (including her 4-foot-nine bosom) would hustle back to the living room, so as not to miss a word. The cookie would have to wait for a commercial.
I usually caught the end of Days Of Our Lives and a good part of Another World. The aunts informed me that they used to watch the stories on CBS but had switched over to NBC recently in protest to some terrible storyline, which was too upsetting to talk about. (I believe a contract dispute resulted in the untimely death of their favorite character). But now they thought Another World was absolutely the best of “The Stories” on “The TV” – as they always referred to it.
My aunts especially loved Another World’s triangle of Alice and Steve and Rachel. The best thing about Soaps is the clear-cut lines between good and evil. Alice was an angel. Rachel was a conniving bitch. My aunties loved them both. (By the way, Steve was a pompous ass – but my aunties didn’t share that opinion.)
I thought it was all rather silly. But then..
Well, you know.
On those days when I was on time for the bus, and got home about 2:20 – well, I might just happen to turn on Days Of Our Lives – just to, you know, not be so bored at Aunt Lil’s.
And if we had a fresh bag of potato chips, I just might forget to turn the TV off and catch a bit of Another World before my mother came home from work. Mom did not (and still does not) approve of The Stories.
Then I went off to College. I had a little 12-inch black-and-white set that sometimes allowed me to tune into a grainy version of something that I could almost see and sometimes hear. And although the girls in the dorm often watched on the big set in the common room, it was too embarrassing to be seen watching Soaps. (And besides, they liked The Guiding Light – object of my aunties’ wrath.)
So I gave it up.
But …well…. you know.
I finished school eventually (really eventually… I stayed as long as possible). And once in a while, I’d tune in to the stories on a sick day. A five-year absence is nothing in soap opera time. Mostly the characters were having the same conversation.
Then in the early 80s two remarkable things happened.
- Luke and Laura.
The Luke and Laura romance on General Hospital made soap operas cool. And I even switched for a year or two, so I’d have the right cred at the office.
And my God… VCRs! Videotape with a timer was like the miracle of the loaves and fishes to the soap opera world.
Did you know you could watch a whole week’s worth of Days Of Our Lives in about 75 minutes? Not only because you could fast-forward through every commercial, but also because you could skip all the storylines about boring old people and focus in on just your favorites. And even with your favorite characters, you could save about eleven minutes a week by fast-forwarding through all the long lingering looks.
And I continued to watched Days and Another World occasionally for more than 20 years. Finally, I had to admit that I had seen every star-crossed lover, dastardly villain, and incurable illness in every possible combination. And so many cases of amnesia and total facial plastic surgery that it was a miracle that any character ever knew who the other guy was.
And so, at about age 35, I gave up The Stories.
Besides, no one could ever give me a better story than 1981-82’s Day of Our Lives story of Tony and Renee.
Here (in my opinion) is the best soap storyline of all time:
Renee DuMonde comes to Salem to be with her sister, Lee. Over the course of a weird serial strangler plot (in which Days was able to kill off a lot of their less popular characters) Renee falls in love with young Tony DiMera, son of crime boss Stefano DiMera.
Lee tells her sister Renee over and over again to stay away from Tony and the DiMera family, but Renee was so in love. And Tony asks her to marry him.
Lee is distraught and runs away, but leaves a note for Renee, spilling her terrible secret.
Lee is not Renee’s sister after all. She is Renee’s mother. And Renee’s father – horror of horrors – is Stefano DiMera.
Tony is Renee’s brother! She cannot marry him.
She breaks it off, without explanation. Tony will not give up. After many, many episodes of “Why? Why? Why?” – Renee tells Tony the truth. They are brother and sister and they must part forever.
Renee, heartbroken and trying to get past her almost-incest, agrees to marry some other dude (who I don’t remember, but I think he was your standard obnoxious prick).
On the day of Renee and Prick’s wedding, Tony can hardly bear the pain. He ends up at the mental institutional where his own mother has been locked up for years. I think perhaps he had to track her down, because I remember being surprised he had a mother.
Anyway, Tony goes to the asylum and his mother tells him that his father Stefano had her committed years ago to punish her. She is not crazy, but locked up out of vengeance.
“But I had the last laugh,” says Tony’s mother. “I have my own revenge. Because I had a lover all that time ago. And Stefano is a fool. He is NOT your father!” (and she laughs maniacally)
Wait, wait! If Stefano is not Tony’s father, then he is not Renee’s brother. They are not related! He can marry her!
He races back (I remember a lot of running like Godzilla was right behind him, and sweat and dirt, but not sure how much of that is my own embellishment)… Tony runs to the church where Renee is marrying Dickface!
It’s too late!
Thanks, Aunt Lil and Aunt Lora. It was definitely worth 25 years of heavy organ music to watch such a super bad romance.
- Posted in: Humor
- Tagged: Another World, Days Of Our Lives, General Hospital, Soap Operas
Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.
My grandmother always watched General Hospital in the 70s and 80s. She called it “stories” too.
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General Hospital was THE soap of the time, that’s for sure!
It was funny and entertaining just as always! 🙂
Reminded me of the time that I used to go to creche right after school (until the evening when my parents came to pick me up) and the lady there used to watch soaps on ‘the TV’ while I ate my lunch. I used to invariably have to watch one of these ridiculous family dramas with her. I even knew the plot in a few days and could predict the subsequent episodes. She hated it when I could predict things and they came true! And I was only 12 when I was predicting these things!!!!!
They were all so predictable, and yet, I could not stop watching.
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It was a sister thing. I used to watch “The Edge of Night” with Gramma. I was too little to understand any of it, and Mom would get mad when she let me watch with her, but I was with Gramma,, in that tiny little front room of hers, and that was the best place to be (Lil & Lora’s came in a very close second).
Gramma and her sisters did not watch the same soaps, and they just knew their soap was the best.
There were some disagreements when I as very little. Lora would come to lunch and wait for Lil to get out of work to take her home, and they would disagree like sisters which one to watch – that was about the time Mom would take me downstairs, for some reason. Funny the things you remember when you are very young.
I was dying at your explanation of how you can watch a week’s worth in just 75 minutes! Priceless 😀
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And I didn’t even mention the fact that you could skip the middle of the week all together. Everything happened with a cliffhanger on Friday, and the answers on Monday.
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Love this! My mom and grandma were CBS story fans. Grandma lived about a half mile from us, and since both of them were widows, Mom visited her every afternoon, and would be there when I got home from school. Then, years later, I became a General Hospital fan….. Luke and Laura…..sigh.
My mother actually tried once to follow a soap…she didn’t have the patience. And still… though she watched a lot of TV today (not much else to do at 92) – she’d much rather see a game show or talk show. Or best of all, SPORTS!
Don’t forget “The Chew” !
Mom would watch the Lora and Lil’s dreaded CBS. I only watched when I was home sick or in later years when I would drop by for visits. My take away: As slow as the story lines were, the newborn children grew to college age with the speed of light. Great synopsis as always Nancy. And I remember “the aunts” well, they were so sweet.
You are so right! Little Timmy would go off to kindergarten on Friday, and on Monday he came through the door a teenager, and Mom would ask him how was high school. I think there is a dirth of storylines for 9 year olds. But teenagers can get in a mess of trouble.
My grandmother and great-grandmother eschewed General Hospital in favor of Guiding Light. I never could understand the fascination with bad lighting and over-acting. But some of my favorite books read like a soap opera. I haven’t thought of Guiding Light’s disco-ball-esque opening in some time. Thanks for that!
I loved the way they always had their intimate moments with the woman in the man’s arms, but facing away from him, so that the camera could capture both faces. (like the photo I posted above of Renee and Tony)
Oh Lord. My mother watched them but they moved way too slowly for me.
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Glacially slow – that’s why VCRs were a god-send.
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I don’t know what’s so addicting about the soaps, but I got hooked on Days of Our Lives back in the ’70’s. I would never have consciously turned it on, but its time slot was right after Phil Donahue, which I watched faithfully. I just left the TV on while I was eating lunch and next thing I knew I HAD to watch. For years, if I couldn’t be home to watch it, I taped it. Then somehow, life got in the way and I gave it up. I remember Tony DiMera and Stefano, who was fixated on Marlena. She was my favorite. I saw her through about four husbands. Even now, if I’m in the nail salon or somewhere else with a TV in the background and Days is on, I still recognize some of the characters.
I believe they recently brought back a lot of the old actors in the same roles, in order to revive the show. I’m retired now, and could watch – but I refuse to turn on the TV during the day.
Oh, The Stories, we all have had our moments with them. Luke & Laura snagged me too. There was also one called “Ryan’s Hope”. It was brand new, which was virtually unheard of. All the soaps had been on since before television. Seriously, they actually started on radio. Anyway, Ryan’s Hope was one all us young folk could say we watched from day one. It was ours; young, fresh, brand new. I watched the first ever episode and the very last episode and most of the ones in between.
I remember Ryan’s Hope. In 1969, the year I graduated from high school there were 19 soaps on the air. There are now 4.
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I know! It’s remarkable how things changed for the soap opera world so abruptly. The only one I watch now is the half hour British “Coronation Street”. It’s an addiction.
I don’t remember watching Soaps much with Gramma, but I used to go up to her apartment after dinner and watch Westerns. She loved cowboy stories and that was about the high point for Westerns on TV..
Yes! She loved Sugarfoot especially.
During the day, she also watched “Queen For a Day” – and she’d cry sometimes at these poor ladies’ tales of woe.
OK, confession time. I watched soaps when breast feeding my babies. We all survived.
hahaha. I don’t think it hurt your babies, but if they ever say they have amnesia….
Fun fun memories! I was a “Days” girl myself. Now it’s more like being addicted to the “night stories” like Game of Thrones or Bones or some other such nonsense. Shows change…addicition does not.
It was The Good Wife for me. I’m heartbroken but certain I will find an equally silly replacement.
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What a great storyline. It is similar to an old Irish humor-ballad I’ve heard where the girl complained to her mother that her father put the cabash on all her boyfriends saying they were products of his philandering. Her mother assured her to go with her heart because that man was not really her father, anyway!
Most of the Soaps have been replaced with reality shows. Kardashians, etc. I remember my mother and grandmother watching soaps when I was a kid. I never got in the habit though.
My girlfriend Michael Hawk would rather
have watched General Hospital everyday than to
do just about anything ! She would plan her
whole day around it … And you’re right …
You could not watch for a year and you coul
still follow what was going on … Amazing
stuff really … Then the reality shows came
on and I sometimes watch Keeping up with the
Kardasians … It was mind boggling to realize
not too long ago how much of the show
is spent switching between the different
houses ! I never saw the one with the incest
story line sad to say … And I was sorry when Susan
Lucci never ever never got an award …