By Joe Klock, Sr.
Ever look in the mirror and think you see a reflection of Joe Btfsplk, the pathetic little cartoon character who walked around with a perpetual cloud over his head?
Or sometimes picture your life as a professional basketball game in which you, as Mickey Rooney, are playing Center?
If so, remember that, even among the luckiest people in the world, rain occasionally falls on their parades. Psychologists suggest that, at such times, one should think of people who are worse off. In the midst of a deep indigo mood, though, it is difficult to peer through the maudlin mist and identify a single soul more wretched than oneself.
Under these circumstances, it can be therapeutic to tune in on the daily dollops of doldrum which abound in the theatrical wasteland of television drama called the Soap Operas.
My earliest encounter with that world of woe was on those occasions when I was kiddy-sat by my wonderful and almost perfectly spherical Aunt Frances, who was an attentive care-giver, so long as I didn't interfere with her two addictions, both associated with radio.
One was "The Breakfast Club With Don McNeil," during which (among other sacred rituals) I was obliged to march with her around the kitchen table and laugh with her at unseen and unexplained goings-on in the remote studio.
The other was her carefully culled selection of "soaps," the only one of which I recall clearly was "Our Gal Sunday."
In this organ-accompanied orgasm of angst, O.G.S. faced no more onerous a challenge than being "an orphan girl from the little mining town of Silver Creek, Colorado, who in young womanhood married England's richest, most handsome nobleman."
It did not then seem to me, nor does it now, the cruelest scourge upon a familyless lass in a hick town, but Aunt Frances wept copiously as Sunday struggled with her seemingly daunting trek from rags to riches.
Never, though, through all of her tribulations, was our gal ever embroiled in situations that could not be rehashed, as I'm sure they were, by said Auntie at subsequent meetings of the Ladies' Sodality, without fear of offending its puritanical membership.
Fast-forward to the modern mutations of this dubious art form, wherein sight has been added to sound and no holds barred, morally or physically.
The limitless boundaries of suffering and depravity to be found on the TV "soaps" is of such magnitude that only the most desperate of housewives and male derelicts would fail to find their lot in life a lot better than what's portrayed, in graphic-to-gory detail, on the boob tube.
By way of research, I sallied into the salacious Soapworld of daytime television by referring to a recent one-week summary published in one of the enlightened daily newspapers which carries this column.
Therein, I found the following travails, which are listed in alphabetical order for easy reader reference and which were neither augmented nor exaggerated by your humble scribe:
Abortion, addiction, asphyxiation, betrayal, conspiracy, death, deception, disloyalty, divorce, ghosts, illness, infidelity, ingratitude, jilting, kidnaping, larceny, litigation, lust, miscarriage, murder, nightmares, rejection, revenge, seduction, subterfuge, terror, unemployment and violence, in various forms and degrees of intensity.
Mind you, this was the inventory of the pains suffered during a single week, by a relatively small number of characters in a relatively small number of dramas, but it's probably representative of the norm in this genre of so-called entertainment.
It goes without saying (although I am, of course, about to violate this principle) that the trauma of these reported events would have been exacerbated had I exposed my delicate sensibilities to the actual telecasts. Therein, the only thing left to a viewer's imagination is speculating on just how deeply future programs might dip into the cesspools of human behavior.
Is also goes without saying that Aunt Frances is daily tsk-tsk-ing and frowning from her heavenly perch about the levels to which our mass media have sunk in pursuit of the prurient parameters of public taste - all during hours when kiddy-sat young-uns are present and eagerly receptive.
Anyway, the point is (we always get there eventually, right?) no matter how blue might be your "funk du jour," things are always a lot worse for the Soapfolks.
So, the next time you find yourself conducting a pity party, just compare your situation with how the world is turning in the days of the lives of the young, restless, bold and beautiful denizens of TV-land.
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