Monday, April 21, 2008

Just One More Thing...

As you may have guessed, I have recently become obsessed with “Murder, She Wrote.” I discovered the show during Groundhog’s Day weekend when I was too drunk to sleep. I had a house full of people and didn’t want to turn the TV on, so I browsed the instant (just add water) movies and shows. I had just watched a Columbo episode with Leonard Nimoy as the killer and it really freaked me out. Talk about a cold hearted snake. Nimoy was almost too clinical of a killer. Also, Columbo used the murder weapon found at the scene to crack the shell on his hard boiled egg breakfast. I guess that makes him a hard-boiled detective. Anyway, it was creepy on so many levels, I decided to abandon Columbo and find something else to watch.

Netflix said, that if I enjoyed Columbo, I’d probably enjoy MSW. So, I took the recommendation and settled in to a 5 a.m. viewing. I started with season 1 and boy was it corny. But I remember Doc saying it was a show his mother enjoyed. Sadly, Doc’s mother walked on in 2003. As I watched the show, I felt this sort of warm feeling. My MIL and I didn’t always see eye to eye, which is typical of MIL relationships, I would guess. But watching this show made me remember things I’d forgotten about Mary.

Isn’t memory a funny thing? Some people like to listen to music to bring back the old days. Others might travel back in time through photo albums or journals. I am probably the least nostalgic person I know. I don’t like to relive the past. I prefer to play out the possibilities of my future instead of probing the painful past for memories and rolling them around in my mind like some kind of mental Jolly Rancher. Recently, however, I’ve learned the value of memory. Now that so many of my nearest and dearest have either left town or left this mortal coil, I try to look for memories to tie me to them.

It starts with dreams. I see them in my dreams. If they’ve passed away, I talk to them, but they don’t talk back to me. I cling to those dreams and the feeling that they were nearby again. I also recall what they liked and try to bring whatever it is into my life, even if it’s not really my cup of tea, just so I can be close to that person for a little while. Like watching Murder, She Wrote to bring my MIL back.

The interesting thing with MSW is that, when the show was on the air, I was probably totally outside of the demographic market. I was in high school and college at the time. CBS was in full-blown “Celebrate the Elderly” mode and it didn’t really speak to me. But as I watch now, I get a comforting feeling that I am watching MSW and experiencing some of the same reactions Mary may have had when she watched it.

Sometimes I try to think what Mary might have thought about what was going on. I don’t know. It makes me feel better. In my heart, I know I kept Doc’s parents at arms’ length. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t. Doing things or experiencing things they enjoyed, I feel like I’m opening my heart to them for real. Perhaps, it’s too late and I’m closing the barn door after the horses got away. But you have to close that door at some point, don’t you? Even if the horses never come back.

But now, watching MSW is no longer an exercise in nostalgia for times that never were. But rather I’ve come to really enjoy it. I’ve found a connection to Jessica Fletcher. I’ve also found a role model in her. She’s a successful writer who travels the world and people invite her to become involved in whatever important task they have in front of them. That’s what I want to be. Even more so, though, I like the sweet way that she doesn’t take shit from anyone. She has no problem calling people on their lies in such a way that makes the liar fell like she deeply cares for him or her. It’s remarkable.

I typically prefer to assume if you look me in the eye and say something, that you’re telling me the truth. But as I’ve aged, I know that people can’t be telling the truth all the time. I like to pick my battles, but in the past, I’ve felt unarmed, not able to tell when I was on the business end of a snow job or not. But now, I have developed my instincts and I can tell when someone isn’t being completely honest. I still struggle with the confrontation part, but with Jessica’s help, I think I have gathered a vocabulary for calling bullshit without being mean.

So forgive me if in the very near future, I put my nose where it doesn’t belong or call you on your bullshit. It’s only because I love you and I want to be a part of your life, while we are both still here to enjoy it together.


  1. "So forgive me if in the very near future, I put my nose where it doesn’t belong or call you on your bullshit."

    Pah, you've been doing THAT to me for ages. NOW you're just x-pandin' yo' horizons.

    you know that I'm nostalgic enuff for th' both o' us, so 'twas nice to read this post-- it was comfy, like gramma's ol' blanket wrapped 'round me on a chilly nite. I remember MY mom lurved MSW and made a point of watching it weekly. I don't remember any of it, but I think it was written well, and lets face it, you have a taste for mystery fic.

    I think *I'm* developing a better BS meeter myself, now that I'm out of Hell and in th' Cave. I think it might be good for me soul to call someone on th' lies they're tellin' to themselves (maybe I should call up my S2B-X??)

  2. Does this mean you're making Doc trade in his Simon & Simon short- shorts for a string of pearls?

  3. Doc has Simon & Simon short shorts?? this is what I get for visiting y'all in a cold time o' th' year!!

    Tell Doc that if he can't bring no Holy Ail to Tiki, I'd better see him in them shorts!!

    (thanks, E, for the tip!!)

  4. While I do own a half a dozen pairs of shorts, they are all long khaki hiking shorts.

    I have been told in the past that I have nice legs, but I am embarrassed to show them off.


  5. That's so funny. My very intelligent, geeky brother got into watching all the old Columbos recently (also a Star Trek fan like me) and we watched that Nimoy one together during my last trip out east to his place. I thought it was going to be dorky, but I actually enjoyed it. He has them all on DVD I think. Maybe I should borrow them.

    Plus, maybe I'll buy him MSW for Christmas...??

  6. Capn: Thanks for the compliment. I'd recommend not testing your bullshit-calling abilities on your stbxw. I think you'll need about a year of serious study (i.e. watching murder she wrote) first.

    E: I'll never tell...

    Doc: If you've got 'em, flaunt ' hiking shorts. Short shorts do no one any favors.

    GKL: Definately borrow the Columbo episodes. I have yet to see one I didn't like. As far as getting him MSW for Christmas...I don't know. My love for the show is so irrational, I don't know if my recommendation is trustworthy. I suppose if you include the gift receipt you'll be all right.

    BTW: did you think the Nimoy episode was at all creepy? I thought he was a terrifying killer, not unlike the spanish dude in No Country for Old Men.

  7. My mom would love your blog if she knew what a blog was. And were she alive.

    She loved "Murder, She Wrote."

  8. I haven't seen Murder She Wrote in ages. Now I must find one to see again. All they're showing is Matlock. Of course then I'll have to watch Beauty and the Beast after that to see Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts.

  9. On accounta I used to live in L.A. I knew a lot of TV actors. One friend of mine was a guest on "Murder She Wrote" several times. And my favorite story about her was when we were out to breakfast together with a friend of mine (Ph.d. candidate in literature) who was visiting from home. Being a PhD candidate, she thought it was the appropriate thing to shun TV and all TV watchers. Needless to say, this little meeting did not go well.

    The best part was when I was trying to make nice conversation and I asked Lisa what she had been up to. "Oh, I just did a 'Murder She Wrote' last week. It was really fun."

    At which point Beth perked up and said "Murder She Wrote??? Murder She Wrote??? Why would you be on that?"

    Lisa was flummoxed and stammered a bit, until Beth broke in with "It's like mysteries for GERIATRICS. God, my MOM watches that!"

    I was embarrassed but it was pretty funny.

    So I guess since you're a Mom you qualify as a bona fide fan? :)