Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Here is a fact about my secret past when I was in junior high and deeply uncool: I used to get strep throat an abnormal amount. So much so that my doctor used to swab my throat, look up with a concerned/grossed out expression on his face, and say, "And she hasn't had her tonsils out." Nope, never.

Here's another fact: when I used to have bouts of strep throat, and had to stay home for days and days and days on end while the penicillin worked its bitter magic (oh penicillin! bitter and yet so efficacious!), I watched the soaps.

I was a fan, mainly, of such soaps as The Edge of Night and Days of Our Lives. Of course, I can't remember a thing about them. What I do remember is that you could get away with watching these programs about once every two or two and a half months and not miss a beat, that's how slowly they eked out the narrative. It's like if those stories were constructed out of atoms of narrative, it would take them two years to put together a complex molecule. But that was cool, since I was wracked with fever and pretty much incoherent for at least the first two days of The Sick, so I couldn't have handled much more narrative than that. Sometimes I would ask my mom for a little tip or two as to why this or that bejeweled heiress was behaving in such a bizarre way, but mostly I could hold my own.

I can't remember if I was not allowed to watch Dark Shadows, or if I was just too nervous to ask. Maybe both. Anyway, I got through my strep phase (although there was one brutal bout of it my junior year in high school, where I was out of school for two full weeks and came back a svelter, practically tubercular version of myself, boy howdy!), and I really didn't watch soaps after that. Until now.

Now, as I lay upon my bed of affliction (who knows what rude virus/bacterium has lodged itself in my sinuses?), I watch Downton Abbey (so sorry I cannot seem to stop myself talking about this by the way you can follow a discussion about it! on Slate! (work your way backward)). And Glee, though I am predictably behind the curve here--everyone is so over Glee, whereas I am in a protracted rapture about it, swooning over it and crying at the heartbreak and majesty of the teenage-ness of it all. And, frankly, The Good Wife, which is So. Great. it cannot fully be expressed words. It started out great and has never yet let us down.

These stories are practically sprinters compared to the daily soaps of old. They leap lightly from day to season to year and much has to be inferred by the canny viewer, who perhaps is not at her best at the moment, fighting off the viruses/bacteria of wintertime. However, she laughed, she cried, she drank her tea, and also watched the Jazz win. Is it The Sick that gives her courage to watch whole games now, as opposed to giving fearful glances at the screen? Who can say? She shall not stay sick forever: and the narratives will be parsed and discussed, and the Jazz will (knock wood cross fingers) keep winning, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.

p.s. Read this.


  1. I hate to admit it, but I'm having a hard time warming to Downton. Which is a surprise because usually I'm an easy mark for all things Masterpiece, British, costume drama. Too soapy? I don't know.
    Mostly I hope all manner of you are well again soon, HT.

  2. I felt a deep kinship to you when reading this. I, too had strep almost every fall when I was in school; I must have gone through five bottles of cherry chloraseptic spray. And once, one of those bouts coincided with my sister also being sick, so we got super-absorbed with Guiding Light for the time it took us to get well. I am also completely hooked on Downton Abbey.

    P.S. My word verification: Amish.

  3. Downtown Abbey=Awesome



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