The Middle Child

I am the middle child, which is like being the anti-only child. All of my parents’ attention went towards my older brother and younger sister. They never had any expectations from me as a child, which left me to discover the world on my own. Well, under the close supervision of my dad and the isolation of the bland suburbs, that is. The outside world as I came to know it came through the television. That bright beam of hope that triggered my imagination. My dad was very strict about our TV watching, however. Love and displays of affection were strictly out of the question. ‘Fantasy Island’ and ‘The Love Boat’ were treated as X-rated under his roof. I couldn’t watch ‘Happy Days’ either because of the Fonz. Strutting around in a leather jacket on a motorcycle and walking into Al’s Diner with a girl on each arm was not considered proper behavior. ‘Mork and Mindy’ was banned too. A man and a woman who were not married living together? Romance on TV shows was acceptable, just as long as it was accompanied by guns. That’s why I was allowed to watch ‘Magnum P.I.’ and ‘CHiPs’ with my brother.

I was allowed only one hour of television a night, and I wanted to use every bit of it. With my father banning practically everything there was to watch, the only thing left was ‘Entertainment Tonight’. I was probably the only 10 year-old who knew who Soupy Sales and Milton Bearle were, as they were ‘ET’ favorites.