I’m not one to back down from a challenge. When a movie trailer describes the film as “unforgettable,” I think, “Don’t tell ME what I can’t forget!” And I put all my effort into forgetting it, and sure enough, soon I’ve forgotten everything, including where I parked. I’ll show them.
I was similarly riled last week, when NBC was daring viewers not to cry during Wednesday’s Very Special Episode of “Days of Our Lives.” The network went so far as to get Kleenex to be the primary sponsor of the episode. (I’m not making that up.) I decided to take the challenge and watch the show as an experiment, to see whether it made me cry.
The reason this episode was Very Special was that Bo and Hope were handing their baby, J.T., back over to its real parents. What I didn’t know was why they had this baby in the first place if it wasn’t theirs. Had they found it in the bushes or something? I used our friend the Internet to post a query, asking if anyone knew the backstory. Then I got this e-mail from a friend:
“Bo and Hope had to give up their baby b/c it belonged to the biological father, the court ruled. Margo had a baby, that got switched with Hope’s, so Hope had Margo’s, which really belonged to Lexie, b/c Lexie had adopted it but then Margo died, which adds a whole new set of problems.”
Indeed. Now that I fully understood the situation, my friend Raymond Mohawk (names have been changed) and I sat down to watch a tape of the Very Special Episode and, if necessary, to sob like little girls.
Immediately, I had a flood of old “Days of Our Lives” memories. I watched the show in 1987-88, when Salem was bedeviled by the Riverfront Knifer, a serial killer who turned out to be a senator (go figure). This was also the era of Kayla Brady’s romance with Steven “Patch” Johnson, a one-eyed, scar-faced dirtbag who may well be the most unattractive leading man in soap opera history, except for the time when the star of “Guiding Light” was a melted Snickers bar.
As it turns out, the giving-up-J.T. episode was as stupid as most episodes of soap operas, Very Special or otherwise. Everyone stood around looking squintily at each other, making vague accusations and then pretending to like each other. We had to deal with Hope’s real son, Shawn-Douglas, who was born in 1987 but who is now 18. (Hope was born in 1974 but managed to be 23 in 1987, and is possibly even younger now, as she looks to be maybe five years older than Shawn-Douglas.) S.-D. was being very protective and bratty in regards to baby J.T., and he needed a smacking that no one ever gave him.
Also, we had to hear Bo offer awkward backstory dialogue, such as this declaration to his friend John Black: “You helped save Hope’s life, rescued her out of that burning building when we were in Europe.” I wish real people talked this way. I wish I could be having lunch with a friend and just casually say, “You did me a favor last month when I forgot to set the VCR to record ‘NYPD Blue’ and you taped it for me.” And my friend would say, “Yeah. What about it?” And I would say, “Nothing. Just that.”
(John Black, by the way, used to be named Roman Brady. But then the actor who USED to play Roman Brady wanted to come back to the show, so they had the new Roman Brady actor turn out not to have been Roman Brady all along, but John Black in disguise. I assume multiple Emmys were handed out as a result of this ingenuity.)
Raymond wondered if J.T.’s real parents would show up like Shelley Winters and her two filthy sons in “Pete’s Dragon,” singing, “We got a bill of sale right here … RIGHT HERE!” But there was no such luck. They just walked in and looked all apologetic and made Hope’s kinfolk load up the car with J.T.’s stuff. The characters all cried a lot — and reached for KleenexÂ® brand tissue — but Raymond and I managed to hold it together. Victory is mine, NBC. We’ll see how I do when Rachel has her baby on “Friends.”
This paragraph was omitted, and some minor things around it rewritten, due to space constraints:
"Since I have a job (really!), I had to tape "Days of Our Lives" and watch it later. This was good, because it meant I could skim through the 84,000,000 commercials for Kleenex and Huggies. Apparently, advertisers believe people who watch soap operas do nothing but cry and change diapers all day. (And who am I to argue, really?)"
I was surprised how easy it was to find information such as Shawn-Douglas' date of birth and what they called the serial killer in 1988. (I remembered the guy, but couldn't recall what his catchy nickname was.) There are many, many Web sites that keep track of old soap opera storylines, arranged by year and/or by character. Refreshing one's memory is a breeze.
The name Raymond Mohawk is the friend in question's porn-star name, where you take your middle name and combine it with the name of the street you grew up on. (Mine is David Adobe, by the way.) Raymond Mohawk is the best porn name I've ever heard, and I've remembered it since he first mentioned it several years ago.