When I was a kid, my brother and I used to stay up ludicrously on Fridays at our dad’s house, watching all the late-nite television our mom wouldn’t let us watch because it was “way past our bedtime.” She meant well, of course, and we never faulted her for our eight o’clock lights out, but . . . staying up till well beyond ten to watch Friends and Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a treat I remember fondly. By the time the M*A*S*H theme song poured pleasantly from the T.V.’s boxy built-in speakers (circa 1998), we knew all the good shows were over and there would be nothing good to watch until cartoons the following morning at 7am. I hated it when that theme song started to play (Suicide is Painless by Johnny Mandel and Mike Altman, if you’ve been living under an iPhone-shaped rock for the last decade); it meant it was time to actually go bed.
M*A*S*H became a sudden and surprisingly dear friend to me as I reached my twenties. Somehow (honestly, I have no idea how it happened), I developed a rather intense fondness for things that existed long before I did. Dean Martin was (and still is) my favorite singer. On the Waterfront (starring Marlon Brando and the then-newcomer Eva Marie Saint) was (and still is) my favorite film, and television shows from the 1950s-1980s became my bread and butter. I watched Hawkeye suffer through eleven years of the historically three-year Korean War, making and losing friends, but never departing from his shockingly poignant sense of humor and delightfully acerbic sarcasm. I grew with Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan as she journeyed from self-centered insecure tart to beautifully confidant woman who wanted more in her life than the men who tried to define her. And I became almost positive that Colonel Sherman T. Potter, with his “horse hockey” bumpkin euphemisms and “back in my day” stories, truly was my long lost grandfather (I cried my eyes out the day Harry Morgan passed away).
I have to pause in my writing here to heave tremendous sigh of nostalgia.
As I continue to grow in my own life, I take with me these dear characters who so often reminded me of not only my family members, but also myself. I intend to keep Hawkeye’s humor close at hand, and I will never stop quoting obscure M*A*S*H lines that no one ever recognizes. B.J. Hunnicutt will always be far superior to Trapper John (yes, even though Trapper is OG). Major Charles Emerson Winchester III will always be my intellectual idol (he’s also way better than Frank, in case you were wondering). Klinger will always be my fashion icon. And I will never ever live in the present when the past is so much more colorful. You can’t make me.
Also Millennials suck.