By admin | October 12, 2006

Get ready for one hell of a shocker, kids. Braced?

I’ve never driven a car in my life. I’m 22, never did so in my teen years. Yes, I actually had my parents drive me wherever I needed to go and back in South Florida, that was mostly publicity screenings of films during the week when I wrote for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Teentime section. Nothing cooler than being able to sit in the roped-off press section with the daily newspaper and weekly alternative magazine critics. Some talked, some didn’t, but I loved being separate from that crowd waiting outside the theater’s entrance with passes won from a radio station contest.

Boy, that was one hell of a digression.

While I’ve not minded never driving before, I begrudgingly agreed to attend driving classes with my 17-year-old sister at an AAA facility in the Santa Clarita Valley of southern California. This also means I’m the oldest person in the room, with the exception of the instructor. So my Tuesday and Thursday nightlife from 6:30-8:30 p.m. is spent sitting in a classroom watching parts of a DVD on certain methods of driving, going through the questions and answers in the workbook and trying not to look completely bored. Truth is, I am. I know most of this is important but really, it doesn’t take me that long to absorb it. In Florida, the night before I took my permit test, I studied the guide they give you and I passed the test with only one answer wrong. Didn’t even bother to thumb through it many days prior. So when I glean something from this class, it only takes me one time and I know it.

Tonight was all about night driving and “emergency recovery,” i.e., how to recover from skidding. It was during the Emergency Recovery lesson that I spaced out for about two minutes. I’ve got a skill I’ve honed from years of sitting in my middle and high school classes. I can actually space out and make it look like I’m paying attention. I can still look at the teacher while he or she is talking (in this case, two “hes;” one on Tuesday and one on Thursday), let my eyes follow them if they’re prone to walking, and still not hear anything they’ve said.

So for those two minutes, I rummaged around in my mind and came up with a memory that would even shock John Larroquette.

I was 12 years old in 1996 and there was an episode of The John Larroquette Show where apparently, Betty White, Estelle Getty and Rue McClanahan guest-starred as themselves. This took some research on tv.com, but the episode was called “Here We Go Again,” and this was the plot:

“A parody of Sunset Boulevard, with Betty White as the Norma Desmond of TV who has written “Golden Girls: The Musical” and entices John into rewriting it, with Catherine as lyricist, and staging it in the bus terminal (with John press ganged into the role of Dorothy when Catherine (Alison La Placa) mysteriously goes missing).”

In the class tonight, I spaced out for two minutes over this, more specifically because of the only scene I remember where Betty White slowly descended the steps of the bus terminal saying, “I’m ready for my close-up…box,” obviously referencing TV Guide back then when they had a weekly close-up box on a performer with some information about them, or whatever they were up to. The other homages were obviously of Sunset Boulevard. But I didn’t know that at the time. I wasn’t as into movies then as I am now. I didn’t even know who Billy Wilder was.

But in thinking about that tonight, I was amused because now I understood the references, now I understood the homages and I may or may not have seen John Larroquette in drag in that episode. I’m not sure.

So now I ask you. Are there any memories you remember when you were young of shows you saw on TV that made reference to a movie or another aspect of pop culture that you didn’t “get” then but you do now?

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  1. Gigi says:

    “Whatever baby wants, baby gets.”

    Rabbit Sammich! 😀

  2. I hated my family too much not to drive the second I turned 16. I bought myself (I actually worked motherfuckers) a 1985 Dodge Charger (it was f*****g GOLD!) for $500. It was the best times of my life. I was never home from then on, and I bounced the f**k up on out of my house two days after I graduated high school.

    There is a part of me that wishes I never moved out or started driving. Paying bills suck. But, at least I don’t live at home. And I can get drunk a lot and juggle at 4 in morning.

  3. Felix Vasquez Jr. says:

    “Whatever baby wants, baby gets.”

  4. Gigi says:

    I think of Looney Tunes and all the WWII references..buy bonds etc. And cameos of people like Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. I always loved Bugs Bunny et al, but now they are even more grand.

  5. Felix Vasquez Jr. says:

    THe Simpsons.

    My favorite show of all time, but when I was young and the show started, I was watching it because it was a cartoon, and I thought the physical comedy was great.

    When I grew older I understood the in-jokes, subtle humor, and pop culture references (Spinal Tap for one) which made the show much better.

  6. Phil Hall says:

    I started watching Monty Python when they first came to American TV in the early 1970s. I was in elementary school at the time, so a lot of the cultural and historic references that were cited meant little to me as a nine-year-old viewer (I was hooked by the broad comedy rather than the subversive cerebralism). Returning to the episodes years later, I felt like I was discovering them anew.

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