Season 3 Narrations

(Ep 24 - "Summer Song")

By the end of that summer of nineteen-sixty nine...a lot of things had changed. The Mets were headed for first-place. Woodstock was a household word. And Winnie Cooper's dad had moved to Chicago. And it wasn't over yet. The traditional Arnold family vacation. What I loved about our vacations...was that it always seemed to rekindle this wonderful sense of family-togetherness.

When you're thirteen, it's a long way to Albuquerque. Teri told me about getting her learner's permit, and taking her first drive with a stick-shift. She wrote of our night at the beach. She told me she missed me so much that she cried herself to sleep at night. And she promised to write to me, until we saw each other again. I keep that letter in an old shoebox. It was the only letter she ever wrote me.

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(Ep 25 - "Math Class")

The transition from summer to fall is a tricky one. Like astronauts returning from space...we had to re-enter the atmosphere of school carefully, so the sudden change in pressure wouldn't kill us. Still, the beginning of eighth grade looked like it was gonna be a smooth landing. We weren't the lowest men on the totem pole anymore. We were men...among seventh-grade boys. More importantly, we were men among seventh-grade girls. In social-studies, we talked about Woodstock. In gym, we were introduced to the obvious. In French...Mrs. Martinson showed us slides from her trip to Paris. Yep - everything was looking A-OK. All systems "go". Until fourth period.
MR. COLLINS: Take your seats and open your unit one. Page sixteen. We will begin...with the introduction to variables.
KEVIN: Who is this guy?
MR. COLLINS: My name is Mr. Collins. If we use a symbol, such as "X" to represent the unspecified member of the set...
So much for introductions.
MR. COLLINS: In a Venn diagram..."S" is the replacement symbol for the variable "X".
We'd never seen anything like him. He was a math machine. All math...all the time. With the chalk marks to prove it.

I felt lost. I felt confused. I felt alone. There are times in life when you think you're lost. When every turn you take seems wrong. Then, just for a see a light. And so I began that long climb into the light. Only this time...I wasn't alone.

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(Ep 26 - "Wayne On Wheels")

Once upon a time, I lived in a great big house. With a great big yard, and a great big bedroom. And a great big older brother. But by the middle of nineteen-sixty-nine, the house and the yard and the bedroom were are all getting...smaller. Or maybe Wayne and I were getting larger. One thing was certain. We were running out of room. The pressure was building. Then, just when things seemed near the point of no-return...something happened. Something unexpected. Something...terrifying.
(Wayne turns the car sharply into the driveway, and screeches to a stop. Jack is in the passenger seat.)
JACK: Dammit, Wayne! (Frowns.)
WAYNE: I had my blinker on. (Smiles.)
PAUL: I don't believe this! Wayne is driving?
KEVIN: Yeah. He got his learner's permit yesterday.
JACK: OK, Wayne. Slower this time.
WAYNE: Gotcha. (Smiles.)
PAUL: Man - clear the streets! He's a menace!
Maybe that was true...but I couldn't be bothered with the overall threat to society. The fact is, this was the solution I'd been praying for. Simply stated, Wayne on wheels meant just one thing. Wayne - out of my life!

As we drove home in silence...we began to realize the absurdity of our situation. We were two people, with almost nothing in common...thrown together by circumstance. The harder we struggled against that fact, the more tightly we were bound together. That night, the gap between thirteen and a little smaller. I didn't make it back to the mall for several weeks. Somehow I just didn't feel like gettin' in a car. As for Wayne and me...we'd reached a new understanding. We didn't have to be friends or anything. But we'd always be brothers.

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(Ep 27 - "Mom Wars")

When you're a little boy, you don't have to go very far to find the center of your universe. Mom. She's always there. It's a pretty good arrangement - when you're five. But around age thirteen, there starts to be...a problem.
NORMA: Kevin?
KEVIN: Mom, I'm in the bathroom!
The problem is...she's always there. And I mean always. Now a mom has to be a mom, but a guy's gotta be a guy. And when an irresistible force meets an immovable object, sooner or later...something's gotta give.

NORMA: Kevin, are you hurt?! (Frowns.)
I wanted to answer "yes", that I was hurt. That I needed comfort.
KEVIN: No, Mom. I'm OK.
And I knew she wanted to comfort me - make everything better.
NORMA: Well, there's some iodine in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. Gauze, if you need something to wrap it in.
KEVIN: In the medicine cabinet?
NORMA: Mm-hmmm. (Nods.)
Every war has its casualties, and every victory its price. But life goes on. Nothing really changed that night - nothing big, anyway. Just a very little piece of something that was never gonna be the same. Not ever. The thing is, it's hard to tie a bandage with just one hand. Sooner or later, learn.

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(Ep 28 - "On the Spot")

Robert F. Kennedy Junior High had a long proud theatrical tradition. Who could forget Scotty Gruenwald's tortured John Proctor in "The Crucible"? Or Tony Faranucci's towering Tevya in "Fiddler on the Roof"? Sure, it wasn't Broadway. But for many of us...the excitement of opening night brought out one undeniable feeling. Total apathy.

Great. Paul had been stricken with the world's first documented case of back-stage fright. And I had to pick up the the dark. I didn't even know how this thing worked! It was horrible. I could feel my ears starting to sweat. It was humiliating. I wanted to just walk away. But then...
WINNIE (as Emily): I can't Lois. I've got to go home and help my mother. I promised.
Then I realized I couldn't walk away.
MR: WEBB: Emily! Walk simply. Who do you think you are, today?
WINNIE (as Emily): Papa, you're terrible! One minute you tell me to stand up straight, and the next minute you call me names. I just don't listen to you.
MR. WEBB: Golly - I never got a kiss from such a great lady before.
She looked beautiful. And terrified. And I knew she needed me. Those next few minutes seemed to last a thousand years. Every moment was potential disaster.
WINNIE (as Emily): Why can't I stay for awhile - just as I am?
We were both struggling.
WINNIE (as Emily): Don't you remember what you used to say? All the time you used to say...
And then, a weird thing happened. I was holding the light on Winnie, when everything got very quiet. And I felt something. I don't know what it was. I felt like I was holding her up with that light. That we were connected by the light. And I wouldn't let her fall.
KEVIN: Come on. Just keep goin'.
WINNIE (as Emily): That I was your girl. There must be a lot of places we can go. I'll work for you - I can keep a house!
No matter what - I wouldn' let her fall.
WINNIE (as Emily): Oh, mama - just look at me for a moment, as if you really saw me.
That night I learned something. About courage...and maybe about love.

I couldn't exactly say we made theater history that autumn evening...maybe we weren't even very good. The thing is, it didn't matter. We made it through. And the critics were kind. And a week later...Mr. Cooper moved back in with his family.

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(Ep 29 - "Odd Man Out")

The best part of having a best friend is knowing someone really understands you. Paul Pfeiffer and I shared more than just the laughs and the Oreos. We shared confidences. In a lot of ways, Paul knew me better than I knew myself. And he wouldn't hesitate to remind me if I ever forgot. It was a tried-and-true relationship. But like all relationships...sometimes it got a little...stale.

Well, there ya had it. Poor Doug - I'd let him down. I could almost see him...alone in his room...trying to figure out what he'd done wrong. Lamenting his fate. Or, having the time of his life with Brady Ryland. As I stood outside that window, I watched the easy give-and-take of two new friends. And I realized something. Doug Porter was no longer the odd man out. It was me. But I guess in a way we're all odd men out. Until we find a match that makes us even. Someone who challenges us to be our best. Someone who understands us. Even at our worst. I was beginning to appreciate how rare a thing that was. I wanted to tell him I was a better person for knowing him. That I hoped our friendship would endure the trials of a lifetime. But...I knew he understood.

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(Ep 30 - "The Family Car")

Where I grew up, there was one time-honored event that united families. And brought neighbor together with neighbor. The arrival of a new car. There was something magical about it. Kinda like a one-float parade. For one shining moment, the proud owner became king...of the block. Yep, no doubt about our neighborhood, ownership had its privileges. Except, of the Arnold household. At the Arnold household, ownership meant...repairs.

And so, we finally got our new car. It wasn't red, it wasn't a convertible...heck, it wasn't even a Mustang. But it was brand-new. And it was pretty cool. Course...Dad got his shot at king-for-a-day...and we were happy for him. But that afternoon, I began to understand what Dad had being going through. There was more to that old car than fuel pumps and crankshafts. There was part of all of us in that car. The places we'd gone, the things we'd done...the family we had been. The family that was moving on. And for the first time...I understood the value of what my Dad had put into it. And why it was so hard to let it go.

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(Ep 31 - "The Pimple")

Growing up in the suburbs, in the '60's, you were pretty much sheltered from the forces of change unleashed by the outside world. But what about the forces of change unleashed from within? Change. Not always a pretty sight. In fact, it could get pretty ugly. But that was the stuff that movies were made of. That wasn't the real world. Or was it?

NORMA: Well, here he is! (Smiles.)
Step right up folks. Behold the freak of nature. Not for the faint-hearted. Then in a flash, all of my insecurities flew away. I saw beauty. I saw grandeur. I saw...
(The camera zooms in very close on a zit on Gina's forehead.)
It was twice as big as the one on my cheek! It was purple mountains majesty. Two pimples passing in the night. I guess what I was finding out was that when things change, it doesn't mean the end of the world. As a matter of fact, sometimes it could work out for the best. The Pruitt's left town a few days later. And so did the pimple. And I began to come to grips with the fact that on the uncertain road through adolescence, there were bound to be a few bumps along the way.

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(Ep 32 - "Math Class")

Every kid needs a hero - everybody knows that. They teach us about courage...about ideals...about life. Sometimes heroes are easy to spot. But sometimes...they turn up in unlikely places.

I began to realize that with the curve, if I'd just stayed put, then my "C" could have been a "B". A real "B". One that I earned. The funny thing is, McCormick and the others had paid their price, while I was left alone. With nothing but my conscience...staring me in the face.
(In the empty math classroom.)
This wasn't going to be easy.
KEVIN: Mr. Collins?
MR. COLLINS: Had enough?
MR. COLLINS: Every problem has its own solution, Mr. Arnold.
So, it was back to long hours, hard work, and respectable "C"'s. It felt good. As for why Collins had singled me out, I could only guess. But the man had said, every problem contains its own solution. So, I guess he'd wanted me to solve this one...on my own.

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(Ep 33 - "Rock 'n Roll")

On February ninth, nineteen-sixty-four...something happened that changed the course of American history. Seventy-three million people sat in front of their TV sets...and looked into the future. It was exciting. We'd never seen anything like it. Of course I was only eight years old at the time...but in those flickering images, I sensed a new era had been born...a seed had been planted...a dream that would someday lead me from John, Paul, George and that guy. The first time I laid eyes on Larry Beeman, I knew I was looking at someone...different.

The Electric Shoes broke up a week later. And for a time, there was talk of a reunion...but it never happened. Still, that dream never really died. What we felt in those years...the hope, the joy, the possibilities...the sense that anything might happen - no matter who we were...will always be a part of us. After all, people said the Beatles would never last. And they were right. Except, of course...they did.

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(Ep 34 - "Don't You Know Anything About Woman?")

In the game of life, there are few certainties. In fact, most things are left to chance. There's someone for everyone, we're told. But the search for that one person to ride through life beside is serious business. Especially when you're thirteen. It's a matter of trial, error...and pure dumb luck.

It was the first heart I'd ever broken. And in a way, my own heart was aching a little, too. It didn't seem...fair. I really liked Linda, but the fact was...I just didn't feel about her the way Susan Fisher felt about...Donald Wallach. Maybe she'd just been toying with me, or maybe she used me to get back with Donald. In any event, it was pretty clear...Paul wasn't the only one who had been fooling himself. All our young lives we search for someone to love. Someone who makes us complete. We choose partners, and change partners. We dance to a song of heartbreak, and hope. All the while wondering if somewhere, somehow, there's someone perfect...who might be searching for us.

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(Ep 35 - "The Powers That Be")

In every American family there exists a chain of command. From the pawn...through the established the lord and master of all things great and small. But one week out of the year, a force would blow into town that even my father could not control. Grampa Arnold. Within minutes of grampa's father would find some household chore to keep him busy until Gramps pulled out again. Not that I understood exactly why...

KEVIN: I don't want it.
And I didn't. I was sick of that puppy. I was tired of being a pawn.
KEVIN: First you tell me I can't have a dog - then you tell me I should keep it! (Gestures.) What about my decision? (Frowns.) Doesn't it count?
JACK: Course it counts. (Smiles.)
KEVIN: Well, you sure don't act like it!
(Jack laughs softly.)
KEVIN: What's so funny?
JACK: You remind me of someone I know...I dunno, I guess it runs in the family. I hope you decide to keep it, Kev. I think we need a dog. (Nods) You, me, gramps...I think we need to do this.
And for some reason, maybe the way he said it, I began to understand. He wasn't giving me an order. My dad...was asking me...for help. That morning, as I stood with the man who was my father...the son of my grandfather, the man who would one day be the grandfather of my son's...I realized something. That not all gifts are simple. That some battles are fought out of love.

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(Ep 36 - "She, My Friend, and I")

Around the end of nineteen-sixty nine, a funny thing happened. Nineteen-seventy. Not that anyone was paying much attention. Still, with the new decade on the books...maybe it was time to heal old wounds. Get over old hurts. It was possible. After all...I'd gotten over Winnie Cooper. Yep. Winnie and I were friends, now. That incredible smile. The way she tossed her hair. The heart-stopping lilt of her perfume...I was over that. Really!

I hadn't noticed what a beautiful night it was. Lit by starlight...the world smelled clear and clean. For a minute, I didn't feel like a kid anymore. For the first time in along time...I felt young. It all made sense, now. I loved Winnie Cooper. And she loved me.
KEVIN: Winnie? I just want you to know that I know that...(smiles)...I know. (Nods.) You don't have to say anything. I just wanted you to know...that I know. OK? (Smiles.)
WINNIE: Know what? (Frowns.)
KEVIN: Winnie! (Smiles.) Paul told me! And I'm glad he did -
WINNIE: Paul told you? (Frowns.)
KEVIN: Well, yeah! Isn't that great?! (Smiles.)
WINNIE: Paul told you?! (Frowns.)
KEVIN: He says you're crazy about me! (Smiles.)
(Winnie slams the door closed.)

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(Ep 37 - "St. Valentine's Day Massacre")

Oh, Once upon a time, it was...simple. If you liked somebody, you let 'em know. And if you didn' let 'em know. One way or another, you knew where you stood. But as you get older, communication gets more...complicated. Let me explain that. See, I knew Winnie was crazy about me. She'd said so to Paul. But for some reason, now, she was having trouble saying exactly how she felt.
WINNIE: You're rude, insensitive, thoughtless, and smug! (Exits.)
There! See what I mean?
KEVIN: She didn't really mean it. Did she?
PAUL: Don't ask me - I got problems of my own. Carla! (Exits.)
Things were grim. Paul and I had been set adrift in a leaky boat on the sea of love...or something like that.

(Kevin holds a mangled valentine.)
KEVIN: This is yours.
WINNIE: I don't have one for you.
KEVIN: That's OK. (Shrugs.) We can share this one. (Smiles.)
There was only one thing more to say. The simple thing...the brave thing, the thing that was in both our hearts.
KEVIN: for our history test?
WINNIE: Sure. (Smiles.)
Face it. We were a long way from kindergarten. And maybe we were learning...that speaking from the heart isn't always easy. That afternoon, Winnie and I chose to leave those words hanging warm and unspoken in the winter air between us. But I think we both knew they were there...and we would get to them someday. The thing is, we just didn't have to hurry anymore.

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(Ep 38 - "The Treehouse")

In junior high school...looks mean a lot. There's the look of love. The look of rejection. The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. But there was one look that was different. A once-in-a-lifetime look. The look that said that things would never be the same again.
KEVIN: Doug? Doug? You OK?
One glance at a face like that, and you knew...
PAUL: Oh, man...when did it happen?
DOUG: Last night.
KEVIN: Was it your dad?
PAUL: He gave you..."The Talk".
"The Talk". The old birds and bees.
DOUG: I actually had to listen to my father say - "genitals".
KEVIN & PAUL: Ahhhh!
It was horrible...too horrible to contemplate. Thw worst thing was, no one was immune. It could strike any time, any where. The fatal communication.

JACK: Uh, Norma, the footing up here is a little tricky.
KEVIN: Yeah - It's not all nailed off! You don't want to fall!
NORMA: Oh, don't be silly. It feels sturdy to me! Oh! And just look at this view!
JACK: Yeah!
NORMA: Excuse me! Oh.
Now at that moment, it's possible a simple explanation would have helped. But of course...we couldn't talk about it at all.
(Norma sees the singing neighbor.)
NORMA: Oh. Well, I should start dinner. (Exits.)
And that was that. We'd been accused, tried, and convicted. And suddenly I had an awful feeling that I knew what that sentence would be.
JACK: Son...we have to talk. (Nods.)
There was no escape. It had come down to this. "The Talk".
JACK: Son...I think you're too old for a treehouse.
JACK: I'm goin' inside.
My father and I never had the talk. And we never finished the treehouse. I guess some things between fathers and sons are left unspoken, and unfinished. And for years after that, my mother could never say the word "tomato", without giving my dad a funny look.

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(Ep 39 - "Glee Club")

The halls of RFK junior high often echoed with the sounds of music. The Kennedy Chorale. The Kennedy Madrigals. And of course, the Kennedy Now-Tones. They were all part of a long-standing family of song. But, as with every family, there was a skeleton in the closet. The boys' eigth-grade glee club. The singing group from hell.
MR. FRACE: Oh, boy...(Frowns.)
Twice a week, we transformed Mr. Frace's choir-room into kind of a chamber of musical horrors.
MR. FRACE: Oh, my gosh. (Frowns.)
Randy Mitchell - baritone. Doug Porter - monotone. Paul Pfeiffer - no tone at all. And of Not that we didn't have heart. It's just that the thirteen-year-old-male voice isn't exactly designed for...well...for singing.
MR. FRACE: Hold that note. Hold that note.
We weren't the stuff tabernacle choirs are made of. So, out of a mutual respect for the arts...and humanity...we'd reached an agreement. We wouldn't push Mr. Frace...if he wouldn't push us.
MR. FRACE: Awright, awright...(gestures)...that's enough! Just, uh...(gestures)...get out your books and study. (Nods.)
All in all...a pretty equitable arrangement.

It was...cruel. Before our very eyes, Warren had transformed from lyric
WARREN: Awwwkk.
Well...a bullfrog. So the rest of us did the only thing we could. We panicked. But the die was cast. Paul sneezed, which was too much for Doug. Somebody laughed. And I dropped my music. It was kind of a chain reaction. I'd like to say we rallied, but...we didn't. It was no one's fault, really. I guess we'd just been pushed beyond our limits. We we're a bunch of eigth-grade boys. Not an ensemble of stout-hearted men. As for Miss Haycock...she'd dreamed of molding us into something we weren't.
(Miss Haycock walks off stage, slightly stunned.)
But that night...she got her wake-up call. The only problem was...she wasn't there to answer it. We never found out where Miss Haycock disappeared to, although some said she'd gone back to college. Still, I like to think that - where ever she is...there's a warm spot in her heart for the eight-grade boys' glee club. After all, we'd learned from her, and in a way...she'd learned from us. We'd learned together. Or so I like to tell myself.

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(Ep 40 - "Night Out")

Everyone knows what happens when you fall in love. You hold each other close, you kiss, and live happily ever after. For Winnie Cooper and me, "happily ever after" had arrived. After years of waiting...we were ready to face the future, together. Passing notes in class...sharing Tater-tots at lunch...being a couple. It was all kinda...wonderful. Course, in eighth-grade, part of being a couple is doing what other couples do, even if it was, well, kinda stupid. And so long as we had each other, we were ready for anything. Well, almost anything. Anything, but -
(Cut to the cafeteria.)
ROBBIE: You guys want to come to a little party?
Robbie Hudson. RFK's answer to Hugh Hefner. When Robbie spoke, everybody listened.
ROBBIE HUDSON: My house. Friday.
ROBBIE: Hey! You guys are the new couples in school. And my parties are couples-only. What do you say?
You have to understand...this guy was no ordinary ninth-grader. His parties made reputations.

Everyone knows what happens after you've said you're going to a Robbie Hudson make-out party.
(Winnie walks onto the bus, leaving Kevin on the sidewalk.)
You kinda stop talking to each other.
(Fade to the cafeteria. Winnie is talking only to Becky and Craig.)
Winnie and I were still a couple. The funny thing is, even though we were as close as ever...
(Fade to class. Kevin holds a note out.)
KEVIN: Winnie!
(She ignores him. He frowns and crumples up the note.)
We'd never been so far apart.
(Fade to evening as Kevin walks up to Winnie's door.)
Still, we were going to that party. It was...expected of us. And really, what was the big deal? It's not like there was anything to feel guilty about, here.
(Fantasy scene as Mr. Cooper opens the door.)
KEVIN: Hi Mr. Coop-
(Mr. Cooper picks up Kevin and shakes him.)
MR. COOPER: So, I hear you taking my little Gwendolyn to a make-out party! Arggggh!
(Reality as Mr. Cooper opens the door and smiles.)
MR. COOPER: Evening, Kevin!
KEVIN: Hi, Mr. Cooper.
She looked so beautiful I wanted to kiss her. Until I remembered I had to.
MR. COOPER: Ahem. Hadn't you two...better get started?
KEVIN: Oh...yeah. (Smiles nervously.)
WINNIE: Bye, Daddy!
MR. COOPER: Have a nice time.
Easy for him to say. Well nothing to do but - get through this with our dignity intact.
("Execution march drums" as Kevin and Winnie walk toward the sidewalk. Each has their hands together in front of them.)
Uh-huh! It was kinda like going to an execution, or a funeral, or...
(Cut to Robbie Hudson's well-behaved basement party. "Hang On, Sloopy" plays.)
A church social. This was what we'd been worrying about?

And suddenly, the pressure was gone. Suddenly, Winnie and I were just having fun. We were a couple again. This was like every other eigth-grade party we'd ever been to. With cookies...and punch. And Twister, and -
(Robbie flips off the lights. The music grinds to a halt. Kevin looks at Winnie nervously.)
Total darkness!
ROBBIE: Party time!
I kept hoping a fuse had blown, especially when I saw that -
(Robbie shines a flashlight in his own face.)
ROBBIE: Spotlight!
But something told me this was no electrical problem.
ROBBIE: Round and round she goes, where she stops - nobody knows. Let see, now - who's it gonna be? Let'see now. Who's it gonna be?
KEVIN: You thirsty?
KEVIN: I think there's some water upstairs.
ROBBIE: Bingo!
(Kevin and Winnie are caught in the light and both look worried.)
Funny, I'd never won anything before in my life.
ROBBIE: Arnold and Cooper! You know the rules...into the make-out room! Come on, guys. This heaven.
And suddenly Winnie was holding my hand so could only mean one thing.
KEVIN: Do you...?

(In the make-out room, both look around uncomfortably.)
Well, this was...nice. Kinda like - waiting for a bus.
KEVIN: Music's nice!
ROBBIE: Come on, guys! Don't take all night!
I kept thinking that this was no big deal. That if we really belonged together, one of us would make the first move. And then she did.
(Winnie gets up and hurries out. Kevin follows her to the doorway and watches her leave. Everyone looks at him, as Hudson shines the flashlight on his face.)
Everyone was watching. I had to say something clever.
KEVIN: I guess my kisses have that effect on her.

(Later that night, Winnie has come to see Kevin. That are at a park.)
I guess I knew what was gonna happen - she was gonna tell me she hated me.
WINNIE: You must really hate me!
KEVIN: What?!
WINNIE: For making you go to that party!
KEVIN: Well...
WINNIE: I hated being in there with you.
KEVIN: I know.
WINNIE: It was awful.
KEVIN: Then why'd you go with me?! Look, Winnie, let's just make it easy on ourselves. I mean there's no sense in -
WINNIE: I really hated it.
KEVIN: Winnie, why are you saying this?
Not that I really had to ask - it was all pretty clear now.
WINNIE: Because you're my boyfriend.
WINNIE: Who else am I gonna say it to?
Well, there was a certain logic to that.
KEVIN: So I'm your boyfriend. hated being there with me. Do I have that right?
(Winnie nods.)
KEVIN: And you hated being there with me, because you didn't want to kiss me. Do I have that right?
(Winnie nods again.)
WINNIE: I did want to kiss you. (Shrugs.) Just not then.
KEVIN: Well then when?!
I guess maybe that's when I first realized...that love was gonna be much more complicated. And much...more simple...
(They kiss.)
Than I'd ever dreamed.

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(Ep 41 - "Faith")

Once upon a time, our country was founded Faith in all its forms. But during the late nineteen-sixties, people began looking heavenward for new answers to old questions. The bravest among us journeyed into the unknown. While the rest of us stood by with our support. Our goodwill. And of course...
JACK: Damn!
Our taxes.

As I looked at that blank page, I knew that whatever I wrote would be a lie - or at best, a wild guess. It didn't matter. Whatever life lay ahead of me - a life of hope, of possibility, of uncertainty - I felt sure I knew what it would take to survive. I guess what I'm saying is...for the first time, I understood that some things are bigger than death and taxes. Like family. Like faith. I could only hope Miss Stebbins would understand, too.
NORMA: Hmmm?
KEVIN: Do you think the astronauts will get home?
NORMA: I don't know, Kevin.

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(Ep 42 - "The Unnatural")

There's a dream that's as old as natural grass, and nickel hot dogs...and being young. It's a dream every kid shares. The one big moment. Hero time. Of course, when you're five...that dream doesn't seem out of reach. Everyone plays the game about the same. Bad. Still, for all your've got the one thing that matters most. Potential. springtime rolls into fall, and Little League gives way to summer jobs...somehow the dream gets left behind.

As I stepped back up to the plate...all the cares, all the worries, all the burdens I'd carried around for the past few days just disappeared. Suddenly, the outside world fell away. It was just me. And baseball. My moment had arrived. And I knew what I had to do. I'm not sure how I did it. My memory begins with the crack of the bat. And the sight of the ball rising...Maybe that's not exactly the way it happened...but that's the way it should have happened. And that's the way I'd like to remember it. And if dreams and memories sometimes get confused, well...that's as it should be. Because every kid deserves to be a hero.

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(Ep 43 - "Goodbye")

Teachers never die. They live in your memory forever. They were there when you arrived, they were there when you left. Like fixtures. Once in a while they taught you something. But not that often. And, you never really knew them, any more than they knew you. Still, for awhile, you believed in them. And, if you were lucky, maybe there was one who believed in you.

MR. DIPERNA: Apparently, Mr. Collins graded these tests the weekend that, uh...well, in any event, it seems yours was misplaced.
KEVIN: Oh...
MR. DIPERNA: The question now is what do we do about it. You need a grade. Do you have any suggestions?
KEVIN: No, sir.
MR. DIPERNA: Well...Collins did.
(Mr. Diperna holds up a blank test, with Kevin's name on it.)
MR. DIPERNA: Fifty minutes, Arnold. You may begin.
As I took that test, I thought about...a lot of things. About how I knew him, and yet, I didn't. About how he treated me like a man, and how I'd acted like a child. About how I let him down, and now I wouldn't. The thing is, even though I could almost feel him in the room, I knew I didn't need him for the answers - or the praise. I was on my own, now.
(Kevin finishes the test and hands it to Mr. Diperna.)
KEVIN: You don't have to grade it. It's an "A".
(Kevin walks toward the door.)
MR. COLLINS: Mr. Arnold.
(Kevin looks over his shoulder and sees Mr. Collins sitting at his desk, hands together, smiling toward Kevin.)
KEVIN: Good job, Mr. Collins.

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(Ep 44 - "Cocoa and Sympathy")

Every great act has its own routine. Delivery...timing...They take years to perfect. It takes hard work and practice. But once you've got it becomes second-nature. Routine.
KEVIN: Butthead!
WAYNE: Dorkface!
KAREN: Grow up!
Take my family. Please.
("Brrrp-pish!" of drums.)
Talk about routines...we had a million of 'em. Yep - we had 'em all. Timing, delivery...and of course, the best straight-man in the business. Good old mom. Uh-huh. You could always count on Norma Arnold to set up the punchlines. You had to hand it to her. Mom was perfect at the part. Like any great comedian.

And I guess there was something in the way she said it that made me understand...Mom wasn't breaking my heart...she was breaking Paul's. Without breaking it. And in that moment, I began to realize a lot of things. Maybe my mother didn't go to the concert with Paul because she thought he was special...but because he thought she was special. Special enough to ask more than..."where's my jersey", "what's for dinner", or...
JACK: Who took the TV guide? (Frowns.)
NORMA: Oh, try Wayne's room under his pillow...or maybe it's behind Karen's record-player.
JACK: It's supposed to stay on the - (gestures.)
NORMA: I know...
I guess Dad realized it, too.
JACK: So. You had a good time? (Smiles.)
NORMA: Uh-huh. (Nods.)
JACK: Yeah, well...isn't there supposed to be another one of these things?
NORMA: Next month...(Nods.)
JACK: Huh...(nods), uh...(shrugs)...we'll go.
NORMA: OK. (Smiles.)
JACK: OK. (Smiles.)
The night Paul Pfeiffer gave my mom a rose...he gave me something, too. He gave me a new way of seeing her. Paul made my mother feel good. Because he didn't look at her the way we always did. We saw "Mom". And he saw "Norma Arnold". And I think she liked that, for a change. That night I found out my mother once got sent to the principal's office for smoking in the bathroom. And that she almost married someone else, until she met my dad. I learned a lot about her - about who she was...about who she'd been...about who she wanted to be. And the next morning, she was "Mom" again. Our straight-man. Only, this time - I knew better.

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(Ep 45 - "Daddy's Little Girl")

From the moment a father first lays eyes on his daughter...she's forever daddy's little girl. And he's forever her hero. A giver of gifts. A granter of wishes. A knight in shining armor. And in return...she gives to him that love and respect which is special between dads and their girls. Of course, for my sister and my father...that special love and respect took the form of...guerrilla warfare. But the week of my sister's birthday...they brought out the heavy artillery. During that week, Mom was sort of like the UN...trying to mediate the warring factions. And failing miserably. Me? I was kinda like...Switzerland.

That night of my sister's eighteenth birthday...a lot of things happened. Maybe more than she knew. Because that night, when my father let Karen go out, he let Karen go. And maybe that's how it had to be - children leave...and parents stay behind. Still, some things are deeper than time and distance. And your father will always be your father. And he will always leave a light on for you.

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(Ep 46 - "Moving")

There was a time when the world was enormous...spanning the vast, almost infinite boundaries of...your neighborhood. The place where you grew up. Where you didn't think twice about playing on someone else's lawn. And the street was your territory...that occasionally got invaded by a passing car. It was where you didn't get called home until after it was dark. And all the people, and all the houses that surrounded you were as familiar as the things in your own room. And you knew they would never change.

I wasn't there when Winnie's moving van pulled away. I didn't want to be. I was with my family, which was changing, too. Things were gonna be different now. My sister would be off to college, my brother mom and dad would stay behind to fight the battle of dry-rot and crab grass, and growing older together. As for me? Well, I had my own distances to cover. Four miles - New York to Paris. The thing is, until Winnie left, everything in the world was outside my front door. But now, maybe the world would have to get a little bigger.

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01/01/05 13:35