Season 5 Narrations

(Ep 70 - "The Lake")

Lake Wennahatchee...For one week that summer of nineteen-seventy-one, my family and Paul Pfeiffer's rented side-by-side cabins along its placid shores. It was a place to get away from the aggravations of modern suburban life...escape from the petty everyday competition. The kind of paradise that made you wish you could stay forever.

(Night at the lake).
CARA: Nice night.
KEVIN: Yeah.
And it was.
(Cut to day at the lake. Jack and Kevin walk toward the lake. Jack is loaded up with hip boots, nets and pails, and is whistling.)
Over the next few days, I did my best to be a good son to my dad. To my family.
CARA: (V/O): Hey, Kevin!
(Jack and Kevin turn toward Cara. She is standing in front of the truck, dressed in a red top, cut-offs, and hiking boots.)
But somehow, something kept calling me away.
KEVIN: I gotta go, Dad.
(Fade to on the road in the back of the truck.)
Cara and I had found something no two people had ever found before. Each other.
(Fade to the dock on the lake. Kevin and Cara standing on a dock as two people and a dog swim nearby.)
We talked about everything. Almost everything.
CARA: Will I see you tomorrow night?
KEVIN: Sure! (Smiles.) Of course. (Nods.)
Trouble was, I was running out of nights - and fast.

(At dinner.)
KEVIN: I can't stay, Dad.
JACK: Kevin! (Frowns.) Sit down!
JACK: Because I say so. And I'm your father.
There it was. My whole life, they'd been his final words.
KEVIN: I'm sorry. I'm goin'. (Exits).
(Fade to in the truck at the drive-in. Kevin and Cara sit in front of the truck, facing away from the movie.)
That night, huddled in that cab, we put the whole world behind us. I didn't know what would happen when I got home. It didn't matter.
(Cara adjusts the radio.)
CARA: You like this?
KEVIN: Sure...whatever. (Smiles.)
I had to be with Cara. I had to hold her. I just couldn't bring myself to tell her...I was leaving.

I wanted to stay there, in that night. More than anything I'd wanted before. But I knew I couldn't. I was fifteen. I slept under a roof my father owned, in a bed my father bought. Nothing was mine. Except my heart. And my fears. And my growing knowledge...that not every road was going to lead home, anymore.

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(Ep 71 - "Day One")

I remember it as clearly as if it were last night. It was the first day of school - I was late. I found the class and went in.
(Kevin stands in the open doorway, looking at another empty hallway.)
I began to panic. Maybe I'd come on the wrong day...maybe I'd come to the wrong place! Every time I would open the door, there was another hallway. I couldn't find the teachers - I couldn't find the students. And that's when it hit me. This was high school. And I...was completely...and utterly...alone.
(Fade to white, then opening credits.)
Nineteen-seventy-one. It was a crazy time. People were on the move...looking for answers...breaking new ground. Seemed like everyone was searching for a new identity. Me, I was breaking some ground of my own. That September I entered William McKinley senior high. I was looking forward to a new adventure. My only hope was they'd have something besides Jell-O for lunch. Everything was different. Mini's had become micro's. "Hippies" had turned into "heads". And some of us were on the road to political awareness. Kinda. But those weren't the only changes. My best friend Paul Pfeiffer was off to prep school. Which left me...completely on my own.

And I don't know, maybe it was all that talk about the Constitution. In any event, I'd made up my mind. It was time for a declaration of independence of my own.
(Kevin rips a page from his notebook. Mr. Bottner goes wacky.)
MR. BOTTNER: Who did that? It was you Arnold, wasn't it?
But sitting there...holding that paper, I just didn't care anymore. If I was alone, fine - I'd go it alone.
(Stuart and others rip out a page.)
Only suddenly...I wasn't. Maybe it was futile, maybe not. It really didn't matter. For that one moment, we'd found a common voice...a common bond, against a common enemy. And for that one moment, it was a sweet victory. That first week of high school, as I watched our class band together...I realized something about these strangers I'd just met. Strangers I hardly knew. Strangers who were just like me. We were all sharing the same feelings. The same fears, the same loneliness. We were just starting out, and there was only one direction to go. So we went - together.

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(Ep 72 - "The Hardware Store")

They say you never forget your first job. I know I remember mine. Harris' hardware store. Down the hill from where I lived. The year I started tenth grade. It was the kind of place you don't see much of anymore. Filled to the rafters with brackets, and bolts, and old screens. Ya know, stuff on the cutting-edge of obsolescence. It started as a summer job...but once school began, Mr. Harris cut back my hours so I could keep working. With the allowance Dad was paying me, I had no choice.

I felt him watching me. And somehow, I knew what he was thinking. How much I'd learned, how much he taught me. But I was fifteen. I lived in a world that was new and alive, and exciting. And everything here was old. Maybe it was stupid. That's also part of being fifteen. I traded in my tie for a stupid hat and a plastic nametag at the mall. When I left a month later - no one cared. But every time I pick up a flat-head screw, I think of old man Harris, and how those cowbells clanged as I walked out that door. And even though I can't say exactly what I gained...I know I can't measure...what I lost.

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(Ep 73 - "Frank and Denise")

Poets say love comes and goes in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, in high school, it goes more than it comes. Still, in my high school, there was one couple whose love soared above all a winged chariot. The guy guys feared. The girl girls talked about. Denise Lovell and Francis Stanavukovich. Better known as "Frank the Stank", and "Denise the Grease". Frank and Denise weren't the cutest couple in school, or the most popular, and they definitely weren't the most likely to succeed. But they lived in a special world, where vows were made, promises were kept, and hearts were never broken. They had a bond between them that you could almost see. A bond that seemed to strengthen them in everything they did. They were a constant in a changing universe. Something rock-solid. A living monument to love.

OK - so it wasn't Shelley or Keats. But it got the point across. As for me, I was gonna miss "The Grease". And I was pretty sure she was gonna miss me a little, too. But we both knew she was back where she belonged. And I finally understood. You had to really know two people and their problems...before you could solve them.
DENISE: By the way, Frank - false alarm...I'm not pregnant.
KEVIN and NARRATOR: Pregnant?!
Frank and Denise got back together that day. And our world fell back into orbit. He loved her...and she loved him. And I lived to tell the tale. "The Stank" and Denise got married that summer after graduation, and had a kid. Denise went to college, and Frank went to cosmetology school. And even though I heard they divorced a couple of years later, I hoped - like Frank running over his shop teacher - that it was just a rumor.

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(Ep 74 - "Full Moon Rising")

Adolescence is kind of a screwy time. A time of hope and confusion. It's a race to find out who you really are. But if there's one thing teenager knows, it's this. Stated simply...if you want to be a gotta have a car. Cars - the ultimate dream of every red-blooded American kid. Cars meant freedom, status, maturity. If you were old enough to drive, the world was your oyster. But, if you weren't...your world was more of a sardine - to really stretch an analogy. Without wheels, life was one indignity after another. A series of humiliations. And faced with these constant look for any small way to elevate your status. The trick was to keep your friends jealous. Fact was, we all knew the bottom-line. To be truly free and functioning high-school men, what we needed...was a car.

We didn't really accomplish anything that night. Nothing of any real importance, anyway. But through the high school years that lay ahead...there would be a thousand other nights, just like that one. Stupid, ridiculous...and glorious.

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(Ep 75 - "Triangle")

The nineteen-seventies were filled with improbable events. Strange occurrences. Unexpected happenings. But nothing was quite as my brother and his new girlfriend.
PURDLE: Why is Sandy Tyler dating your brother?
KEVIN: Got me.
PURDLE: What is it? Like some kind of science experiment?
KEVIN: Got me.
It defied explanation. Sandy Tyler was a seemingly-intelligent eleventh-grader. She was smart. She was pretty.
PURDLE: She's out...of her mind.
Seemed as good an explanation as any. It was amazing. By some fantastic stroke of cosmic luck, my brother had found paradise. A girl with charm. A girl with style. A girl...who used her silverware.

WAYNE: I broke up with Sandy.
KEVIN: What?! (Frowns.)
WAYNE: Dumped her.
KEVIN: You did?
WAYNE: Yeah. It wasn't working out. She wasn't my type. The thing is - I don't mean to get philosophical...(burps)...but I think...even though she's hurt...and...even though she feels...that nobody loves her...and she's all's better if it Because she...has a better chance of gettin' over it. Someday.
As I sat there, listening to my brother's pain...and the lies he told to cover it...I didn't know what to do. I knew I wanted to be with Sandy. Holding her in my arms - dancing with her. But in the end...I stayed with my brother...because, after all...he brother.

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(Ep 76 - "Soccer")

There's one in every high school in America - the trophy case. Filled with winged statues, and siver-plated victory cups...all monuments to the winning spirit. To team play. To greatness on the field. Not just anyone could get inside that case. You had to be a winner. You had to have determination. You had to have guts. And most importantly...
COACH MEECHAM: Arnold! (Gestures.) Over here.
You had to make the cut.
KEVIN: Yeah, coach?
COACH MEECHAM: You gave it everything you got today, son.
KEVIN: Thanks! (Smiles.) That mean I made the team?
COACH MEECHAM: You gotta be jokin'. Hit the showers.
That fall of my sophomore year, one thing was clear. No matter how hard I tried...the wide world of sports wasn't wide enough to include me. Face it. I was five-foot-four, and a hundred-and-ten pounds. What team could I play on?

(Kevin joins the soccer team, which has an unenthusiastic coach.)
At least one thing seemed clear...when it came to coaching...this coach couldn't care less. Of course, maybe there was a reason for that. Take Nick Bott, for example. The most uncoordinated kid I ever met. Not to mention the biggest "Star Trek" fan. And Andy Collins. I never saw a lazier kid. And who could forget Chuck Coleman? "Mr. Fidget". The kid meant well enough...but he elevated annoying to an art form. And Leigh Fitzpatrick. Sweet guy, but a bundle of nerves. All-in-all, we were a team that could most-charitably be described as...
(Coach McIntyre is bent over looking for his cushion as a ball bangs into the bleachers.)
COACH McINTYRE: What the hell was that?

(The guys use a football playbook as a guide.)
And there ya had it. Sure, it wasn't much, but it was a start. And who knew? Maybe with the right combination of coaching and raw talent...we'd actually make something of ourselves.
(The guys punt the ball.)
Or maybe, just was gonna be the longest season in recorded history.
(Cut to the guys doing jumping jacks.)
After the great football-playbook fiasco...lesser men might have hung it up. But for some reason, my teammates hung in there. Maybe we were really trying to get good. Maybe we were just trying to get Pops to pay attention to us. In any event...
(Coach McIntyre is slumped down, napping.)
It wasn't working. Pretty soon, morale began to plummet. Team spirit hit an all-time low. As for dreams of glory on the playing field were fading. Fast.

(The guys are heading to the field.)
Game day. The good news was...we had new uniforms. The bad news was...we were the same team inside them. Still, for some reason...these jokers weren't just giving up. Maybe it was a tribute to the team spirit. The power of positive thinking. The triumph of will over adversity. Or...
(They see the other team.)
NICK: Oh, my God...
Maybe it was plain stupidity. Our opponents could have passed for the Italian national all-stars. Leaving us only one small glimmer of hope.
NICK: Maybe it'll rain.
(Cut to the game.)
That afternoon, we gave it all we had. We threw ourselves into it. We did our dead-level best.
(The guys are horribly outplayed.)
Our dead-level best...stunk. Pretty soon our problem was clear. It was our goalie's fault.
(Various players takes turns as goalie, all ineffectually.)
But by halftime...we'd run out of scapegoats.
(Trailing 0-11, Kevin gives an unconvincing pep-talk at halftime in the gym, then walks outside.)
When I got back on that field, I was mad. I'd take these guys on myself, if I had to.
(Kevin's teammates join him.)
When that whistle blew...we actually got possession of the ball. And what's more amazing...we actually completed a pass.
(Leigh kicks the ball into the net. Everyone hops around and celebrates.)
It was our finest hour.
(A man changes the scoreboard to "0-12".)
Unfortunately...we'd kicked the ball into the wrong net.
(The guys start to argue and fight.)
We completely fell apart. It was like "Lord of the Flies". And that's when it happened. Pops was heading towards us to say it was over. That we had no hope of winning. That it was time to hang it up.
COACH McINTYRE: Kick it that way. (Gestures.)
I don't know what it was that touched him. Maybe it was the way we stuck together. Maybe it was the way we were tearing apart. But in that brief instant...Pops McIntyre became a coach again. And we were finally...a team.
KEVIN: Come on, guys. Let's lose one for Pops.
(Cut to the game.)
Sure, we lost that day. But it was a glorious defeat. After all, all over America, there were teams like ours. Teams that marched bravely into slaughter. Teams that went oh-and-fifteen, and kept on losing. And kept on trying. Not for the league titles...or the silver-plated victory cups. But just for the joy of playing. Together. The thing is...I'll never forget those guys. Even if they were dorks.

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(Ep 77 - "Dinner Out")

My dad was always a sucker for birthdays. Every year, he loved the ritual. The attention. The cake. Heck, we all loved the cake. But most of all, Dad loved our gifts. No matter what we gave was his moment of glory. His time in the sun. His be king for a day. Unfortunately by birthday-time, nineteen-seventy-one...the king wasn't looking so...kingly. Maybe it was because he was about to turn forty-three in a week. Maybe it was the day-to-day irritations. Maybe it was something else.
NORMA: Jack? I spoke to Karen today. (Smiles.)
JACK: I don't want to talk about it.
NORMA: Well, she just wanted to know how we're all doing.
JACK: We're doing fine.
NORMA: And she mentioned that she and...
JACK: I don't want to talk about it.
Face it. For the past six months, ever since he'd found out my sister was co-habitating without benefit of clergy...Dad had become kinda...monosyllabic.

That night I sat and looked at old photos of my dad. The things he'd done. His life and times. Maybe I was searching for some way to make things better. It wasn't up to me to set this right.
(Karen knocks on the door. Jack opens it.)
(Jack sighs.)
KAREN: Daddy, can we talk?
JACK: I think I'd like that. You comin' in?
KAREN: I-I can't stay.
JACK: I know.
KAREN: Not for long, anyway.
(Karen enters. Jack smiles at her.)
JACK: I know.
KAREN: Only where to begin. (Smiles.)
I couldn't hear exactly what they said. But watching them...I finally knew what my father needed for his birthday. Not a funny tie, or a forty-seven dollar meal...or even a ratchet set. What he needed was...
KAREN: Happy birthday.
(They hug.)
Was to know, deep down...that she remembered what he remembered. And to feel...even for that briefest king for a day.

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(Ep 78 - "Christmas Party")

Every year when I was a kid, my parents threw a Christmas party. Everybody in the neighborhood came. Dad played the "big cheese"...Mom played "Donna Reed"...and a really stupid time was had by all. It was a time when hopes were high. When the neighborhood was young. It was fun, before fun got so...complicated. Before life got so...simple.

And I guess that's when I understood. For Mom and Dad, the party hadn't been a disaster. For as much as things were changing all around them...what Jack and Norma had - what drew people to their house every Christmas for sixteen years...was still the same. The thing they started out with. The one they'd never lose. My parents never did throw another Christmas bash. And that was OK - I guess. But I still think about those parties. What they stood for. A time before TV dinners and two-car families. And grass was green and we were young...and those nights when I'd lie awake in my bed...watching the light dance under my door. And listening...for my father's laugh.

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(Ep 79 - "Pfeiffer's Fortune")

Whenever I look back on growing up in the suburbs, there's one thing I remember most clearly. Our neighbors, the Pfeiffer's...were always there. But we were more than just neighbors. We were like one big happy family. And at the heart of it all...were our dads. The men who set the tone. My dad, the athlete...and Paul's dad, the optometrist. Under their watchful eyes...our families grew, and prospered. One for all, and all for one. Until, that is, things started to change.

The thing is, I'd been so busy tearing down my own dad...I guess I'd forgotten Paul had one to tear down, too. I wanted to tell 'em that he had nothing to fear. That any man who could produce a son like Paul...was a giant in my book. Even if his beach was under water. At the end of that semester, Paul left his prep school, and came to McKinley with me. In a way I think he was happy about it. I know I was. As for the Arnold's and Pfeiffer's...we patched things up. After all, some things are more lasting than real estate. And Mr. Pfeiffer? Think of it this way - nothing ventured, nothing gained. Besides, you never knew when the tide might go out.

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(Ep 80 - "Road Test")

Every culture has its own rites of passage. Ways of marking that leap from manhood. Complex rituals...weird dances...acts of courage and survival. It's a tradition as old as civilization. recent as crabgrass. Fact! In the suburbs...a boy's first steps towards manhood start behind a lawnmower. Still, for me, at sixteen, lawn care had given way to something much, much, more important. The driver's license. The thing that separates the boys...from the men. And so on and so forth. But the truth was, by the spring of tenth grade, it was time to put the mower in mothballs. Forget the crabgrass. Make the jump from two real horsepower.

And that's when I knew what I had to do. Like the young warrior cast out into the darkness of the jungle to prove his manhood...I was going to learn how to parallel park, the only way I knew how. Alone. This is it! Sure, I was committing grand-theft auto...but there was a greater need here. I had to take the chance...and I had to do it now. And the path was clear ahead. Or so I thought. At that moment I hit rock bottom. I couldn't drive, I couldn't park, I couldn't even remember to put away my father's lawnmower. I didn't think I couldn't feel any worse. Except then I did. The funny thing is, for a second I actually thought about running for my life. But somehow I guess I knew. I just could't run anymore. It was time to face the truth. And maybe in that moment...I learned something. About being a man. And I learned it...from the guy who wrote the book. That night my dad taught me a lot. How to parallel park. Why you put away the lawnmower...And in some small way - what it takes to grow up. That Monday he took the afternoon off...and we went and got my license. He waa so proud. Then he took it away - and grounded me for a month.

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(Ep 81 - "Grampa's Car")

When I was a kid, anytime I needed a lift...there was my grandfather. The guy was always good for a ride. Sure, he was as old as the hills...but to me...Gramps was Hercules in bi-focals. Superman in suspenders. He was man in a million. You could always count on him. Not that everyone shared my view. It was kind of a ritual around our house. Gramps visited, Mom cooked, Dad groused...and I...I borrowed the keys to the car.

Some gifts are simple. Some come at a price. Some you buy for a buck. And last you a lifetime. I guess everybody remembers their first car. I know I remember mine. Not because it was my first car...but because it was my grandfather's last.

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(Ep 82 - "Kodachrome")

It seemed like my high school teachers came in every conceivable shape...size and style. There were the hopelessly confused...the terminally repetitious...the insufferably boring. But of all the teachers I ever had...I only ever had one...who was...a natural. Miss Shaw taught English 2-A. She was a year out of graduate school...and there was something about her that She didn't take attendance - she didn't need to. She let us sit anywhere we wanted. And she never, ever, used the word "literature". But maybe the most remarkable thing about her was...she actually liked what she did.

That afternoon there was kind of a...celebration. They were celebrating youth. Enthusiasm. Idealism. They were cheering for the best, and the brightest. Only they didn't know what I knew then. But they found out. I guess in the end, Miss Shaw did what was best for her. After all, no compromises, no regrets. The only thing is - she didn't do what was best for us. Even today...I don't know who to be angry at. Her...or the system that drove her away.

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(Ep 83 - "Private Butthead")

In nineteen-seventy-two, the war was still raging in Vietnam. Politicians kept talking. Soldiers kept dying. And no one seemed to know why. But, maybe because the war had gone on too long...or maybe, because it had caused too much pain...whatever the reason...most of us managed to keep it at a distance...and go on, with our everyday, normal lives. My brother, for example, was studying for his college entrance exams. Luckily, Wayne's draft lottery number was 312. Unfortunately, that was also his first SAT score. The thing is, the guy wasn't a total idiot. He was just...unconscious. But no matter how much of a problem the SAT's were...Wayne had an even bigger problem. A problem of cosmic proportions. A problem...that could block the sun. As Wayne inched his way towards graduation...Dad worried about everything he did. And his worries came out as complaints. Unfortunately, the more Dad complained...the worse Wayne did. It was almost as if Wayne thought he was expected to screw up. But even though the problem seemed clear enough...for some reason...the solution just wasn't that simple. Ironically...while the long arm of the future was reaching out for Wayne...the long arm of my guidance counselor was reaching out for me.

Love is never simple. Not for fathers and sons. We spend our lives full of hope and expectations. And, most of the time...we're bound to fail. But that afternoon, as I watched my father sheltering his son...against a future that was so unsure...All I knew was...they didn't want to let each other down, anymore. A few days later, Wart left for basic training. He spent two months at Fort Polk, Louisiana. And then, David Wirtshafter...was shipped to Vietnam. A big goofy kid...who didn't know what his future would be.

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(Ep 84 - "Of Mastodons and Men")

In a lot of ways, high school boys are a lot like primitive man. They forage for their food. They fashion crude tools. And of course...they hang out in groups. In fact, about the only difference between my friends...and Neanderthal man was...Neanderthals had bigger brains. The tribe. That year we were inseparable. We'd faced all the challenges. All but one, anyway. Women. Julie Aidem. We'd been goin' out for two weeks. And to put it mildly...she appreciated the little things about me. She liked my laugh. She thought about me - lots. That was Julie. She watched over me. Took care of me. Civilized me. Let's face it. She was good for me.

MR. AIDEM: It's not that bad - having people who care for you, you know?
I guess Ben understood something. Something that I'd time. But me? I was just a sixteen-year-old guy. And the way I saw it...there were still a lot of mastodons yet to be slayed.

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(Ep 85 - "Double Double Date")

There are certain nights in your life that are ruled by forces beyond your control - magic, romance, destiny. Nights where love catches you by surprise. And things are never quite the same again. I was lucky enough to have one of those nights. And the memory will stay in my life - forever.

And that's when it happened. At that moment, all the feelings that Winnie and I had been trying to bottle up...finally came rushing to the surface. We couldn't hide our passions anymore. So I leaned in closer...and kissed her...right on the eye. And then she kissed me...on my eye.
KEVIN: What happened?
WINNIE: I'm not sure.
And the thing is, neither of us knew. Maybe our aim was off. Or maybe it was something else. But the thing is, that was all we did. Maybe it was happening too fast. Maybe we wanted to hold on what we had. Or maybe we both knew there were other things we had to find, before we found each other. All we really knew for sure was, as we sat there, looking out over the lights of town where we had grown up together, it all felt right. It all felt...perfect.

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(Ep 86 - "Hero")

High school. It's a complicated time. Full of passion. Excitement. The crazy joy of being young. At my school one spring, all that craziness came together in one word - basketball. For us, it was more than just a was ritual. For the first time in years, McKinley High had a winner. And we owed it all to one guy. Number eleven...Bobby Riddle. Forget Couzy...forget Maravich...Bobby was magic. A genuine high school hero. Well, to me, anyway. And I should know. After all...Bobby had the locker next to mine.

And then that man..."Mr. Pencil stubs and Alka-Seltzer"..."Mr. Pay the bills and go to work"...said something I'll never forget. JACK: Let me tell ya something,'s not easy being a hero.
And I knew he wasn't talking about Bobby Riddle. He was talking...about himself. Some heroes pass through your life and disappear in a flash. You get over it. But the good ones, the real ones, the ones who count - stay with you for the long haul. The thing is, after all these years, I couldn't tell you the score of that game. What I remember is...sitting in that diner, up late...being young...drinking coffee with the only real hero I ever knew. My Dad - Jack Arnold. Number one.

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(Ep 87 - "Lunch Stories")

In March of nineteen-seventy-two, a lot of great things were happening. Events that would shape history, and alter the way we think. Still, among all that change, there was a common thread. One experience that united us all. Lunch. At twelve-oh-five PM every all over America piled in to high school cafeterias. Like lemmings to the meatloaf. You remember. The sights, the sounds...and that smell. That odd combination of wet trays, warm silverware, and pale green beans. But lunch at my school, like most others...was rarely about food. It was about drama...lust...power...intrigue. Not to mention...humiliation. In a way, it was kind of a stage. And we...its principle players. There were those who could never seem to find a place to sit...and those no one wanted to sit with. Those with natural charm...and those who had to work for it. Me...I was just an ordinary Joe...being served something unidentifiable by a guy in a hair-net. Stocking up on waxy milk...and congealed blue-plate special. Yeah. All in was good.

And, there ya had it. Lunch. Where romances bloomed and died...and returned again. Like last weeks leftover tuna casserole. Where the fondest dreams and aspirations of young adults reached their zenith...and the quest for knowledge became its own reward. Sure...maybe all those dramas played out over lunch weren't really dramas after all. Still looking back...they sure seemed that way.

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(Ep 88 - "Carnal Knowledge")

If there's one thing every kid needs growing up - it's a best friend. Someone you trust. Someone who trusts you. Someone you measure yourself against. You go through everything together. Important things...stupid things. Things that matter...things that don't. Paul Pfeiffer and I had been best friends since the day we were born. And in that time, we'd been through everything. Well, almost everything. Everything, that is, but...
(In the cafeteria, Chuck slaps down a newspaper movie ad.)
CHUCK: Here it is, guys. Our paradise.
RICKY: What? "Bedknobs and broomsticks"?
CHUCK: Look again, doofus. "Carnal...knowledge".
In adolescent terms, it meant one thing. A three-letter word, starting with "S", ending with "X"...and sandwiched in the middle...
RICKY: Ann-Margaret.

It was the first time I ever realized how truly perilous love could be. And I guess at that moment it was clear. Some things never change. After all, Paul was Paul. And no matter what, the Growing up is complicated. Kind of a race against time. A search for identity. For love. And the outcome's always in doubt. Things happen fast. Sometimes too fast. But that night, with Paul...I knew one thing. We'd been through everything together. And from here on matter what...we were gonna need each other...more than ever.

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(Ep 89 - "The Lost Weekend")

Genetics. The heartbeat of heredity...the lynch-pin of the family. Parents supply their children with the same basic building blocks. The same blood types. The same involuntary responses. The same essential gene-pool. Yet, despite all this potential for similarity...sometimes things get confused. Sometimes, Mother Nature, in all her wry sense of humor...goes off and and complete opposites. Like me and my brother, Wayne. It was hard to believe we ever occupied the same womb. The only thing we had in common...was our complete and utter contempt for one another. All in brother and I were just two different branches on the family tree. Me, the good branch...Wayne...the dead-end.

The thing is...I was prepared for the yelling, screaming, the gnashing of teeth. But what I wasn't prepared for was...the complete and utter silence. Well, maybe this was justice. A pay-back for all the times I'd laughed at Wayne when he got in trouble. In any case...there was no way out. Course, he should have told. It was the moment he had been waiting for...his whole life. But he didn't. I'm not sure why he didn't. Maybe he saw it was futile to try to explain. Maybe he knew how much harder my parents would be on me...than on him. Or maybe he forgot, and though he really did it. Or just maybe...for that one brother saw in me, a little bit of himself. Growing up brothers is kind of a mixed bag. Strangers. Warriors. Enemies. Idiots. Friends. One day you fight to the death. The'd lay down your lives for each other. I never did say "thanks" to Wayne for what he did. But I washed his Corvair. And waxed it, too. I figured, hey - any guy who did that...deserved a shiny car.

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(Ep 90 - "Stormy Weather")

It always seemed that in my house, the most dramatic things happened in the middle of the night. Like the night of the big blizzard when Dad got stuck out on the highway...and we thought we'd never see him again. Or the night my brother swallowed a whole bag of marbles...and threw them up in the car, on the way to the hospital. Or the night my eight-legged science project escaped...and turned up in Mom's nightgown at three AM. But nothing ever created quite as much confusion around my the night my sister came back home.

Like I said...anything really important that happened at my house...happened in the middle of the night. In a way, it was a relief to all of us. We weren't really good at things like...romance. We were better at marbles, and eight-legged science projects. Ten days later...Karen asked Michael to marry her. And he accepted.

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(Ep 91 - "The Wedding")

In nineteen-seventy-two, the "me" decade was dawning. And people everywhere were doing their own thing. Letting it all hang out. And setting out to find themselves. The world was changing. And my family was right in the middle of it.

circle91 The next morning, I watched my sister get married...and welcomed a new brother into my family. I watched my mother send her firstborn child out into the world. And felt her sorrow. I watched my father give away his only a stranger he hardly knew. I said goodbye, myself. Looking back, maybe it all seems a little silly. But being there, in those passing moments, I saw that something real and important was happening. Not just for Michael and Karen, but for all of our small and fragile, almost-insignificant suburban family. After all, those were passionate times, when children were pioneers...on the road to find out, wherever that road might take them. When brothers and sisters, looking back...wished they'd known each other better. And parents, filled with love and despair, held on to the past...and kept a quiet vigil, for the future.

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(Ep 92 - "Back to the Lake")

When I was growing up, summer vacations meant one thing - fun. Two solid months of goofing off, hanging out, and sleeping late. June, July and August were a time when anything was possible, when the hardships of school were over, and the promise of great times lay ahead. As for me that summer of nineteen-seventy-two, I was sixteen. Still young enough to bask in the pleasures of summer. The real delights...the harbingers of doom. It was grim. Within hours of his graduation, my brother had been Shanghai'd by the American workforce. Not that I wasn't sympathetic. Still, it was about time the Wayner got a taste of the old Puritan work ethic. I mean after all, this was Wayne's problem, not mine. Until of course, it was. Oh, God. Here they came. Those two words which meant death to summer fun.
(Jack slides the newspaper "want ads" to Kevin.)
JACK: Start lookin'.

CARA: Send me a Christmas card?
KEVIN: I will.
But I didn't. After all, when you're sixteen, eight months is a lifetime. And time had moved on. For both of us. As for me, I had my own roads to travel. Sure, I had a restless spirit. But I knew what was good for me. And the way I saw it...the summer was young.

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(Ep 93 - "Broken Hearts and Burgers")

By the time you've made it to age sixteen, you pretty much know all there is to know. About history, philosophy - the world. About life. There was virtually no situation you can't handle. Yeah, you're on top of your game - the pinnacle of poise, the essence of cool. No doubt about it - from the right thing to wear, to the right place to sit, to the right person to sit with. At sixteen, you pretty much learned it all. Well, almost all. OK. So there's one subject you're just as dumb about as you ever were. Yeah - love. Like I said, at sixteen - you've learned nothing. Nothing at all.

Adolescence. The age of maturity, confidence, boundless self-assurance. And let's not forget...unutterable misery. Fortunately, in times of crisis, every teenager has a secret weapon. His friends. Yeah, that's the thing about friends. They're always there. With But most of all, growing up...they're the guys that never fail you. Who never lose faith in you.

After all there are some quandaries in a young man's life...that even his friends can't solve for him. Times when a teenager has to stand up and act from his heart.
* vast experience doesn't always apply. When you're sixteen, you have other tools at your disposal. Things like...
WINNIE'S GIRLFRIEND: Yes? Can we help you?
KEVIN: Winnie...Come on, you're being ridiculous. You're blowing this whole thing out of proportion. You're completely over-reacting. I mean, haven't you ever looked at another girl?
And there you have it - logic. Reason. Experience. When you're sixteen...none of it means a thing. And nothing counts but the way you feel...and the way you felt, the first day you ever really knew - about love.

When you're twelve years old, and a guy, the whole subject of women tends to be pretty much...a mystery. Communications with the opposite sex are still kinda rudimentary. Still, little by little, you begin to catch on. You master the language of love. Until, by the time you leave junior high're right back where you started.

Yeah, you're on top of your game...The pinnacle of poise, the essence of cool.
WAYNE: Hey, I got an idea...(gestures)...maybe I should go over and talk to her for you.
KEVIN: No, no, really, Wayne. (Frowns.)
WAYNE: Come on, I'm your brother! (Gestures.) Who else are you gonna turn to? (Nods.)
KEVIN: Well...
And of course the guy did have a point. I mean, he was family...or so my parents told me. Come to think of it...much of my early formal education in the subtleties of male-female relationships...came from a guy who was even more ignorant than I was. Which is not to say the Wayner didn't mean well enough. Still, the truth was, when it came to Winnie Cooper...I'd always been a desperate man. And sometimes desperate times...require desperate measures.
(Wayne joins Winnie.)
WAYNE: Winnie! Hi! Here's the deal...(Gestures.)
Besides...think of it this way - when the whole world hangs in the balance, help often comes from the least likely places.
WAYNE: *I think you oughta...*
(Winnie slaps Wayne.)
WINNIE: Creep!
WAYNE: Huhhh...
(Wayne returns.)
WAYNE: She's all yours! (Exits.)
And there you have it. The awful truth, the bottom line. When it comes to love...there's no simple fix. You're out there, on you're own, and maybe all you can do is hang on...and hope for the best. And lead with your heart. When you're sixteen, passions run high. A simple misunderstanding becomes a matter of life or death. You live from moment to moment. And sometimes, when your sixteen, the only way to get your love to take it.

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04/06/01 23:59