Wednesday, November 25, 2020

56 Days to Fresh Start: Saved by the Bell, Going Home, Reasons to be Thankful

 I think, perhaps, I’ve seen one episode of “Saved by the Bell,” the sitcom that in various iterations was televised from 1989 through 2000. My kids, or at least Ellie for sure, liked it. I scored some significant Brownie points when I told them my best friend from graduate school, Steve Kreinberg, was one of the writers of the show’s “College Years” sequel. Steve burnished my upgraded image by giving me a signed poster of the cast that Ellie hung in her room.

If you’re wondering why I relate this, you no doubt have not heard a new version of “Saved by the Bell” is debuting Wednesday on Peacock, NBC’s streaming service ( Can’t say I will be watching. I don’t think Ellie will, either. 

Though “The College Years” version lasted but one season, Steve forged a career writing for several shows. Beginning with his stint as a question writer for “Hollywood Squares,” Steve was a staff writer on “Archie Bunker’s Place,” “Herman’s Head,” “Saved by the Bell,” “Head of the Class,” “Nine to Five” and “Mork & Mindy.”

If you’re wondering why none of his shows are of recent vintage, it’s because Steve was successful enough to retire early, moving from the Hollywood scene to Asheville, NC, before that city became a trendy retreat. 

Home for the Holidays: I am intrigued by reports that masses are traveling “home for the holiday.” They may be going to their parents’ abodes for Thanksgiving, but they are definitely not going “home.” Home is where they are traveling from!

Am I being picky? For sure. But isn’t that what honest reporting is meant to be? Unless they are college or boarding school students or servicemen and women returning to their parents, no one is going home. They already have a home.

Our Home: Kitchen with enlarged eating area. TV room. Home office. Laundry room. Master Bedroom. Child (now an adult) bedroom turned into Gilda’s workout room.

Those are the rooms she and I use. In our pandemic partitioned world you might have noticed I did not list a dining room nor living room. Since February we have set the dining room table just two times, first for one other couple and another time when joined by a third couple-of-our-pandemic-free-protective-pod. Every time I walk up or down the stairs I pass the living room. We’ve used it once since sequestering at home.

It was to be our turn to host Thanksgiving dinner this year. Our children, their spouses, our grandchildren, a brother, a sister and her boyfriend, a niece’s family. An “intimate” group of 17, intimate considering the 36 Gilda cooks for Rosh Hashanah eve. Nineteen years ago we enlarged our dining room to accommodate such gatherings. This year it was empty writ large.

We are not the only family separated by COVID-19. Ours is not any more depressing a condition than anyone else’s who is following CDC guidelines to forgo large family celebrations, especially if distant travel is required.

I cannot imagine anyone loves their family more than Gilda and I love ours. Or misses them more. We haven’t been able to hug them in more than half a year. FaceTime is no substitute for skin to skin contact. I get it. Yet, why are so many risking exposure, risking death, to attend a meal that, if popular culture is accurate in its depiction, is among the most stressful family encounters every year?

COVID fatigue is cited as a reason. We are tired of being cooped up. Tired of seeing the same faces. Tired of wearing a mask. Tired of constantly washing our hands. 

Yes, it’s been nine months. Time enough to have created a baby. Even with cheerful news about at least three vaccines, it will be some six more months before the true efficacy of the inoculations will be known. During my annual physical Tuesday my internist advised waiting till late spring before taking the shots. Dr. Fauci, he told me, reportedly said he would wait until April before getting vaccinated. 

We Americans are a cushioned society. Have we ever been tested in the extreme? Sure we had a Depression as did the rest of the world. We had rationing during World War II. But we didn’t endure daily bombings the way Britons did during the Blitz in 1940 and the remainder of the war. The way Syrians have during their nine year civil war. 

Our soil has been spared extensive conflict since the Civil War. Why is it that we cannot summon the fortitude to suppress our selfish desires? Why can’t we be gracious and mask up to protect ourselves and our fellow Americans? Why have we turned public health into a political football? 

Trumpism is merely the most visible manifestation of these deficiencies. Let’s be thankful that we have the potential to embark on a more conciliatory, benevolent, science-based, genteel period of national unity. Remember we are in a war against COVID-19. Our #1 job is to avoid superspreader events. Wear a mask whenever in public. It's not too much to ask. Be thankful for that.