When I retired from teaching, six years ago, I bemoaned the fact that I would no longer be getting snow days or sick days. The former were a lot more rare when I first entered the education profession, in 1974. It actually had to snow.
The latter — sick days — well, I found out this week that even if you work for yourself — six or seven days a week, 14 hours a day — when the flu hits you, you turn off the computer, stretch out on the couch and wish you were dead until the illness runs its course. And, yes, I had my flu shot.
The silver lining in the dark cloud of coughs and aches and pain that floated over me this week was twofold. My lovely wife, Lisa, took excellent care of me. She didn’t make me lime Jello, like my mama used to do, but she did keep me warm and dosed me as necessary with my mama’s own recipe of lemon juice, honey and a touch of whiskey.
And secondly, once I was able to hold my head up, I discovered a spot on the lower end of the television dial that broadcasts television shows all day, every day, that remind me of why I fell in love with the medium to begin with.
Do you remember “My Three Sons” — with Fred McMurray and William (I used to be Fred Mertz) Frawley? I caught an episode last Tuesday that I don’t think I had ever seen before. Chip, Robbie and even Ernie were all featured prominently. It was followed by “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Elly May Clampett, Granny, Uncle Jed and Jethro Bodine — Double Naught Spy — straight from The Ozarks. They were getting used to the cement pond and the fancy eatin’ room and Miss Jane was trying to get Elly to use the double-barreled sling-shots she had bought her for something other than running rabbits.
Things kept getting better after that. “Leave it to Beaver.” Oh, my goodness. Wally and Theadore and Eddie Haskell and Lumpy Rutherford. Ward and June Cleaver were the kind of parents we all wish we could be.
I had coughed 262 times, used up a box-and-a-half of Kleenex and promised God to give up cussing at football games — all over a 90-minute span — but hardly noticed because of all the black-and white memories I had discovered. And there was more to come.
At 9 a.m. the laughs were over for a while and it was time to solve a few murders. “Perry Mason” was up first. The granddaddy of all court dramas. The entire cast of characters was on hand — Della Street, Paul Drake, Hamilton Burger, Lt. Tragg and, of course, Perry Mason himself — who followed every lead and milked a confession out of a random spectator with two minutes left to go in the show.
The next show was “Matlock.” Andy Griffith had moved on from Mayberry and made it as a big time defense attorney in the big city of Atlanta. Some say the character was based on the famous legal icon Bobby Lee Cook. All I know is that even though my chest felt like an elephant was sitting on it and my head was full of a substance that scientists have yet to fully identify, two hours flew by — then I dozed off.
When I woke up, we had moved back in time to the days of the Old West. Lisa dosed me up with a plethora of pills and serums and through the fog of a medicine-induced coma I watched Marshall Dillon tame Dodge City in “Gunsmoke,” Ben Cartwright and his boys clean up Virginia City in “Bonanza” and Lucas McCain make North Fork a better place to live in “The Rifleman.” Somewhere in between, Major Seth Adams drove his “Wagon Train” across the prairie.
Things were really fixing to get interesting around 5 o’clock. Farrah Fawcett with all that thick blonde hair showed up on my television screen. Visions of Reed Hall and a red swimsuit and the most famous poster in UGA history ran through my mind. She was accompanied by Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith. “Charlie’s Angels” was about to come on — but my sick day was about to come to a close. Lisa had supper ready and her patience with me being a couch potato had run its course. I think she felt I was enjoying my television discovery way too much.
I’m not going to tell you what station I was watching because they don’t really pay me to advertise for them. I will say this. It seems like they made out their TV schedule just for me. And if I ever get to take another sick day, I can see myself tuning in again.
In fact, I have sneaked and watched “Perry Mason” a couple more times this week. The butler hasn’t done it yet, but the maid did one day.
Darrell Huckaby is an author in Rockdale County. Email him at email@example.com.