This is really a story about why you shouldn’t eat two dozen chocolate covered almonds after 10 pm, no matter how good they happen to taste, because the result is that at 1 am, you might find yourself flipping through your 10,000 cable channels looking for something to lull you to sleep and you’ll settle for an episode of Happy Days on a channel you didn’t know you had called The Hub. You think it might be just the hit of yellowed nostalgia you need to put your sugar-addled-mind to sleep. Maybe it will be that one where the Fonz helps Richie out of that insurmountable problem. Or maybe it will be that one with Leather Tuscadero that first made you vaguely aware of the opposite sex when you were ten. Or maybe it will be the one where, you know, the shark is jumped. But no. No. It’s not any of those episodes. In fact, it’s an episode you don’t remember at all, because it aired on your thirteenth birthday in 1984 (which means you were probably sitting alone in your room that night listening to The Cure and thinking about starting your own Goth band, if only you could find a subject matter that might be slightly more depressing than boys who can’t and shouldn’t cry).
So you watch the episode. It’s called “Kiss Me, Teach” and in it, Joanie has become a high school teacher and one of her students, Frankie, has a crush on her. Frankie – the actor must have been at least 35 – eventually decides that the best way to get to Joanie is to lock her in her own classroom and attack her. This actually happens. But before the attack – while Frankie is locking all the doors and explaining what’s about to happen – Joanie tells Frankie that it’s all her fault for wearing shorts around him. You rewind your TV, something you couldn’t have done in 1984, just to make sure what you’ve heard, you’ve heard, and that you’re not asleep already, because in a dream there’s no way a re-wound TV show would maintain its original form. Nope, you’re awake. And then Frankie pounces, pinning Joanie to the wall while she shrieks and cries. Just then, the Fonz busts into the classroom and essentially forces Frankie to jump out of a window, impaling himself on the flag pole, all while Joanie is in the corner quivering in fear and crying. The Fonz calms Joanie down. It’s all going to be okay. She’ll keep her teaching job. The tears turn to laughs. What a crazy misunderstanding! He was going to rape you, but now he’s impaled on the flag pole! Let’s head over to Arnold’s! The credits roll. An episode of Laverne & Shirley starts. It’s 1:30 am and you’re now afraid this will be the episode where Laverne is accidentally sent to Death Row and you’re not sure you can handle the mental scars that would likely leave…and then the idea that you actually remember that is too much to consider at 1:30 am and you resolve to eat nothing after, say, noon each day to escape the possibility of running into such dark, subversive subjects like those served on 80s TV. // Tod Goldberg