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Like mother, like daughter

December 10, 2015
By Joyce Schenk , Westfield Republican

Since you and I have known each other for quite a while now, I think I can share something with you that I have told only a few people during my lifetime. The time has come to admit I was once a hopeless addict.

Mine was a shared shame. You see, my dear mother, who lived with us at the time, was addicted, too.

Fortunately, our sordid little habit didn't involve drugs or alcohol. Instead, it was something we both indulged in during the children's early years.

Each afternoon, while the little ones took their naps, Mom and I shamelessly watched the daytime dramas known as Soap Operas.

The routine was to settle the youngsters down, then take our places on the sofa. At the appointed time, tissues at the ready, we would join the harried and hapless men and women on "The Doctors," and "Days of our Lives," riveted to the endless chaos unfolding on the small screen.

Nurse Jessie from "The Doctors," and the lovely but star-crossed Marlena, from "Days," captured our devotion through love and loss, marriage and divorce, triumph and tragedy. We were with them all the way.

The whole tissue-tossed couch-potato scene came back to me some time ago, when I read about the final episode of "The Guiding Light," a sister Soap and the longest running of these addictive daytime dramas. The veteran Soap "went to black" after a 72-year run. The media reported that devoted "Light" fans across the country were devastated.

These ongoing stories were called the "Soaps" thanks to their sponsors, businesses like Proctor and Gamble, the big soap maker.

And, like the soap products they sold, many of the continuing tales were frothy and without much substance. But, there were dozens of issues and mock tragedies faced by the casts that seemed to capture the imaginations of their legions of loyal viewers.

I was finally cured of my Soap addiction when, due to an illness, I had to stop watching for a week. When I eagerly got back to my place on the sofa, the man who was opening the door when I last watched, was closing the same door. The conversation hadn't changed. The story line had simply bogged down in an unending series of misunderstandings and mis-communications.

In fact, when I started analyzing the content of our favorite programs, I realized if these beautiful but brainless people had simply told each other how they felt, had taken the time to engage in honest conversations, every week's story would have been wrapped up by Wednesday.

Fortunately, my late mother and I were able to reverse our addiction with no long-term after effects. But the experience did inspire me to use better judgment when choosing programs for viewing.

These days, given the quality of the current television offerings, I've been doing a lot of reading.



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