I just saw that new episodes of Dallas will be starting in 2012. I saw Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, and Linda Gray in the previews while the familiar theme music played in the background. I am not sure I am going to watch the new show; the old show meant so much to me and my family.
Actually, we were kind of a soap opera watching family. When I was very young, before I was old enough to go to school, I stood on a chair in front of the sink in the kitchen and watched Another World while doing the dishes. Mom cooked and we discussed what was going on. We had a very tiny black and white television that sat on the kitchen counter when we were in there, and traveled with us to other rooms to assist us in completing other chores. I don't know why I remember this so well. Maybe because it was just mom and me. She worked many different shifts throughout my childhood and having her there to talk to was a treat. I think her shift changed when I got to elementary school, so we couldn't watch soap operas together anymore. I used to record the soap operas for her--not on a VCR, but with a tape recorder. I would put the recorder as close to the television as possible so mom wouldn't miss a thing. When the actors would stop talking, I would explain the action to mom.
"Jill just cut a hole into Stuart's throat so that he can breathe, and Lorie looks mad because she thinks Jill is trying to kill him."
"Leslie's face is frowned up as she plays the piano. I think she's going crazy."
Mom would listen to the recordings at night and I would tell her anything else she missed. I loved doing that for her. I watched all of the soaps on CBS and recorded them as long as I had cassettes. If I ran out, I would just tell her everything that happened--what the characters said, what they did, how the dressed--and I would give her my opinion about what would happen next. Is it any wonder that at one point in my life, I wanted to write for soap operas.
When Dallas started, all three of us, Mom, Leroy, and I, would watch it together. From the beginning montage of the Dallas Metroplex, to the last close-up of a character's eyes and the promise of another episode the next week. Sometimes we had dinner first; most of the time we ate in front of the television set. And we talked during the commercials--about the show and other things.
One day, I came home from school on a Friday to find that someone had broken into the house. My cousin was with me and when we saw the front room in disarray, we ran to her house and she called her dad's job. Her mom and my mom both worked at T.I. and were due home any minute. When mom got there, we walked through our duplex to see what was missing. We noticed that some things were sitting stacked by the back door, waiting for the intruders to come back and get them. This was the worst part. They could come back. No one wanted to stay there that night, so we went to my cousin's house for the night.
There we sat, in front of the television on a Friday night. Three adults and six teenagers watched Dallas as of everything was normal. But life would never be the same again--someone just shot J. R.