Friday, May 16, 2008

F is for Fridays, and Fantasy Island

*Don't know how to add clips yet, will learn soon I promise, but for now, please humor me and use your imagination.*

Good God almighty hope some of you are reading this masterpiece.

Cue the music....

Doo du du du doo du du dadu

High mountains, water falls, a seaplane, a bell, a little person with a french accent in a white suit, a tall dark, handsome man, with a dignified Puerto Rican accent, in a white suit...

"Bosth, De Plane, de plane"

Ah, yes. In my house, growing up, Friday nights meant Mom and Dad went out to dinner, we got a babysitter; Swanson t.v. dinners; filled with rubbery meat, powdered mashed potatoes, tasteless vegetables and the piece de resistance, chocolate cake, that typically had to be sawed off of the plastic tray in order to be eaten; and jiffy pop. It was late seventies and maybe early, early eighties, I was about ages four to six. Kids t.v. was not on at night, and vcrs did not exist. Yes, children, I did grow up in the prehistoric era. On Friday nights, we watched the Love Boat, and if we were still up Fantasy Island.

Last week, when I was out some girlfriends, I happened to mention that I was perusing through the guide on my t.v. and I saw at the bottom an ad that said, "watch Fantasy Island on tube time, on demand." Of course, I have not seen this show in decades. Fantasy Island isn't easy to find in reruns, and in fact, I probably haven't thought about watching this show in years, even though I remember it vividly, as a part of my childhood.

Now, when I mentioned this to some of my friends, I had already had several drinks. I am weird and I think under normal circumstances, I probably wouldn't have mentioned my finding Fantasy Island on t.v., not because I ashamed, no, I'm am open about my oddness, but because I probably wouldn't have thought that anyone else would be interested in my information. Much to my surprise, however, everyone was asking me for specific instructions as to how to find these episodes on t.v. Yes, their Fridays were very similar to mine. The Love Boat was all happy, good times, and then Fantasy Island scared the shit out of you right before you went to bed.

My friend Beth even mentioned the episode that I was permanently scarred by as the episode that she was permanently scarred by. "Remember the Jack the Ripper episode"... do I ever... it's part of one of my seven stories...

My cousin, Luann (those of you who have read my post, Sharks and Dwarfs, is it any wonder I am crazy? will remember my cousin Luann) was babysitting. She is deaf, but can read lips and speak well with her hearing aid, and so remained, as interested in watching t.v. while babysitting, as any normal teen. We had watched the Love Boat, all good and happy times, and then I wanted to have a bath. Luann was determined that my bath would not interrupt her viewing Fantasy Island. I was about four or five and had seen Fantasy Island enough times to know that I did not want to watch it, I was afraid. I also did not want to go to bed until my Mom and Dad came home, so I tried to linger in the tub. Luann turned off the water once the tub had about one inch of water in it.

"It's time to get out", she barked.

But I didn't want to get out, I wanted more water. That's when Luann scalded me with the hot bath water. Well, maybe she didn't exactly scald me, per se, but she did turn the water on hot, and when I moved up from the back of the tub and touched my toe to the new water, it did burn my toe and I screamed and, she said, "now are you ready to get out?" And so I climbed out of the back side of the tub, because the front side contained scalding hot water, this was in the time before people turned their hot water heaters down obviously, and I put my pajamas on and followed her down to watch Fantasy Island, because my only other option was to go bed by myself.

Maybe it wouldn't be a scary episode. Ha! It was the Jack the ripper episode. I pleaded with Luann to turn it off, but she absolutely wouldn't. I was scared shitless, and was paralyzed with fear. After only seeing seconds of the show, I was definitely too scared to leave the room, but I was also terrified to be in the room where I had to watch the show.

The next day, I was at my Aunt's house telling on my cousin, her daughter, when her older sister, who had to have been on drugs at the time, I mean I can't imagine a sober twenty year old telling a four year old what my cousin Sandy told me, said that I was silly to be afraid. She was studying to be actress at the time, and she said, "oh you shouldn't be afraid, that man is just an actor trying to make money to feed his family!"

I think on this and I wonder WTF my mom was thinking. Sometimes when she evaluates my babysitters or my choices as a mother, I remind her of this story, and she just stares blankly ahead, pretending that she can't hear me.

In any case, you would think I would never want to see this show ever again, after hearing that story. Not so, though, for a couple of reasons. First, fantasy Island also reminds me of the many happy Friday nights that I spent safely inside my house, in the rec room eating my t.v. dinner that my mother would have let me pick out earlier in the day at shop rite, and later watching the jiffy pop erupt on my stove, before my brother and I would snuggle down on the couch under an afghan to watch the love boat and fantasy Island. Not all of our babysitters were evil, and sometimes even our mom and dad would be home on Friday, usually if they had plans to go out on a Saturday,and we watch these shows with them, secure in the knowledge that with Mom and Dad, nothing could hurt us. Second, one of the greatest pleasures of being an adult is being able to go back to things that you feared when you were a child and laugh at them, because, in fact, they are not really scary at all. Doing this makes your mind feel all balanced, like a reconciled checkbook.

So finding Fantasy Island on t.v. again has, for me, been like uncovering an old scrapbook full of childhood mementos. Since so many of my friends also have fond memories of Mr. Rourke saying "Welcome to Fantasy Island" in his debonair accent and stylish yet slimy white suit; and since we all want to watch and realize how truly not scary, and actually cheesy the show was, I decided that I would host "A fantasy Island" slumber party of sorts at my house. A girls night in. A night of t.v. dinners, jiffy pop, and a tray full of island drinks adorned with flowers and laced with a lot of liquor.

I have yet to set the date for the party, and am still working on the details, but I thought it would be fun to also hold a contest on my blog with this theme. I have put together a Fantasy Island prize pack, and I will pick a winner from comments to this post next Friday. Let me know what your fav. episode was, or if you have watched recently, or about any memories of Swanson dinners, jiffy pop, Mr. Rourke, tattoo ;etc.;etc.

Have a great weekend!



mommastantrum said...

Fantasy Island didn't scare me, but the Incredible talk about permanant damage. Which is weird, because 1)I never actually was allowed to watch the HULK, but if I knew it was on and mom was sitting next to the tv to watch it on super low I would sit in my bed and sob hysterically and 2) Fantasy Island was way freakier than the HULK.

I think though that it has something to do with my long standing fascination with the tropics and such. I must have lived there in another life so it didn't bother me.

Also that main dude was hot - you know for an old guy. Or maybe it was his accent, I don't know. Maybe there is something really wrong with me...

I want to come to that party though. I wonder if I have enough Frequent Flier miles to make it out there. Can I bring my Old Navy Swim Suit cover up to wear?

Laurie of the Seven Stories said...

Please do come. Also, the old dude, Ricardo Montalbon, is absolutely a hottie- I love the accent, too! You should totally bring your Old Navy Swim suit cover up and when you arrive I'll be wearing a white suit, and I will say "Welcome to Fantasy Island".

P.S. Do you think that you could come by sea plane?

mommastantrum said...

I will come in the golf cart. The sea plane is in for repairs...

Connie said...

Oh my goodness!

You just described my Friday Nights as a child!!

What a great idea! Fantasy Island Party! I'm guessing that I was scared beyond shitless because I can't remember any of the details of the stories.

Ann(ie) said...


I was a love boat fanatic, too. Big time. And I had a crush on Gopher. I was a strange child.