Thursday, June 25, 2009

Why I Watch Days of our Lives (yes, that's right)

It was a hot summer day in 1994 as I lay sprawled on a float in my friends’ above ground pool. I was perfectly content, not a care in the world. Nothing could’ve made me get out of that pool- nothing, that is, except the words that followed.
“It’s almost 3:00. We have to watch Days of our Lives today,” Mandi said to Jaime. “We have to see if Carly is really going to get buried alive.”
My twelve-year-old mind tried to wrap itself around what Mandi had just said. Someone was getting buried alive on daytime television? Was that allowed? What was this Days of our Lives business, anyway?
Aside from my mother telling me they were stupid and addictive, I had no idea what soap operas were. Mandi and Jaime, always ahead of their time, watched them regularly with their mother. Clearly, my interest had never been piqued- until now.
We watched Days of Our Lives that day and I was introduced to Carly, Bo, Vivian, John, Marlena, and the other residents of Salem. I watched it the next day, too, and the day after that. I was riveted. To this day, I catch the show whenever I can.
This revelation both shocks and appalls people in my life. I’ve been teased, ridiculed and questioned over my love of this crazy, brilliant, asinine, wonderful show. People don’t understand. I don’t fit what most consider the stereotypes of a soap opera fan. What they fail to realize is that, as crazy as it sounds, this show was there for me when no one else was.
What I didn’t realize at twelve was that I was about to enter a world more brutal, cruel and unforgiving than a soap opera- junior high. It had all of the drama with none of the resolutions. It was a world where I could trust no one and a world where I didn’t fit in. I needed an escape.
Some teenagers turn to drugs or alcohol. I watched Days of Our Lives. No matter how terrible my day had been, I could come home, put the VHS tape in the VCR, and get my much-needed 60 minute escape from reality. The people of Salem didn’t care what I looked like, how popular I was, or what my grades were. They had their own problems to worry about- problems that made mine seem like nothing in comparison. For an hour, I could get absorbed by the story and live in a world where the women always looked beautiful, the men were capable of emotions, and no one ever seemed to work. By the time the episode was over, I was ready to face another day.
These days, I live a very full and exciting life. I’ve got an amazing husband, wonderful friends and many hobbies. Still, if I’m home at 1:00 PM on weekdays, I turn on NBC and am greeted by the cast I’ve come to know and love. That old familiar feeling of escaping returns, and once again I am riveted by the residents of Salem and their triumphs and tragedies. Some may call me names, but I know better than to turn my back on an old friend.

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