Sunday, November 4, 2012

BJ and the Bear is not a gay porn title !

I have a friend named Kirstin, who I work with and she was born the year I graduated high school. 
While we do actually have a lot in common, memories of what we grew up watching on television are not one of them. 
I find myself often reminiscing of the TV shows I grew up with only to find a bewildered, unfamiliar and often disgusted look on her face.  I recently spent a good 15 minutes trying to convince her that BJ and the Bear was not a gay porn title but an actual TV show in which a trucker traveled the country's highways in a red and white Kenworth K-100 cab over semi truck with his pet chimpanzee named Bear. BJ and Bear would get into a wide variety of shenanigans that often included getting mixed up in local crime and coming to the aid of a beautiful woman.
Kirstin was not convinced a network would actually air such a show and I ended up having to send her a YouTube clip as proof this show existed. 

The more I got to thinking of the premise of this show I often wondered how BJ kept from keeping the monkey from going on wild poo flinging binges, learning sign language that would result in Bear starting his own trucking company or simply taking that chance that Bear may one day go "ape-shit", attack BJ and tear off his face.  In my opinion any one of these scenarios would have made a fine season cliffhanger.

In the early Eighties I would spend Saturday nights with my mom curled up on the couch watching The Love Boat ( I did not have a lot of fiends as a child), and even if I did I am sure I would have preferred watching The Love Boat with my mom. 

The series was basically a string of B-list elderly actors who would stumble aboard a Princess Cruise bound for exotic locations while trying to rekindle their dying romance, or there was a string of B-list young actors who played the horny singles on the prowl for a one night stand that would turn into a meaningful long term relationship.

The Pacific Princess was a world away from the bass boat we kept in our driveway in rural Oklahoma and I could not get enough of that show. I later found out that that the actress who played the beloved Cruise Director Julie McCoy had a serious cocaine habit during the time the show was on, this would explain how she stayed so positive and perky around all those pathetic silver-haired seniors who had given up on their lives.

Following The Love Boat was a series called Fantasy Island.  Fantasy Island  was about a mysterious island where people could go to live out their fantasies.   The show featured Ricardo Montalban as Mr. Roarke and his pet chimpanzee Tattoo.  Okay,,,Tattoo was not actually a monkey, he was a little person with a thick accent that was also always getting into shenanigans and I had become so used to seeing this played out on BJ and the Bear that that is what he became in my mind. Tattoo's main job seemed to be to spot the plane that would bring the passengers to the island. After spotting the plane Tattoo would become overly excited and start screaming "dee plane, dee plane!"  I am still not sure why air traffic control was a part of Tattoo's job description but he seemed to enjoy it,,,a little too much.

Ricardo Montalban was always a little too uppity for my taste and seemed to be a bit pervy and controlling when it came to the fantasies of other people.  Montalban had also starred in a Chrysler Cordoba commercial in which he had described the interior of the car as having "rich Corinthinan leather"  I think the car commercial is what really made me despise the actor the most. The distinguished thespian said these words in a way that, for me sounded like he was saying "bitch please!, your broke ass will never be able to afford this rich corinthian leather so just stick to that shitty Ford Pinto and we won't have any problems, you heard?"  I hate to admit it but if he was thinking that he was right.  The only time the words rich, Corinthian or leather came up in a conversation in our household we were most likely talking about Hershey's dark chocolate, the Bible or the freshly skinned buck my dad had just killed that was hanging off of my swing set in the backyard.

At a younger age I can remember watching Sesame Street.  This is a show that is still running to this day and you may very well know the characters Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch and Bert and Ernie. Sesame Street of course centers on the goings on of furry puppets and at this same time my aunt and uncle were using these puppets as part of their youth ministry.  My aunt and uncle would re-enact Bible stories with these characters and I can just remember being scared to death of what they were saying and what was happening.
I have blocked a lot of this time out of my memory but I am pretty sure I can recall the Cookie Monster hanging off of a cross.  While we are on this subject I don't think it was fair to use these characters as Jesus is probably not very cool with the relationship going on between Bert and Ernie.

There was also The Electric Company on at this time during the day, but we were not really urged to indulge in this show as there was a very wide range of ethnicity in the cast.
I was also very unfamiliar with the urban settings in this program and occasionally you would see an actual mugging going on in the background.

Also for my viewing pleasure there was Mr. Rogers NeighborhoodMr. Rogers Neighborhood was a show my mother hated.  I think she hated it in a way that many adults now want to pull a knife on the children's show character Barney the Dinosaur.  Instead of being overly zealous and and zany like Barney, Mr. Rogers appeared as if he had been given a very high dose of anti-anxiety medication. 

The show was very slow moving and Fred Rogers although I am sure well meaning seemed to talk to his viewers as if they were mentally challenged or perhaps standing on the ledge of a 50 story building. After the seven minutes it took Rogers to say hello and welcome you to the show there was another fifteen minutes of just him  taking off his shoes and putting on another pair.  Whereas this was a prerequisite for me to even start kindergarten, Rogers went at this every day at a snails pace and you would often wonder if he had perhaps slipped into a mild coma during this part of the show.

This children's show also contained two things I hate; puppets and snobbishness.  The puppets reigned over an imaginary kingdom called the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and had such names as King Friday XIII, Lady Elaine Fairchilde and Henrietta Pussycat. 
I got absolutely nothing out of this show unless you include nightmares as a childhood bonus.
This show also featured a trolley that would travel around the Kingdom and toot it's arrival.   I often imagined it was a locomotive that was carrying a mix of deadly weapons of mass destruction that would derail and destroy the Kingdom in a horrible chemical fire, but all it ever did was toot it's annoying arrival and assume made many a drug run to keep Rogers in stock of Lithium and Xanax.

These are just a few of the reasons I am who I am today. I hot mess of a man who can trace his disaster of a life to childhood TV shows and thinks that puppets are the source of all evil in the world today.  I'm talking to you ELMO !