Soap Operas

The Young & The Restless. My sisters and I used to watch it with our mother. She has been gone 10 years now but never, ever does the theme music to Y&R come on that we don’t go back to sitting on the couch on a summer day with Mom. Back then, we eked out an hour a day together, no matter what, enjoying the antics of the Newman family.

For this Mother’s Day, we take a look at the Y&R years with our mother:

THE SACRED HOUR: Y&R came on from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Later, The Bold & The Beautiful would extend the sacred hour by another half.

PREP period: Sandwiches were to be made with plenty of time to carry them into the living room. There was only a little TV in the kitchen. We had to round the bend to get into the living room to get a full-size view. Woe to the daughter caught slathering mayo on a slice of bread when the show started. She would be shunned until the first commercial break, none of her questions answered, punishment for her carelessness.

COMMERCIAL BREAKS: These were not a good time to start an in-depth conversation. You would only be cut short when the show came back on. However, you could shout out guesses about who shot the guy in Nikki’s horse stable, but wasn’t it ironic that it turned out he was actually a woman who had a thing for Nikki? And Sheila’s coming back too, I bet. (Insert heated debate on how many times Sheila’s “died” on the show: 3? 4? 5. Definitely 5. Or was it 6?)

Visitors: Our mother barely disguised her disgust if our father happened home for lunch during the Sacred Hour. He’d blow into the kitchen, wait for her to make an unanticipated extra sandwich during the prep period (thereby throwing us off schedule), then camp out to watch the show with us. Horrors. 

He loved to point out huge plot holes and make fun of the Newman family, as well as his own wife and daughters for watching them. Once, he went so far as to suggest Victor lose the moustache.

Our mother would eventually erupt in Y&R rage. We’re trying to listen! she would shout. Our father would answer, What? in glee, taking a huge bite of his sandwich, catching the roast beef falling from it, laughing. Finally, it was time for him to go. When the door shut, our mother would mutter, Oh, that man!

Recording: Initially, there was no recording of the show. If we missed it, we missed it. Nightmare beyond nightmares.

Trips to town were planned precisely around the Sacred Hour. If we screwed up, we had to stoop to the worst fix of fandom known to man: a summary paragraph in a soap opera digest.

Later, we had a BETA, then a VCR tape recorder. There wasn’t the ability to set up a program yet, so instead we’d have to judge how much room was left on the tape cassette (hold it up to the light—half, you needed at least half a roll left), before popping it in and hitting “Record.” There were lots of complications with this method.

One. You might miscalculate the space left on the tape. Missing the last five minutes would put everyone in a tailspin, shouting would ensue and, sometimes, a fist to the top of the machine.

Two. You’d have to fast-forward over at least an hour or two of tape, depending on how long you took at Meijer. This job was best assigned to someone with patience. In other words, no one qualified.

And three. Sometimes the shows ran together so much, you couldn’t find the beginning of that day’s soap. Victor was lost in a different plane crash every day but we hadn’t seen this fireball yet, had we? 

Finally, the day came when we had a VCR that could be programmed. But, and this proved to be a problem many times over, you had to remember to turn the VCR on before you left the house so the programming would work.

Oh the angst of being halfway to town and doubting if the VCR was left on. It was worse than wondering if your curling iron was left on. Missing the soap was a blame game that came in a close second to burning down the house.

We wonder now what our mother would think of today’s DVRs. A true gift to soap opera fans everywhere. But, frankly, they take some of the fun out of it, don’t they?

We’re sad to say we just don’t watch Y&R  anymore, having long lost the story line. It’s just not the same without Mom.

But every now and then, the old instinct will kick in: We’ll see it’s 12:15 p.m. and a zeal will overtake us.

We’ll speed-make a bologna sandwich (Mom’s favorite), silence everyone in the house, commandeer the TV and clamor onto the couch, just in time to hear the opening notes of Y&R .

It’s all we need to hear to take us back to the days with Mom.

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