First, the story behind the story:
The year was 2007. I had just moved from Upstate South Carolina to Charleston, and every week I had a very important appointment with my roommate. It involved a trip to Sonic and a TV show called Gilmore Girls. The tradition actually started when I was a Freshman at Wofford College. Thursday night was still Must See TV back then. At 7:30, four of my hallmates and I would walk to the campus coffee shop. I would order a white chocolate mocha, they would order their beverages of choice, and we would take them back to the room with the largest TV (not mine...it was a white 13” TV/VHS combo) and watch Friends.
Friends had been a part of my life for five years by then. My 8th grade band teacher referenced it one day during class, I went home and watched an episode, and I was hooked. And just so you know how hooked I was, before the days of DVD collections, I recorded a rerun of every episode, in order, on VHS, creating my own version of a Friends box set.
Friends was the one constant in my life as I took the leap from high school to college. Friends was the one thing that gave me hope that the world hadn’t totally fallen apart when, one Tuesday morning two weeks into my Freshman year, I came in from an 8:00 Calculus class, turned on my little white TV, and instead of Regis and Kelly, found Matt Lauer and Katie Couric talking about the plane that had just flown into the World Trade Center. I had only been watching for a minute when the second plane hit the other tower, and in that moment ‘horrible accident’ turned into ‘intentional attack on the United States’. For two days I thought nothing would ever be the same...there would be ‘before September 11’ and ‘after September 11’. All I wanted was for something that existed ‘before September 11’ to exist, unaltered, ‘after September 11’, for something to be familiar and comforting.
I very specifically remember wondering if Friends would come on that Thursday night. My version of the story goes that all day long was news, news, news, and then suddenly at 8:00 the news stopped and Friends appeared on the screen. It offered a glimmer of hope, thirty minutes of familiarity in the midst of fear and confusion, an occasional laugh that felt both inappropriate and necessary at the same time. Whether or not the timing happened the way I remember it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is what I realized from that experience, that sometimes things that seemingly don’t matter at all can matter the most. If it brings happiness, or joy, or a brief escape from the real world to even one person, it matters immensely.
So you can imagine my sense of loss when Friends ended in 2004. Or maybe you can’t. I’m not sure if it’s normal to grieve over the loss of a TV show. But normal or not, coffee and Friends night had evolved into Zaxby’s and Friends night, and in the fall of 2004 I found myself sitting on the couch with a Wings ‘n Things and nothing to watch.
Now to make what should have been the longest part of a short story the shortest part of a story that got much longer than I meant for it to be.
Gilmore Girls turned out to be a welcome replacement for Friends. And if I’m being honest, while a Friends episode on Nick at Nite before bed is always enjoyable, I have never seen a better-written or better-casted show than Gilmore Girls. It was lighthearted. It was quirky. It was a little bit whimsical. It was sixty minutes of the world I wished I lived in. And then in 2007, just after I moved across the state, just when I needed something familiar to take with me, Gilmore Girls ended. Seemingly forever (not so, according to recent buzz from Netflix, but should a Gilmore Girls mini series of sorts actually come to fruition that will be another blog entry for another day...I can’t even get my hopes up about that right now). So my roommate and I were left with our extra long coneys, our tater tots, our honey mustard, a diet Cherry Coke for me, a Dr. Pepper for her, and another void to fill.
In 2007, Lost was right up there with Gilmore Girls on my list of ‘Must See TV’. But in a not-at-all lighthearted, not-at-all quirky, not-at-all whimsical, not-at-all the world I wished I lived in sort of way. I’m an absolute baby when it comes to any sort of horror-inducing entertainment, and most weeks Lost was right at the edge of my limit, so I didn’t think it would make for a very enjoyable dining experience.
Which brings me to Pushing Daisies. You’ve probably never seen it. Only six million people watched it every week, which in today’s TV world would keep you on the air for ten years, but in the fall of 2007, six million viewers got you cancelled after two seasons. Pushing Daisies was everything I loved about Gilmore Girls taken to the extreme. It was bright. It was colorful. It was funny. It was clever. It was lighthearted. It was quirky. It was nothing but whimsical. And it was about murder. Each week, a murder was solved by the pie-maker, who possessed the gift (or curse) of bringing people back to life with a single touch, and his childhood sweetheart Charlotte Charles, who the pie-maker just happened to bring back to life in the first episode.
Which got me thinking. Could I write a story about a serious subject and make it lighthearted and whimsical?
A short story entitled ... "Unquestionably Questionable" ... was the result of that thought.
Click the picture below to read the story.