In 1961, I was only 5 years old. The world around me, my dysfunctional family, made no sense to me at all even at that young age… I was very conscious of the fact that my family was different. It was different than at my friends house and it was certainly different than my “friends” on TV. Even at 5, I knew I wanted out of my family and to have one of my own…because that would be a better, perfect family.
When the Dick Van Dyke Show came on TV, I studied every word, every moment and, even at the age of 5, appreciated the innuendos and predicaments both he and Laura would get themselves into. I was convinced I was going to grow up and marry Dick Van Dyke…I just needed to be able to get away from my family (I couldn’t even cross the street at this point).
I imagined my husband would come home each day after work and trip over the footstool. He’d be so engaging, I would be riveted by every word. Of course, there would be trouble, but it would be all wrapped up and end happily in 30 minutes or less. Even if we found ourselves in a haunted cabin, or he thought I was an alien that needed walnuts to breathe, but with great certainty our son would have a wacky middle name (I’m not sure about rosebud though) that came with a story large enough to fill a half hour. I would of course wear black capris and dance at a moments notice.
After two failed marriages, (what was I thinking?!…we’ll save that for another post) I finally realized something…in order to marry Robert Petrie, you have to actually be Laura Petrie.
Now, I did meet Mr. Right almost 20 years ago, but he’s no Robert Petrie. He doesn’t come home from work each day and tell me stories about a zany workplace, he doesn’t come home every day with a new predicament he has to get out of and he’s never once come home and tripped over a footstool. If I’m being perfectly honest, there are days my husband comes home and worries about his job so much he fails to even engage with me, he can’t remember a joke to save his life and the only thing he trips over is the dog. He does bring me coffee in bed every morning, he will do pretty much anything just to please me, he always speaks kindly about me in public and without fail he will take my hand at every street crossing or parking lot…plus, he looks the other way when I treat our dog like a child and he loves and treats my grandchildren as if they were his own.
I’m not 5 anymore, I’m 56. I know TV families are fake and a successful marriage takes work. If I am honest with myself, I’m no Laura Petrie…and I know now that’s the only way you grow up and marry Robert Petrie.
Oh, Rob! If I only knew then what I know now!