Steve Flores

Sunday, Feb 24 2013 08:00 PM

STEVE FLORES: Soap watching brings memories of Mom, Grandma

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    By The Californian

    Californian contributing columnist Steve Flores.

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By Steve Flores

At first I thought we had visitors.

I was working in our den on my computer. The design of our home allows you to hear the television and conversations from our living room, which is about 20 feet away from the den.

I heard my wife, Susie, talking in our living room. I hadn't heard the doorbell ring, so I wondered who had come to pay us a visit. And she sounded irritated. Believe me, after 39 years of blissful marriage, you are able to instantly detect different ranges of emotion from your wife's voice alone. Like a circus act, you could be in a room full of people, hear your wife speak your name and you are able to, with total certainty, know her mood.

My wife's one-sided conversation went something like this, "I can't believe you let Brooke do this to you again." "Eric is such a fool." "Taylor and Ridge are back together...again?"

I have a large family, but to my best recollection none of my nephews, nieces or cousins is named Brooke, Taylor or Ridge. So I had no clue what she was talking about.

I walked into the living room to investigate. There was my wife sitting alone sporadically talking to the television set watching "The Bold and the Beautiful." For the uninitiated, "The Bold and the Beautiful" is, according to multiple sources, the most-watched soap opera in the world.

What was even more surprising is when I looked up at the television. I was stunned I recognized the veteran actors who played the characters Eric and Stephanie Forrester. They are original cast members from when the series began in 1987. I don't think I have ever watched one episode of "The Bold and the Beautiful." I thought to myself, "How and why did I recognize them?"

And like I had just entered a space time wormhole, I was mentally transported back to the late 1950s and found my answer.

The scenario was almost exactly the same except I was probably about 8 or 9 years old. I was home sick from school. It was early afternoon. Although I wasn't feeling completely well, I was enjoying the rare sensation of having the twin bed all to myself. At night, I shared the bed with my older brother, Willie, and younger brother, Andy.

I could hear my Mom talking in the living room. I snuck up and peaked in, and as though she were speaking directly to another adult, she was talking intermittently to our small black and white television set.

She was watching the "Guiding Light," "As the World Turns" or "Search for Tomorrow." At 11:30 every weekday morning, everything stopped in our home so my Mom could have "her time" to catch up on the drama of her beloved soap operas.

After we lost my Mom to leukemia many years ago, my maternal Grandmother came to live with us and continued the soap opera tradition. Now it was "General Hospital," "All My Children" or "Days of Our Lives." And it was the same scenario all over again. Talking to the television set, no one interrupts soap opera time and never ever speak ill of "Search for Tomorrow's" young Jeffery who ran in front of a speeding truck and died on impact.

I didn't realize that through osmosis, I had been unknowingly exposed to "The Bold and the Beautiful" throughout my 39-year marriage to Susie. And that somehow these soap opera characters had become like visiting family. You could relate to some of the story lines, but mostly, you were glad they weren't happening to us.

Don't get me wrong. This is not just a female phenomenon. Just ask my closest friend Steve Mendez how he feels about Steffy from the "Bold and the Beautiful" getting pregnant.

So now when I hear Susie taking to the television in our living room now, I know it's probably "The Bold and the Beautiful." And somehow it connects me to long ago memories of my Mom and Grandmother who may not have always been bold, but who were indeed caring, loving and most of all beautiful.

-- Steve Flores is a contributing columnist for The Californian. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian. Email him at floressteve32@yahoo.com.

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