In honor of the 37 anniversary of a show I loved as a child, let me tell you a little bit about the things I learned watching a campy romance detective show, called Hart to Hart.
Summer 1981. I was a young child on vacation with my folks, staying at my Grandfather and his wife’s home. He had remarried after my grandmother passed away. It was late, and I probably should have been in bed. But summer. And my parents we talking with family they didn’t get to see often. My brother and some cousins were off playing somewhere and I was flipping channels on the TV.
I can still see her tv sitting there in the living room. It was bigger than the one we had at home. In my head, I can still see the airplane taking off that screen for the start of a show I had never been allowed to stay up late enough to watch. And suddenly, the most amazing sparkling blue eyes and dark hair I had ever seen graced the screen. With an impish grin and boyish charm, he was dazzling. This man was gorgeous. I was mesmerized by someone named Robert Wagner, as only a very tired ten year old can be.
The next images on the screen were of this beautiful wavy red haired lady. Suddenly I was cursing my own stick straight dishwater blonde head. She was playful, fun and graceful. Oh to be just. like. her! In that one setting, Stefanie Powers became my definition of what it meant to be a woman.
And then there is their quirky house man/butler/friend/family played by Lionel Stander. His role is hard to define. He calls it simply taking care of them. Everyone needs a Max!
The images from that episode are burned into my head. It was summer, so the current season had ended, but the newest one had not started. This means reruns. For those of you blessed to grow up in the age of DVD, this meant the only way we could see a show was to wait for whatever night it was on, and if it was between seasons, we had to suffer the indignant insult of re-watching episodes. I was ok with it that summer, as they were all new to me then. This also meant I watched Downhill to Death in the summer. They were skiing in Vail, I was sweating in Indiana.
Yes, I fully admit I was an odd child. My friends were all about the young teenage boys, I was enthralled with this adult couple. One of the things I learned watching this show is marriage could look much different from the ones I saw around me. This couple was in love with, looked out for, and trusted each other. They were together in almost everything they did. They fully believed each other. Somewhere in my pre-teenage mind, I set out to find a man I could trust like that, who would trust me like that.
I learned a man who could make you laugh was a very good thing. To be able to have fun with the people you live with creates joy in the home. Being friends and lovers is an amazing chemistry. And while you want someone who can be serious when he had to be, fun that is not at the expense of someone else is a treasure.
Then there is the fighting factor. I learned you want someone who is willing to fight for you, or for those around you, or for those who can not fight for themselves. The champion of the underdog. A hero who steps in to right the wrongs and injustices around you. When someone has a heart for the hurting, they are looking out for those who fall into cannot help themselves category.
While I’m sure that given enough time, I could come up with a way more things, the last thing I’ll share is their affection. This couple was always affectionate, holding hands, walking arm in arm, kissing each other’s cheeks, head, lips. Even in pretty tense situations, he would take her hand to lead her, or she would grab his arm to follow him. I believe that affection gave them strength and comfort when they needed it.
Now, before you ask, yes I am fully aware they are fictional characters. Yes, I know real life isn’t that perfect. However, I also don’t think it hurts us at all to strive for the impossible. We never know how close we can get until we try.