Ever find yourself yearning for a simpler time?
If you answered, “ALWAYS,” then you are living in today’s overly complicated world, where everything is possible, and nothing is clear. Our generation is on the other side of social, economic, technological, and political upheavals; while great in some ways, it’s a total disaster in others. And it’s freakin’ hard to keep spinning the gerbil wheel of duty, honor, and responsibility.
I’m exhausted by it all, and so are my friends. We often talk about how it seems that our parents didn’t deal with the shit we do, nor did they have to. One income was sufficient, and choices were relatively limited anyways. Kids bopped around town, and adults didn’t have to worry much about safety. And our favorite TV shows reflected back these comparatively easier times, which always came to neat conclusions in 30 minutes flat.
On that note, I’d like to thank my BBF (Best Bitch, er Bastard, Forever) Bobby for coming up with a kick ass blog topic for me this week: an ode to a favorite classic show, The Brady Bunch. Or, as he put it, “I want The Brady Bunch’s problems!”
To that, I offer you six ways to live like The Brady Bunch and simplify your life:
6) Be Creative OR You Don’t Want The Brady Bunch’s Problems, You Want Their Solutions: Life in a large, blended family has a whole host of problems, even for Mike and Carol Brady. From figuring out which pediatrician to use when the first health crisis arose (measles, all six kids — seriously, one sickie throws me into a frenzy) to teaching your teen to drive safely, the Brady ‘rents always had smart and creative ways to solve problems. Phone bill too high? Install a pay phone and make those kids learn the value of a dime… and a dollar! Children fighting over trading stamps? Make them build a house of cards; winner gets a row boat or a sewing machine, depending on gender. When you go in all stealth like that, the lesson is always learned — kids calm down, compromise, and get the message, loud and clear and on their own, no less!
5) Be Yourself: This was a lesson that we learned mostly from our favorite, tortured, demented Brady — middle child Jan. Whether she was blowing off wearing glasses, putting on a dark wig, tossing Marcia’s trophies in the trash (“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia…!), or grappling with looking like an unattractive, kooky aunt (the wonderful Imogene Coco as “Aunt Jenny”), she routinely tore herself apart, only to figure out that she was perfect the way she was — quirky yet smart, unpopular yet charmingly eccentric. I’m gonna keep this in mind next time I’m the only mom in a skull and cross bones Derby Dolls t-shirt or pulling up to a business meeting in a Gatorade-and-Chipotle-burrito-stained Prius.
4) Chose Right, Reject Wrong, Stay Groovy: What would you do if you found a wallet stuffed with $1,100? If you even have to think about the bills you’d pay or the Alexander McQueen flats you’d buy, you’re missing the point: all you have is your integrity, damnit, so do the right thing and return the wallet! You will then open yourself up to the Universe rewarding you with many amazing opportunities, like winding up on a TV talent show, performing as “The Silver Platters,” and winning just enough to pay off your debt from buying an engraved silver platter for your parents’ anniversary. And you may even get to keep the hipster costumes, too.
3) Get Help You Can Rely On – One word: Alice. Even when they wanted to give the poor ol’ gal a break, she wouldn’t take it. I don’t think I ever saw Carol lift one coral-manicured finger to help around the house. Wait, I take that back: one time she made strawberry preserves for a Hoedown dance, but Alice still helped and probably did the shittiest part (sterilizing the bottles). Oh, and make friends with grocers like Sam the Butcher — I am always at a loss for what the hell to make for dinner that we’re not totally sick of (chicken, this means YOU), but in Brady Land, Sam’s always ready with a bad pun and choice pork chops. (Yes, and applesauce… you know you wanted to add that!)
2) Family First: From sibling rivalry to miscommunication, ego, and dueling agendas, the family unit is constantly under pressure to stay in tact. But the Bradys know that as long as they have each other’s backs, it will all be fine. Got a bully named Bobby Hinton giving you shit about your lisp? (“Baby talk, baby talk, it’s a wonder you can walk…”) Get your bro to punch the bastard’s tooth out (but don’t tease Hinton about his new lisp, because “words hurt.”) Is a fussy client unfairly demanding that you spend all of your free time with her and away from your family? Let her come over for dinner, and the fam will take her out with insults, rudeness, and general idiocy — you may lose the deal, but save your sanity. And when in doubt, take a family vacation. But don’t touch the Tiki.
1) Gratitude Makes Everything Easier: Wracking your brain to remember which episode was on the power of gratitude? Hint: It wasn’t a lesson learned on-screen, but an off-screen drama starring Robert Reed, the actor who played Mike Brady. Reed was a serious Shakespearean actor who took the job despite the fact he felt television was beneath him, and situation comedies were below television. So even though the actors who played his family became his lifelong surrogate brood and despite the fact that The Brady Bunch brought him personal fame and fortune, he rejected it. Did you know that he clashed with show creator Sherwood Schwartz over slipping on an egg in the episode where Mike and Carol switch jobs and she plays baseball with the boys, and he cooks with the girls? Or that he almost came to blows with Schwartz over having to talk to a mouse in the episode where Jan plays practical jokes and accidentally releases the subject of Greg’s science project? In the end, Sherwood wrote Reed out of the final Brady Bunch episode (#117, “The Hair-brained Scheme) when Reed complained about the use of a non-FDA approved hair tonic, which he thought was “inane slapstick.” Had he found gratitude for all the riches The Brady Bunch provided, I believe he would have found life much happier, simpler, and easier.
So if you see me writing in my diary, joining a Davy Jones fan club, and playing ball in the house (despite the fact that mom always said not to), just know that I’m keeping it simple, I’m keeping it easy…. and I’m keeping it Brady.
Now go on and have yourself a Sunshine Day!