The Wonder Years
- Narrator: Nineteen-sixty-eight...I was twelve years old. A lot happened that year. Dennis McLain won thirty-one games..."The Mod Squad" hit the air...And I graduated from Hillcrest Elementary, and entered junior high school. But we'll get to that. There's no pretty way to put this...I grew up in the suburbs. I guess most people think of the suburb as a place with all the disadvantages of the city, and none of the advantages of the country. And vice versa. But, in a way, those really were the wonder years for us there in the suburbs. It was kind of a golden age for kids.
- Narrator: It was the first kiss for both of us. We never really talked about it afterward, but I think about the events of that day again and again, and somehow I know that Winnie does too. Whenever some blowhard starts talking about the anonymity of the suburbs, or the mindlessness of the TV generation. Because we know that inside each one of those identical boxes, with its Dodge parked out front, and its white bread on the table, and its TV set glowing blue in the falling dusk, there were people with stories. There were families bound together in the pain and the struggle of love. There were moments that made us cry with laughter. And there were moments, like that one, of sorrow and wonder.
- [Paul is holding Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex]
- Narrator: I had known Paul since he was 36 hours old, and never before had I seen such fire in his eyes.
- Paul: [whispering] Buy these books and act casual. [hides the adult book in his jacket]
- Narrator: Maybe we both realized that growing up doesn’t always have to be a straight line, but a series of advances and retreats. Maybe we just felt like swinging. But whatever it was, Winnie and I made an unspoken pact that day to stay kids for a little while longer.
My Father's Office [1.3]Edit
- Narrator: And then sometimes, you knew you shouldn't do it, but you just couldn't help yourself. You gave him lip. I guess we really didn't understand why he was so hard on us sometimes. Because sometimes, and I remember these times so distinctly, my dad could be great. He could be so much fun. You never wanted that feeling to end. And then, for some reason, it always would.
- Narrator: That night my father stood there, looking up at the sky the way he always did. But suddenly I realized I wasn't afraid of him in quite the same way anymore. The funny thing is, I felt like I lost something.
- Louis: Don't accept all this death and then justify it. It is wrong! Your friends should be alive...they should be enjoying dinner, and arguing with their kids, just like you are.
- Jack: What do you know about it? Who the hell are you to say that?!
- Louis: [pulls a piece of paper out of his pocket] You see this, man? This is my draft notice. In two weeks, I can go to jail, I can go to Canada or, I can go get shot, full of holes, like your friend Brian Cooper. You keep thinking the way you do, Mr. Arnold, and these two [points to Kevin and Wayne] will be next. And I just hope that's what they want.
- Narrator: Who was right, and who was wrong? Well, I'm supposed to be an adult now, and I still can't completely figure that one out. But at some point, late at night, near sleep, the ideas and the disagreements sort of dissolve, and you're just left with the people. And people were no different then, as they've always been. And always will be. Young girls get their hearts broken. Men and women suffer alone, over the choices they've made. And young boys, full of confusion... full of fear... full of love and courage... grow up stealthily in their sleep.
The Phone Call [1.5]Edit
- Narrator: There are very few things in life as purely terrifying as calling a twelve-year-old girl on the telephone. Especially a really cute twelve-year-old girl.
- Narrator: And suddenly I got this funny feeling. Maybe I was blowing this whole thing out of proportion. I mean, Lisa wasn't going to laugh at me. And anyway, what if she did? Did it really matter? And that's when I knew what I had to do. I just had to pick up the phone... and call her.
Dance With Me [1.6]Edit
- Narrator: When it came to dancing, every member of the family had something to impart to me.
- Karen: You have to be free like a bird!
- [Karen is dancing to Ravi Shankar]
- [Scene changes to Kevin's parents, who are showing Kevin a traditional slow dance to Glenn Miller]
- [Scene changes to Wayne leaping around to Louie, Louie by the King's Men]
- Narrator: But I learned my own style was preferable.
- [Kevin is alone is his room jamming to Born to be Wild by Mars Bonfire]
- Narrator: And so Winnie and I had our one slow dance after all. But things wouldn't be the same between us. We were getting older. And whether we wanted it or not, the Lisa Berlinis and the Kirk McCrays were changing us by the minute. All we could do was close our eyes and wish that the slow song would never end.
Heart of Darkness [2.1]Edit
- Narrator: As seventh grade wore on, I began to have nightmares. I'm walking into a sort of a - a cave. A long dark tunnel. I think Paul and Winnie are with me. But then - then - they're not. I'm all alone. I don't even want to go into the cave - I'm, I'm terrified. But I just know that I have to keep going - deeper, and deeper. So deep, it's like I can't even remember what the daylight is like anymore, and suddenly - I'm in second period math class. In pajamas. With feet! I guess I was under a lot of stress. There are a lot of things about junior high life that might seem simple to an outsider... but they're not. Take the fifteen minutes before homeroom every morning. What you do with those fifteen minutes says pretty much everything there is to say about you as a human being.
- Narrator: When I look back on it now, I feel sorry for Gary. When all was said and done, he was just a little kid, and I guess he needed friends. But all Paul and I knew that night was - that we wanted to go home.
- Norma: Kevin! What are you doing here? Did something happen? Are you OK?
- Kevin: Yeah, we're fine. We just felt like coming home.
- Narrator: It was the truth. But not the whole truth. And looking at my mom and my dad - standing there in their bathrobes, worried about me - I felt a little sick about that. I don't know why, but that night - for the first time in a long time - I didn't have a single nightmare.
Our Miss White [2.2]Edit
- Narrator: Nineteen sixty-eight was a strange and passionate time. Things that had seemed impossible were happening all around us. The events of those days brought every emotion to the surface. We felt things strongly then. And we felt them together. I guess we all got caught up in it. Even me. And Miss White. What was it about her that affected me so profoundly? Her sensitivity? Her warmth? Her intelligence? Maybe all of those. [The camera slowly pans down her white blouse and pauses.] Maybe more. Maybe much more.
- Narrator: It was a strange and passionate time. Some of our dreams dissolved into thin air. They almost seem comical now. But some of our dreams are lasting and real.
- Narrator: That Christmas of nineteen-sixty eight, my brother, Wayne, and I fell in love. With color-TV. It was more than love. We were witnessing a modern miracle. And we worshipped it like aborigines from the black-and-white stone-age. It was the first thing we ever agreed on. Even Mom and Karen tended to mist up in the presence of that almost-living color.
- Narrator: I don't even remember what I got for Christmas that year. But Dad gave Mom a bracelet that knocked her socks off. Oh, yeah... and he did get us that color-TV... two years later. For me, that year Christmas stopped being about tinsel and wrapping paper, and started being about memory. At first I was disappointed. Until I learned that memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you wish to never lose. And I learned from Winnie, that in a world that changes too fast, the best we can do is wish each other Merry Christmas. [Kevin opens Winnie's present, which is a four-leaf clover] And good luck.
Steady As She Goes [2.4]Edit
- Narrator: Once upon a time... a boy's popularity was based on kickball abilities... pea-shooting range... and how much of the alphabet he could squeeze off with one burp. For the same boy to acquire a comparable level of popularity in junior high school... he's gonna need a girl. The ceremony rarely strays from tradition. Fully unprepared for his certain someone to be surrounded by three giggling friends... boy grows thirsty... and proceeds to drink. He will continue to drink until the gaggle disperses... or his stomach explodes - whichever comes first. Girl... acutely aware of boy's presence... warns her friends that she will, in fact, die... if they abandon her. To no avail. She is forsaken, left to yell a meaningless...
- Girl: Uh, you guys!
- Narrator: After them... and tend to the business of rearranging her locker. Seeing his opportunity... boy prepares for final approach. He takes one last breath and lunges forward. Girl feigns surprise. And they engage in small talk. Feeling the full weight of the moment... boy realizes that those three gallons of fountain water have just funneled directly to his palms, armpits, and feet. Down to his final wisps of saliva... boy decides that the time has come to quote-unquote... "pop the big one."
- Boy: You wanna go steady? [Frowns]
- Girl: Sure! [Smiles]
- Narrator: And just like that, the ceremony is complete... leaving the newly-formed couple with... absolutely nothing left to say to each other.
- Narrator: [after seeing Winnie and Kirk kiss] And so it finally happened. My poor twelve-year-old heart finally crumbled into a little pile of dust, and blew away. It was over. I was never gonna to get her back. It was time for a little self-respect. It was time to let go. Time to move on. After all, who needed women? Who needed friends? I'd just walk alone from now on. Yep, that was me, Kevin Arnold - lone wolf.
Just Between Me and You and Kirk and Paul and Carla and Becky [2.5]Edit
- Kevin: [to Kirk, about Winnie] She's not mad at you. She likes you. She's not sure if she likes you likes you, but she likes you. When she first liked you, she liked you liked you...unless she just thought she liked you when she really just liked you. But she likes you.
- Kirk: I knew it...I'm a dead man.
- Kevin: I just have to know if you like me or not. And don't give any of that... "like me" like me stuff.
- Narrator: Well, that was it. A straightforward, face-to-face, yes-or-no question. And I was going to stand there until I got my answer.
- Winnie: I don't know.
- Kevin: "I don't know"?! What do you mean you don't know? [Frowns]
- Winnie: I mean I don't know. I really don't know! I wish everyone would just leave me alone! I don't know what I'm doing.
- Narrator: This was something new. I mean, I always figured girls knew exactly what they wanted. They knew - they had a plan. Or maybe they didn't. Maybe they were just as confused as we were. Isn't that great? It - it's horrible. They don't know either. That means nobody knows. As I stood there that cold night, I realized for the first time in a long time that Winnie and I were feeling the same thing. We were both completely... miserable.
Pottery Will Get You Nowhere [2.6]Edit
- Narrator: In all the years I spent growing up at my parents' house, I don't think I ever heard them use the word "relationship". Not once. "Indigestion"... "taxes"... "damn" - these were words you heard a lot. I guess my mom just expected my dad to be a good man - honest, loyal, a good provider... hopefully possessed of good table manners. And my dad expected my mom to be a good woman - honest, loyal, a good mother. And hopefully a good cook. And that was about it. But if my parents didn't know much about relationships, they knew a lot about marriage. Like how to make a joint-decision. Mom would choose what she liked... Dad would choose what he liked...then they'd settle on something no one of our species could like. They could completely disagree about something, without directly contradicting each other. One thing my parents would never, ever do... is yell at each other in front of the kids.
- Jack: Kevin! Wayne! I told you to knock it off!
- Norma: Boys! That's enough!
- Narrator: Course, they had no problem yelling at the kids in front of each other. I guess I never really thought of my parents as being in love. But maybe that's the best thing for a kid - to never have to think about it. It's just always there. Like the ground you walk on.
- Narrator: The silence that filled our house that night - was like ice. My dad didn't come home till after midnight. [Next morning, Norma burns her hand on the iron and starts to cry. Jack gently puts his hands on her shoulders. She turns around and they hug] I know it sounds strange - but that was the first time... I'd ever seen my parents alone together. I guess sometimes the ground can shift beneath your feet. Sometimes your footing slips - you stumble. And sometimes, you grab what's closest to you, and hold on... as tight as you can.
- Narrator: When you are a little kid, you are a bit of everything - artist, scientist, athlete, scholar. Sometimes, it seems life is like a process of giving those things up, one by one. I guess we all have one thing we regret giving up. One thing we really miss. And we gave up because we were too lazy. We couldn't stick it out. Or because we were afraid.
- Narrator: I never did forget that night. I remember the light glowing from Mrs. Carples' window. And I remember the darkness falling as I sat out there on the street looking in. And now... more than twenty years later... I still remember every note of the music that wandered out into the still night air. The only thing is... I can't remember how to play it anymore.
Hiroshima, Mon Frere [2.8]Edit
- Narrator: Sometimes... when you're a kid... you lie awake at night and ponder the kinds of questions that grownups have long since stopped asking. Questions like - What did it feel like to be dead? Are time and space really infinite? What was there before the universe began? Why are there people like Wayne?
- [Wayne snorts and tosses in his sleep]
- Wayne: Butthead!
- Narrator: I could never figure it out. Even in his sleep, my brother seemed to hate my guts. I guess he'd just never forgiven me for something I did to him very early in life. I'd been born. Then, to make things worse, I stayed.
- Narrator: As my brother and I walked home that day, I guess we both knew that things would never be quite the same between us. Everything would be more complicated now. Now, we both knew... that I could hurt him. The funny thing was, I'm not sure I was glad about that.
- Narrator: It's hard to imagine being twelve years old... and going without certain things. Like three months off in the summertime. Or a good bicycle to cruise the neighborhood on. More than anything though, it's hard to imagine being twelve years old...and not having a best-friend like Paul Pfeiffer. Paul was the nicest kid I ever knew. He would have done anything for me - I know it. And I would have done anything for him. At least, I always thought I would.
- Narrator: [Playing basketball] And then it happened. It was the miracle. It was the impossible. It was the dream come true. [Paul shoots a wild hook-shot, hitting Mr. Cutlip on the head] In that instant... that brief ping of rubber against steel... basketball... became fun again. Well, we still got slaughtered. But for the first time in a long time, it just didn't seem to matter. And Paul and I got back to the way things used to be. The way they would stay... for many years to come.
Walk Out [2.10]Edit
- Narrator: In nineteen-sixty-nine, we had the Vietnam war for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I guess it was inevitable that we stopped paying attention. You had to stop paying attention.
- Narrator: And that's how I started the great Kennedy junior high peace walk out of nineteen-sixty-nine. As I said... some men pursue greatness... and some men have greatness thrust upon them... while they're in the bathroom. I'm not sure we really changed anything that day. I suppose the war would have gone pretty much the same if we'd stayed in home room. But one thing would be different. We wouldn't have the memory to carry with us today, of eight-hundred children on a football field, singing. And... it wouldn't all be on our permanent record.
- Narrator: I guess that's when it hit me, Winnie wasn't going to forgive me for the things I said. It could only mean one thing: she wanted me bad.
- Narrator: In junior high school there were days when you felt like nothing was worth getting out of bed for. But then, you remembered... you were going to see her... Your day was gonna have all these moments... moments that were full of... possibility. When you were sure that something - something... was going to happen. And then, there were the moments that made you really, really... nervous. I don't know why, but ever since I'd broken up with Becky Slater, I felt uneasy whenever I saw her and Winnie together. I started to think... a dumpee could really do a lot of damage to a dumpster.
Narrator: Eddie Pinetti. The scourge of RFK junior high. He gave new meaning to the word "mean". Not that Eddie had any particular reason for being rude, insensitive and sadistic. It was just kinda... who he was... a bully. Eddie was a force of nature. Like tornados... or flash electrical fires. Or fate! That was it. Fate. Maybe I knew even before it happened... that I... had an appointment with destiny.
- Narrator: But then... something inside me... snapped. From deep inside I felt rage! Not just for me, but for every kid who had ever been picked on... humiliated... bullied. For every kid who'd gone home ashamed. I put every shred of dignity and self-respect I had into that punch. Unfortunately... my aim was bad. Even more unfortunately, Eddie's wasn't. Those next ten minutes were... kinda a blur. Still, as Eddie worked out his deep-seated feelings of inadequacy, I began to realize something. Sooner or later this would be over. And I... would survive.
Birthday Boy [2.13]Edit
- Narrator: When Paul and I were little kids... we had our birthdays only four days apart. Come to think of it, we still have our birthdays only four days apart. But I guess birthdays aren't as big a part of life as they used to be. Man - we has some classic parties. Year after year we reached for manhood together. When we fell short... we fell short together. God - we couldn't wait to get older.
- Narrator: And so it turned out to be a great birthday after all. I slow danced with Paul's Aunt Selma. I ate more than Mrs. Pfeiffer could have dreamed possible. And in a funny way... when I look back on it... I sorta feel like it was my bar mitzvah, too.
- Karen: I hate to pop your bubble, Little One, but Mom and Dad are not the sun and the moon. They are people like you and me.
- Narrator: Wrong-o, they were Mom and Dad.
- Narrator: I didn't sleep. I laid there... thinking about what had happened to Karen... to me... to all of us. About how big the world is, and how full of strangers. And how I might never see my sister again. In nineteen-sixty nine, people tried so hard to find themselves. Sometimes they got lost. Sometimes they found their way home again.
Square Dance [2.15]Edit
- Narrator: Some people pass through your life and you never think about them again. Some you think about and wonder what ever happened to them. Some you wonder if they ever wonder what happened to you. And then there are some you wish you never had to think about again. But you do.
- Narrator: In 7th grade, who you are is what other 7th graders say you are. The funny thing is it’s hard to remember the names of kids you spent so much time trying to impress. But you don't forget people like Margaret Farquios. Professor of Biology. Mother of six. Friend to bats.
Whose Woods Are These? [2.16]Edit
- Narrator: Every kid needs a place to go to be a kid. For Paul and Winnie and me, that place was Harper's Woods. It was ten minutes from home if you walked it. But to us, it was a world all its own. We'd grown up there together. Playing games... catching fireflies on long summer evenings. Sure, they called it Harper's Woods, but we knew better. Those woods... belonged to us.
- Narrator: Maybe every human soul deals with loss and grief in its own way. Some curse the darkness. Some play hide and seek. That night Paul and Winnie and I found something we almost lost. We found our spirit. The spirit of children. The bond of memory. And the next day they tore down Harper’s Woods.
How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation [2.17]Edit
- Narrator: Ever since I could remember, the Coopers' annual barbecue had been the first event of summer. It was a neighborhood tradition, the herald of good times. Japanese lanterns glowed in the dusk. And warm breezes carried the smell of burgers sizzling on the grill, and the sounds of kids having the time of their lives. But maybe the best thing about it was that it happened the first week of summer vacation, one day after the last day of school. It was kind of a solemn moment. Eight months of relentless education were finally erupting in a blast of summer madness.
- Narrator: That summer kids everywhere swam, waterskied and sailed.. While Winnie Cooper struggled to keep her head above water. In a family torn apart by anger and grief. I pretty much stayed close to home. I mowed Mr. Erman's lawn. I went fishing with my dad. I watched a man walk on the moon. I considered myself pretty lucky.
Summer Song [3.1]Edit
- Narrator: I knew at that moment, that life was not fair. Sure... I'd write to [Teri], and maybe she'd write me - then what? Could we really wait for each other for the next ten or twelve years? It was hopeless. I'd never felt pain like this before in my entire life. It felt...wonderful.
- Narrator: When you're thirteen, it's a long way to Albuquerque. Teri told me about getting her learner's permit, and taking her first drive with a stick-shift. She wrote of our night at the beach. She told me she missed me so much that she cried herself to sleep at night. And she promised to write to me, until we saw each other again. I keep that letter in an old shoebox. It was the only letter she ever wrote me.
Math Class [3.2]Edit
- Narrator: The transition from summer to fall is a tricky one. Like astronauts returning from space. We had to re-enter the atmosphere of school carefully, so the sudden change in pressure wouldn't kill us.
- Narrator: There are times in life when you think you’re lost. When every turn you take seems wrong. Then just for a moment, you see a light. And so I began that long climb into the light. Only this time I wasn’t alone.
Wayne on Wheels [3.3]Edit
- Narrator: Once upon a time, I lived in a great big house. With a great big yard, and a great big bedroom. And a great big older brother. But by the middle of nineteen-sixty-nine, the house and the yard and the bedroom were are all getting... smaller. Or maybe Wayne and I were getting larger. One thing was certain. We were running out of room. The pressure was building. Then, just when things seemed near the point of no return... something happened. Something unexpected. Something... terrifying.
- Narrator: As we drove home in silence... we began to realize the absurdity of our situation. We were two people, with almost nothing in common... thrown together by circumstance. The harder we struggled against that fact, the more tightly we were bound together. That night, the gap between thirteen and sixteen... got a little smaller. I didn't make it back to the mall for several weeks. Somehow I just didn't feel like gettin' in a car. As for Wayne and me... we'd reached a new understanding. We didn't have to be friends or anything. But we'd always be brothers.
Mom Wars [3.4]Edit
- Narrator: When you're a little boy, you don't have to go very far to find the center of your universe. Mom. She's always there. It's a pretty good arrangement - when you're five. But around age thirteen, there starts to be... a problem. The problem is...she's always there. And I mean always. Now a mom has to be a mom, but a guy's gotta be a guy. And when an irresistible force meets an immovable object... Sooner or later - something's gotta give.
- Narrator: Every war has its casualties and every victory its price. But life goes on. Nothing really changed that night. Nothing big anyway. Just a very little piece of something that was never going to be the same. Not ever. The thing is it's hard to tie a bandage with just one hand...sooner or later though you learn.
On the Spot [3.5]Edit
- Narrator: It was humiliating. I wanted to just walk away. But then, then I realized I couldn't walk away. She looked beautiful. And terrified. And I knew she needed me. Those next few minutes seemed to last a thousand years. Every moment was potential disaster. We were both struggling. And then, a weird thing happened. I was holding the light on Winnie, when everything got very quiet. And I felt something. I don't know what it was. I felt like I was holding her up with that light. That we were connected by the light. And I wouldn't let her fall. No matter what - I wouldn't let her fall. That night I learned something. About courage… And maybe about love.
- Narrator: I couldn't exactly say we made theater history that autumn evening… maybe we weren't even very good. The thing is, it didn't matter. We made it though. And the critics were kind. And a week later… Mr. Cooper moved back in with his family.
Odd Man Out [3.6]Edit
- Narrator: The best part of having a best friend is knowing someone really understands you. Paul Pfeiffer and I shared more than just the laughs and the Oreos. We shared confidences. In a lot of ways, Paul knew me better than I knew myself. And he wouldn't hesitate to remind me if I ever forgot. It was a tried-and-true relationship. But like all relationships... sometimes it got a little... stale.
- Narrator: As I stood outside that window, I watched the easy give-and-take of two new friends. And I realized something. Doug Porter was no longer the odd man out. It was me. But I guess in a way we're all odd men out. Until we find a match that makes us even. Someone who challenges us to be our best. Someone who understands us. Even at our worst. I was beginning to appreciate how rare a thing that was. I wanted to tell him I was a better person for knowing him. That I hoped our friendship would endure the trials of a lifetime. But... I knew he understood.
The Family Car [3.7]Edit
- Narrator: Where I grew up, there was one time-honored event that united families. And brought neighbor together with neighbor. The arrival of a new car. There was something magical about it. Kinda like a one-float parade. For one shining moment, the proud owner became king... of the block. Yep, no doubt about it... in our neighborhood, ownership had its privileges. Except, of course... at the Arnold household. At the Arnold household, ownership meant... repairs.
- [Jack drives up to Arnold residence in a green sedan]
- Narrator: And so, we finally got our new car. It wasn't red, it wasn't a convertible... heck, it wasn't even a Mustang. But it was brand-new. And it was pretty cool.
- [Neighbors crowd around the Arnold's new car admiring its features. Kevin sees that Jack has hired a tow truck to transport the old white station wagon]
- Kevin: What will happen to the old car?
- Jack: Not sure. Too old for resale. I will probably have it disassembled and sell it for parts.
- Narrator: Of course... Dad got his shot at king-for-a-day... and we were happy for him. But that afternoon, I began to understand what Dad had being going through.
- [Flashbacks are shown of a younger Arnold family using the white station wagon for various activities]
- Narrator: There was more to that old car than fuel pumps and crankshafts. There was part of all of us in that car. The places we'd gone, the things we'd done... the family we had been. The family that was moving on. And for the first time... I understood the value of what my father had put into it. And why it was so hard to let it go.
The Pimple [3.8]Edit
- Narrator: Growing up in the suburbs, in the '60's, you were pretty much sheltered from the forces of change unleashed by the outside world. But what about the forces of change unleashed from within? Change. Not always a pretty sight. In fact, it could get pretty ugly. But that was the stuff that movies were made of. That wasn't the real world. Or was it?
- Narrator: I guess what I was finding out was that when things change it doesn't mean the end of the world. AS a matter of fact sometimes it can work for the best. The Pruit's left town a few days later and so did the pimple. And I began to come to grips with the fact the through the uncertain road through adolescence there were bound to be a bumps along the way.
Math Class Squared [3.9]Edit
- Narrator: Well, I'd learned one thing in advanced math class. I'd learned I was going to fail. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow - but soon, and for the rest of my life.
- Narrator: Every kid needs a hero - everybody knows that. They teach us about courage, about ideals… about life. Sometimes heroes are easy to spot. But sometimes… they turn up in unlikely places.
Rock 'n Roll [3.10]Edit
- Narrator: What we felt in those years, the hope, the joy, the possibilities, the sense that anything might happen no matter who we were, will always be a part of us. After all, people said the Beatles would never last, and they were right... except of course they did.
Don't You Know Anything About Women? [3.11]Edit
- Narrator: In the game of life, there are few certainties. In fact, most things are left to chance. There's someone for everyone, we're told. But the search for that one person to ride through life beside is serious business. Especially when you're thirteen. It's a matter of trial, error... and pure dumb luck.
- Narrator: All our young lives we search for someone to love. Someone who makes us complete. We choose partners and change partners. We dance to a song of heartbreak and hope. All the while wondering if somewhere, somehow, there's someone perfect, who might be searching for us.
The Powers That Be [3.12]Edit
- Narrator: I wanted them to tell me why they were fighting. Why they kept hurting each other like this. Why it was that the two men who meant the whole world to me...had to act like - children. But most of all, I just wanted them to stop.
- Narrator: And for some reason, maybe the way he said it, I began to understand. He wasn't giving me an order. My dad, was asking me for help. That morning, as I stood with the man who was my father... The son of my grandfather, the man who would one day be the grandfather of my sons...I realized something. That not all gifts are simple. That some battles are fought out of love.
She, My Friend and I [3.13]Edit
- Narrator: Around the end of 1969 a funny thing happened: 1970. Not that anyone was paying much attention. Still, with a new decade on the books, maybe it was time to heal old wounds, get over old hurts. It was possible. After all. I'd gotten over Winnie Cooper. Yep, Winnie and I were friends now. That incredible smile, the way she tossed her hair, the heart-stopping lilt of her perfume... I was over that.
- Narrator: I'd never felt so lost in my life. I tried to make sense of what had happened. I wanted to believe Paul had lied to me. Winnie, too. But somehow, I knew better. I'd been lying to myself. The funny thing is, now that I was sure about my feelings for Winnie... There they were: my best friend and my best girl. I'd brought them together. And now I had no right to interfere.
St. Valentine's Day Massacre [3.14]Edit
- Narrator: Oh, yeah...Love. Once upon a time, it was...simple. If you liked somebody, you let 'em know. And if you didn't, you let 'em know. One way or another, you knew where you stood. But as you get older, communication gets more...complicated.
- Narrator: There was only one thing more to say. The simple thing, the brave thing, the thing that was in both our hearts.
- Kevin: Wanna…study for our history test?
- Winnie: Sure.
- Narrator: Face it. We were a long way from kindergarten. And maybe we were learning that speaking from the heart isn't always easy. That afternoon, Winnie and I chose to leave those words hanging warm and unspoken in the winter air between us. But I think we both knew they were there… And we would get to them someday. The thing is, we just didn't have to hurry anymore.
The Tree House [3.15]Edit
- Doug: I actually had to hear my dad say genitals.
- Narrator: My father and I never had "the talk", and we never finished the tree house. I guess some things between fathers and sons are left unspoken, and unfinished.
Glee Club [3.16]Edit
- Narrator: The halls of RFK junior high often echoed with the sounds of music. The Kennedy Chorale. The Kennedy Madrigals. And of course, the Kennedy Now-Tones. They were all part of a long-standing family of song. But, as with every family, there was a skeleton in the closet. The boys' eigth-grade glee club. The singing group from hell. Twice a week, we transformed Mr. Frace's choir-room into kind of a chamber of musical horrors. Randy Mitchell - baritone. Doug Porter - monotone. Paul Pfeiffer - no tone at all. And of course... me. Not that we didn't have heart. It's just that the thirteen-year-old-male voice isn't exactly designed for... well... for singing. We weren't the stuff tabernacle choirs are made of.
- Narrator: It was... cruel. Before our very eyes, Warren had transformed from lyric tenor... to... Well... a bullfrog. So the rest of us did the only thing we could. We panicked. But the die was cast. Paul sneezed, which was too much for Doug. Somebody laughed. And I dropped my music. It was kind of a chain reaction. I'd like to say we rallied, but... we didn't. It was no one's fault, really. I guess we'd just been pushed beyond our limits. We we're a bunch of eighth-grade boys. Not an ensemble of stout-hearted men.
Night Out [3.17]Edit
- Narrator: Everyone knows what happens when you fall in love. You hold each other close, you kiss, and then... you live happily ever after. For Winnie Cooper and me, "happily ever after" had arrived. After years of waiting... we were ready to face the future, together. Passing notes in class... sharing Tater-tots at lunch... being a couple. It was all kinda... wonderful. Course, in eighth-grade, part of being a couple is doing what other couples do, even if it was, well, kinda stupid. And so long as we had each other, we were ready for anything. Well, almost anything.
- Winnie: I did want to kiss you. Just not then.
- Kevin: Well then when?!
- Narrator: I guess maybe that's when I first realized...that love was gonna be much more complicated. And much... more simple...[as they kiss] than I'd ever dreamed.
- Narrator: Once upon a time, our country was founded upon... faith. Faith in all its forms. But during the late nineteen-sixties, people began looking heavenward for new answers to old questions. The bravest among us journeyed into the unknown. While the rest of us stood by with our support. Our goodwill. And of course... Our taxes.
- Narrator: As I looked at that blank page, I knew that whatever I wrote would be a lie - or at best, a wild guess. It didn't matter. Whatever life lay ahead of me - a life of hope, of possibility, of uncertainty - I felt sure I knew what it would take to survive. I guess what I'm saying is... for the first time, I understood that some things are bigger than death and taxes. Like family. Like faith. I could only hope Miss Stebbins would understand, too.
The Unnatural [3.19]Edit
- Narrator: There's a dream that's as old as natural grass, and nickel hot dogs... and being young. It's a dream every kid shares. The one big moment. Hero time. Of course, when you're five... that dream doesn't seem out of reach. Everyone plays the game about the same. Bad. Still, for all your short-comings... you've got the one thing that matters most. Potential. Then... as springtime rolls into fall, and Little League gives way to summer jobs... somehow the dream gets left behind.
- Narrator: As I stepped back up to the plate... all the cares, all the worries, all the burdens I'd carried around for the past few days just disappeared. Suddenly, the outside world fell away. It was just me. And baseball. My moment had arrived. And I knew what I had to do. I'm not sure how I did it. My memory begins with the crack of the bat, and the sight of the ball rising. Maybe that's not exactly the way it happened. But that's the way it should have happened, and that's the way I like to remember it. And if dreams and memories sometimes get confused well... that's as it should be. Because every kid deserves to be a hero... every kid already is.
- Narrator: Teachers never die. They live in your memory forever. They were there when you arrived, they were there when you left. Like fixtures. Once in a while they taught you something. But not that often. And, you never really knew them, any more than they knew you. Still, for awhile, you believed in them. And, if you were lucky, maybe there was one who believed in you.
- Narrator: As I took that test, I thought about a lot of things: about how I knew him, and yet I didn’t. About how he treated me like a man, and how I’d acted like a child. About how I’d let him down, and now I wouldn’t. The thing is, even though I could almost feel him in the room, I knew I didn’t need him for the answers, or the praise. I was on my own now.
Cocoa and Sympathy [3.21]Edit
- Narrator: And I guess there was something in the way she said it that made me understand... Mom wasn't breaking my heart... she was breaking Paul's. Without breaking it. And in that moment, I began to realize a lot of things. Maybe my mother didn't go to the concert with Paul because she thought he was special... but because he thought she was special.
- Narrator: The night Paul Pfeiffer gave my mom a rose... he gave me something, too. He gave me a new way of seeing her. Paul made my mother feel good. Because he didn't look at her the way we always did. We saw "Mom". And he saw "Norma Arnold". And I think she liked that, for a change. That night I found out my mother once got sent to the principal's office for smoking in the bathroom. And that she almost married someone else, until she met my dad. I learned a lot about her - about who she was... about who she'd been... about who she wanted to be. And the next morning, she was "Mom" again. Our straight-man. Only, this time - I knew better.
Daddy's Little Girl [3.22]Edit
- Narrator: From the moment a father first lays eyes on his daughter... she's forever daddy's little girl. And he's forever her hero. A giver of gifts. A granter of wishes. A knight in shining armor. And in return... she gives to him that love and respect which is special between dads and their girls. Of course, for my sister and my father... that special love and respect took the form of... guerrilla warfare. But the week of my sister's birthday... they brought out the heavy artillery. During that week, Mom was sort of like the UN... trying to mediate the warring factions. And failing miserably. Me? I was kinda like... Switzerland.
- Narrator: That night of my sister's 18th birthday, a lot of things happened. Maybe more than she knew. Because that night, when my father let Karen go out, he let Karen go. Maybe that's how it had to be. Children leave. And parents stay behind. Still, some things are deeper than time and distance, and your father will always be your father. And he will always leave a light on for you.
- Narrator: Thirteen is a crazy age. You're too young to vote, and too old not to be in love. You live in a house someone else owns...But your dreams are already somewhere else. You face the future armed with nothing but the money you've earned from mowing lawns, and a nine-dollar ring with a purple stone. And you hope against hope...that'll be enough.
- Narrator: There was a time when the world was enormous...Spanning the vast, almost infinite boundaries of your neighborhood. The place where you grew up. Where you didn't think twice about playing on someone else's lawn. And the street was your territory .that occasionally got invaded by a passing car. It was where you didn't get called home until after it was dark. And all the people, and all the houses that surrounded you were as familiar as the things in your own room. And you knew they would never change.
- Narrator: As for me? Well, I had my own distances to cover: four miles - New York to Paris. The thing is, until Winnie left, everything in the world was outside my front door. But now, maybe the world would have to get a little bigger.
Growing Up [4.1]Edit
- Narrator: Things were confusing, alright. Sometimes even crazy. Still, I wasn't crazy. Just... in love. Winnie and I had survived the summer of long-distance romance. In fact, her move across town had brought a new depth to our relationship. We shared everything, now that she was wearing my ring. Hopes, dreams... big plans. Yep, these were golden moments - in a golden summer. When every day was perfect, and you knew it would go on forever.
- Jack: Don't ever get old, Kev.
- Narrator: I wasn't sure whether he meant me, or him. I guess we both knew it didn't really matter. We didn't have a choice. Growing up is never easy. You hold on to things that were. You wonder what's to come. But that night, I think we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what would be. Other days. New days. Days to come. The thing is, we didn't have to hate each other for getting older. We just had to forgive ourselves for growing up.
Ninth Grade Man [4.2]Edit
- Narrator: Once upon a time life was simple. Evolutionarily speaking. Then, things began to change. The competition got tougher. There were winners... and losers. The struggle continued. Then in the fall of nineteen-seventy, a new creature appeared... the likes of which had never been seen before. Noble, upright, virtuous. Ninth-grade man. Master of all he surveyed. Which in this case was Woody's Pizza Barn where the elite went to meet. Yep, by the last week of summer I was feeling pretty good about myself.
- Narrator: Ninth grade man. Noble, upright, virtuous. I went into my last year of Junior High thinking I knew all the answers. And suddenly all I had was questions. Plus a dislocated thumb. It's funny. I remembered the time when I knew who I was. But that was eight hours ago. Suddenly I felt on the outside, looking in. Looking for... Winnie. I wanted to tell her everything, every bit of it. All the setbacks, all the screw-ups. Heck. I knew she'd understand. After all when you're fourteen, you can't always put words to life. All I knew was... I felt home again.
The Journey [4.3]Edit
- Narrator: Adolescence is a battle. A life-or-death mission into hostile territory. You tiptoe through minefields. Dodge bullets. Try to do the right thing... in a crazy time. But war has another side. The noble side. Forging friendships between improbable comrades. Uniting men. Bringing together the good... the bad... the ugly. Along around ninth grade, one thing was clear. In the battle of growing up... junior high school was basic training. Not that any of us had actually enlisted in this army. Still, we'd learned one thing. We'd learned how to survive. It was all a matter of balance. Poise. Keeping your head down. Avoiding the war. Until, that is... the war came to you.
- Narrator: By the time we got back together our adventure had become an epic. We were entitled to a little exaggeration. Every soldier does. After all if growing up is war, then those friends who grew up with you deserve a special respect. The ones who stuck by you shoulder to shoulder in a time when nothing is certain when all life lay ahead and every road led home.
The Cost of Living [4.4]Edit
- Narrator: Uh-oh! I'd just broken the cardinal rule of child-parent negotiations. Never compare them to their peers.
- Narrator: That day... I realized something from this man that I was trying so hard not to be like. He understood the value of money. And the cost of it.
- Kevin: Hey - it's too bad about that putt.
- Jack: A putt's a putt.
- Kevin: Coulda made it, Dad!
- Jack: Maybe.
- Narrator: I guess Dad knew he could lose a game, and still not lose his manhood. His pride didn't hinge on a stupid shot. Or some shiny new clubs. And I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted to use my money for.
- Kevin: Dad! Can I buy you lunch?
- Jack: Whatever you say, Kev.
- Narrator: It was the first time I ever really said thank you to the man for all he'd given me.
It's a Mad, Mad, Madeline World [4.5]Edit
- Narrator: You start out life with a clean slate. Then you begin to make your mark. You face decisions, make choices. You keep moving forward. But sooner or later there comes a time where you look back over where you have been... and wonder who you really are.
- Narrator: Life is a series of twists and turns. Things don't always turn out the way you expected. Still, that night I knew I'd turned a corner. As for the future,well, I wasn't worried. I had my girl, had my good name back and would keep it locked on...forever.
Little Debbie [4.6]Edit
- Narrator: Every generation has its idols. Guys who were our heroes. Guys who defined "cool". Guys who drive chicks crazy. My generation produced a ton of these guys. The Beatles... Mick Jagger... and, of course... yours truly. OK, so I didn't have a Top 10 single. I did have the one thing every teen idol needs. A fan. Debbie Pfeiffer, Paul's little sister. Debbie was a seventh-grader now, and, to put it mildly, she thought I put the moon in the sky... and told the stars to shine. It was kinda flattering, I guess. It was also kinda... nauseating. And the worst thing was... no matter how hard I tried to ignore it... it... wouldn't ignore me. Not to seem insensitive, but a man of my years had more important things to think about, than moony little girls.
- Narrator: Heck - I was no Superman. Not really, anyway. But if Debbie Pfeiffer needed a hero... so be it. She had plenty of time to grow up, and figure it out on her own. After all, a little stardust in the eyes never hurt anybody. Least of all, me.
The Ties That Bind [4.7]Edit
- Narrator: Before my parents were Mom and Dad... they were Norma and Jack. Or, so the story goes. Back then, they didn't have much. So they got by on what they had - each other. Somewhere along the way, though... hearts and flowers gave way to other things. Guess it kinda took 'em by surprise. So, like any couple of their generation... they did what they had to do - they became... parents. Providers.
- Narrator: When you're fourteen, you know a lot of things. How to throw a spiral... how to fix a bike. But standing there... I knew I couldn't fix what was wrong.
The Sixth Man [4.8]Edit
- Narrator: There are a lot of great records in sports. Rocky Marciano fought to victory in forty-nine straight heavyweight prize-fights. The University of Oklahoma won forty-seven college football games in a row. But in the annals of sports... there was one record that surpassed them all. One destined to go unbroken for time immemorial. I had beaten Paul Pfeiffer at basketball - as near as I can remember - seven hundred eighty eight times in a row. Give or take a hundred. It was a streak that went all the way back to kindergarten - maybe even before. Not that I was some kind of all-American. It's just... I was me. Whereas Paul... Paul was - Paul.
- Narrator: That night, Paul Pfeiffer and I played the most important game of our lives. We both played hard. And we both played to win. And no game ever mattered more. To both of us. Maybe change is never easy. You fight to hold on. You fight to let go. But that night... after seven-hundred ninety consecutive loses... Paul finally beat me. Paul made the basketball team that year. And he had some loyal fans. But his biggest fan... was also his best friend. I guess sometimes you have to grow apart... to keep growing together.
A Very Cutlip Christmas [4.9]Edit
- Narrator: When you're a kid, it's simple. Christmas is magic. It's a time of miracles, when reindeer can fly, and Frosty never melts. Then you get older. Somehow, things change. The magic begins to fade. Until something happens that reminds you, at Christmas time... miracles still can be found. Sometimes in the most unexpected places.
- Narrator: I stood there, helpless, outnumbered. And that's when it happened. Doug Porter looked first, directly into the eyes of the man who had taught him gym for three long years. Then Tommy Kisling looked, too, and Randy Mitchell. Those three skeptics gazed straight at that white beard, dead into the eyes of Coach Cutlip not thirty feet away. But all that they saw... was Santa Claus. It was a miracle. He stood there like some patron saint of all the lonely people holidays sometimes forget. And for that brief moment of Christmas magic, Ed Cutlip got his chance to be what he always wanted. And I never gave him away.
The Candidate [4.10]Edit
- Narrator: Everybody know politics is a dirty business. Yet our greatest national heroes have always been politicians. Maybe there's a reason for that. Maybe it takes a certain kind of person to get down in the mud... and come out with the bricks of statecraft. After all, in America, they say any kid can grow up to be president. What they don't say... is how.
- Narrator: Which only proved what I'd known all along. Simply stated... politics stinks. I never regretted running for president of the student council... or the three weeks of detention that followed. In fact... in many ways, I was a better man for it. Even though I lost to a duck. In any event... it was time to leave politics to the politicians. Let the ship of state sail on. At least they wouldn't have Kevin Arnold to kick around anymore.
- Narrator: Young love is really pretty simple. It's about sharing little inside jokes when the teacher isn't looking. It's about passing notes in the hallway between classes. It's about all the really stupid things you share. It's about going through it, together. Winnie Cooper and I had been through it all. The good times, bad times, the ups and downs. And we were still together. We'd known each other since we were kids. And to me she was still the girl next door - even though she didn't live next door anymore.
- Narrator: Back there on our seat... the ride home in the dark seat... there it was- the ring I gave to Winnie; the one she was giving back to me. I looked for her on the other bus but I couldn't find her, she was already lost in the crowd. I knew then that the girl next door was gone. And my life would never be the same again.
- Narrator: Winnie Cooper was my first real love. She grew up in the house across the street. She was the first girl I had ever kissed. And now she had broken up with me. But it wasn't until the next day that I understood what it meant...
- Kevin: It's just a big misunderstanding right?
- Narrator: Love makes you do funny things. It makes you proud. It makes you sorry. That night we talked. About life. About our times together. Maybe we weren't the same two kids we had once been. But some things never change. Some things last. And even though I didn't know what was going to happen to us, or where we were going. I just knew I couldn't let her out of my life.
Who's Aunt Rose? [4.13]Edit
- Narrator: I grew up in a neighborhood that was a lot like other neighborhoods. Where the boxes we lived in were distinguished only by the names on the mailboxes, and the cars in the driveways. It was a place where hard-working Americans circled their wagons to protect themselves from the outside world. Our lives were made up of little moments, all delicately intertwined.
- Albert: I guess, uh... I guess my cousin, Rose, liked family gatherings more than anyone I've ever known. Even after she had trouble gettin' around, she always loved to have a chance to see the folks. As she liked to call us. Course, lately it seems like the only time we get together is, uh... when there's a wedding, or... or when somebody leaves us.
- Narrator: As I stood there, listening to Grandpa's words, a lot of things began to become real for me. Aunt Rose. The loss Gramps was feeling. And why coming here was so important, for all of us.
- Albert: But, I can tell you one thing, Rose is not gone from us. She never will be. She will always be a part of us, as long as we remain a family. Part of... the folks. Part of who we are. Even for those who really didn't know her very well.
- Narrator: I guess that's when I understood what my grandfather had been trying to explain to me. That my life was bigger than the little neighborhood I lived in. And that these strangers who surrounded me, weren't just relatives, they were my family. And the death of one affected each of us in some way.
- Narrator: Over the course of the average lifetime you meet a lot of people. Some of them stick with you through thick and thin. Some weave their way through your life and disappear forever. But once in a while someone comes along who earns a permanent place in your heart.
- Narrator: [At] fourteen true heroism has less to do with actual logic and more to do with pure stupidity.
- Narrator: Every American family has its own unique blend of personalities, my family was no exception. Within our four suburban walls we ranged the full spectrum of types. From the flamboyant, to the demure. From the repellant, to the ideal. Somehow, we managed to fit together in a kind of fragile alliance. One for all, and all for one. With one exception: Buster - the family dog.
- Narrator: And over the years, through good times and bad... through seasons of hope and change, he stood by us all. A silent partner. The first one to greet me at the door when I came home from my senior prom. The one who stared out our front window, on the day I left for college. And my mom said he stayed there for hours.
Road Trip [4.16]Edit
- Narrator: The biggest thing in a young boy's world is his dad. You do what he says. You do what he does. He's your guide through the mysteries of manhood - your confidant. Your pal. Until the day comes when, for some reason, things change. Your confidant becomes... that guy on the other end of the couch.
- Narrator: We didn't talk any more on the way home than we did on the way out. But, maybe we listened a little bit more... To what was being said inside us.
When Worlds Collide [4.17]Edit
- Narrator: There were no two ways about it. When I was fourteen… I was a pretty cool kid. Not in the ninety-ninth-percentile of coolness, maybe, but definitely top third of my class. I knew the walk. I knew the talk. I had my own kinda... style. But, like a lot of cool kids my age, I did have one tragic flaw. One terrible secret that threatened the very fabric of my fragile image. I, Kevin Arnold, had a mom.
- Narrator: She poured my milk, she sewed my buttons... Face it. The woman loved me. She knew me better than anyone in the world. Which, of course, was the problem. She knew...too much.
Separate Rooms [4.18]Edit
- Narrator: I guess you could say I had a pretty uncomplicated childhood - with one exception. My brother, Wayne. From the moment we first laid eyes on each other, we had an instinctive, natural, bond. It was kind of touching, really. So to insure that bond would flourish and grow, my parents provided us with something. Something to keep us together, through thick and thin. A room. Our room. The thing is, we actually had some pretty good times there. But looking back now, when I think of that room... what I remember is how big it seemed when we were little.
- Narrator: Childhood is a struggle. In struggling to separate ourselves from one another... Wayne and I had also struggled to stay together. In order to break apart, we had to hurt each other. And now... we'd done what we had to do. And the thing is, even today... on nights when I lie in bed, listening to my children in their rooms, breathing next to one another... I wish for them what my parents had wished for my brother and me. I wish for them... what we had.
The Yearbook [4.19]Edit
- Narrator: Any kid who's ever been to junior high school knows one great universal truth. Image is everything. Who you are is pretty much who you appear to be. And who you appear to be is pretty much a matter of hard work and careful planning. For most kids, anyway.
- Narrator: In junior high school image is everything. A dance with masks. A fight to fit in. Maybe it's a struggle that lasts a lifetime. For most of us, anyway.
The Accident [4.20]Edit
- Narrator: There are things about your childhood you hold onto... because they were so much a part of you. The places you went, the people you knew. Somewhere, in every memory I had, was Winnie Cooper. I knew everything about her. What I didn't know was that she was falling apart.
- Narrator: And I guess that's when I finally understood. I'd been part of Winnie's past, a past she wanted to forget. And now... there was nothing to do... but go. Only I didn't. I couldn't. There are things in a life that matter, things in a past which can't be denied. Winnie Cooper was part of me, and I was part of her. And no matter what, for as long as we lived, I knew I could never let her go.
The House That Jack Built [4.21]Edit
- Narrator: Men came home from a just, and noble war. It was a place where peace-of-mind came by the square foot. Where the space between every linoleum floor, and shingled roof... was to be filled with children. And dreams. And where, into every inch of concrete, hard working men poured their values. My father was one of those men. His values were simple. As solid as the walls of the house he took care of. And he trusted the preservation of those four walls to nothing less than his own two hands. With maybe a little help from my two hands.
- Narrator: Ninteen-seventy-one was a big year. Hot-pants were invented. Dennie McLaine lost twenty two games for the Washington Senators. And I graduated from junior high school. But... we'll get to that. In the three years since I'd entered seventh-grade... a lot of things had changed. Still, in the suburbs where I lived, the currency of life remained about the same. The whir of lawn-mowers. The cries of hide-and-seek. The dreams of parents. The struggles of children.
- Narrator: I couldn't really say what I did that summer. It passed in kind of a blur. What I remember... are green lawns and sprinklers... and the smell of backyard grills. And the nearness of friends.
The Wonder Years [4.23]Edit
- Narrator: The fact was... the teachers I had at RFK ranged from the ridiculous... to the sublime. From the exasperating... to the intimidating. From the ineffectual... to the indecipherable. It's just that, as with most adolescents... my real education began at home. From my family. My mother instilled in me a deep appreciation for the importance of family. And knowing your roots. Then, of course... there was my father. The man who'd taught me the intricacies of progressive parenting. My sister taught me the concept of independence. And, by accident of birth... ladies and gentlemen, my brother, Wayne. A pillar of support in times of crisis. All-in-all, I guess you could say my family was kind of a proving ground for the lessons of life.
- Narrator: Those years were like a long journey for me. Looking back, it was a time when we were still very small. And the world seemed very big. And I think about those days again and again... whenever some blowhard starts talking about the anonymity of the suburbs... or the mindlessness of the TV generation. Because I know I'll never forget those times... those years of wonder.
The Lake [5.1]Edit
- Narrator: Lake Wennahatchee... For one week that summer of nineteen-seventy-one, my family and Paul Pfeiffer's rented side-by-side cabins along its placid shores. It was a place to get away from the aggravations of modern suburban life... escape from the petty everyday competition. The kind of paradise that made you wish you could stay forever.
- Narrator: I wanted to stay there, in that night... more than anything I wanted before. But I knew I couldn't. I was fifteen. I slept under a roof my father owned, in a bed my father bought. Nothing was mine, except my heart, and my fears. And my growing knowledge that not every road was going to lead home anymore.
Day One [5.2]Edit
- Mr. Botner: Now, Botner's rules for study hall. Numero uno -
- Kevin: Ah man.
- Mr. Botner: Arnold! Do you have a problem?
- Kevin: No....I....ah
- Mr. Botner: Oh come on, Arnold. I'm sure whatever you have to say is very important. After all, we can wait here as long as it takes. Even if it's all evening.
- Narrator: That first week of high school, as I watched our class band together. I realized something about these strangers I'd just met. Strangers I hardly knew. Strangers who were just like me. We were all sharing the same feelings. The same fears, the same loneliness. We were just starting out, and there was only one direction to go. So we went - together.
The Hardware Store [5.3]Edit
- Narrator: They say you never forget your first job. I know I remember mine. Harris' hardware store. Down the hill from where I lived. The year I started tenth grade. It was the kind of place you don't see much of anymore. Filled to the rafters with brackets, and bolts, and old screens. Ya know, stuff on the cutting-edge of obsolescence. It started as a summer job... but once school began, Mr. Harris cut back my hours so I could keep working. With the allowance Dad was paying me, I had no choice.
- Narrator: I felt him watching me. And somehow, I knew what he was thinking. How much I'd learned, how much he taught me. But I was fifteen. I lived in a world that was new and alive, and exciting. And everything here was old. Maybe it was stupid. That's also part of being fifteen. I traded in my tie for a stupid hat and a plastic name tag at the mall. When I left a month later - no one cared. But every time I pick up a flat-head screw, I think of old man Harris, and how those cowbells clanged as I walked out that door. And even though I can't say exactly what I gained... I know I can't measure... what I lost.
Frank and Denise [5.4]Edit
- Narrator: Poets say love comes and goes in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, in high school, it goes more than it comes.....And then from somewhere, I don't know - it just came to me.
- Kevin: Love is a river, flowing where we know not. The wound is deep, yet the river is wide.
- Denise: That's beautiful.
- Narrator: Maybe it was a dream. Or maybe I was crazy. Maybe Denise "The Grease" only knew one way to kiss. Or maybe, the most voluptuous girl at McKinley high, had just fallen for Kevin Arnold.
Full Moon Rising [5.5]Edit
- Narrator: Adolescence is kind of a screwy time. A time of hope and confusion. It's a race to find out who you really are. But if there's one thing teenager knows, it's this. Stated simply... if you want to be a star... you gotta have a car. Cars - the ultimate dream of every red-blooded American kid. Cars meant freedom, status, maturity. If you were old enough to drive, the world was your oyster. But, if you weren't... your world was more of a sardine - to really stretch an analogy. Without wheels, life was one indignity after another. A series of humiliations. And faced with these constant embarrassments... you look for any small way to elevate your status. The trick was to keep your friends jealous. Fact was, we all knew the bottom-line. To be truly free and functioning high-school men, what we needed... was a car.
- Narrator: We didn't really accomplish anything that night. Nothing of any real importance, anyway. But through the high school years that lay ahead... there would be a thousand other nights, just like that one. Stupid, ridiculous... and glorious.
- Narrator: As I sat there, listening to my brother's pain... and the lies he told to cover it... I didn't know what to do. I knew I wanted to be with Sandy. Holding her in my arms - dancing with her. But in the end... I stayed with my brother... because, after all... he was... my brother.
- Narrator: The nineteen-seventies were filled with improbable events. Strange occurrences. Unexpected happenings. But nothing was quite as improbable... as my brother and his new girlfriend. It defied explanation. Sandy Tyler was a seemingly-intelligent eleventh-grader. She was smart. She was pretty. Seemed as good an explanation as any. It was amazing. By some fantastic stroke of cosmic luck, my brother had found paradise. A girl with charm. A girl with style. A girl... who used her silverware.
- Narrator: There's one in every high school in America - the trophy case. Filled with winged statues, and silver-plated victory cups... all monuments to the winning spirit. To team play. To greatness on the field. Not just anyone could get inside that case. You had to be a winner. You had to have determination. You had to have guts. And most importantly... You had to make the cut. That fall of my sophomore year, one thing was clear. No matter how hard I tried... the wide world of sports wasn't wide enough to include me. Face it. I was five-foot-four, and a hundred-and-ten pounds. What team could I play on?
- Narrator: That afternoon, we gave it all we had. We threw ourselves into it. We did our dead-level best. Our dead-level best... stunk. Pretty soon our problem was clear. It was our goalie's fault. But by halftime... we'd run out of scapegoats. When I got back on that field, I was mad. I'd take these guys on myself, if I had to. When that whistle blew... we actually got possession of the ball. And what's more amazing... we actually completed a pass. It was our finest hour. Unfortunately... we'd kicked the ball into the wrong net. We completely fell apart. It was like "Lord of the Flies". And that's when it happened. Pops was heading towards us to say it was over. That we had no hope of winning. That it was time to hang it up. I don't know what it was that touched him. Maybe it was the way we stuck together. Maybe it was the way we were tearing apart. But in that brief instant... Pops McIntyre became a coach again. And we were finally... a team. Sure, we lost that day. But it was a glorious defeat. After all, all over America, there were teams like ours. Teams that marched bravely into slaughter. Teams that went oh-and-fifteen, and kept on losing. And kept on trying. Not for the league titles... or the silver-plated victory cups. But just for the joy of playing. Together. The thing is... I'll never forget those guys. Even if they were dorks.
Dinner Out [5.8]Edit
- Narrator: My dad was always a sucker for birthdays. Every year, he loved the ritual. The attention. The cake. Heck, we all loved the cake. But most of all, Dad loved our gifts. No matter what we gave him... it was his moment of glory. His time in the sun. His chance... to be king for a day. Unfortunately by birthday-time, nineteen-seventy-one... the king wasn't looking so... kingly. Maybe it was because he was about to turn forty-three in a week. Maybe it was the day-to-day irritations. Maybe it was something else. Face it. For the past six months, ever since he'd found out my sister was co-habitating without benefit of clergy... Dad had become kinda... monosyllabic.
- Narrator: That night I sat and looked at old photos of my dad. The things he'd done. His life and times. Maybe I was searching for some way to make things better. It wasn't up to me to set this right. [Kevin's parents are talking in the background] I couldn't hear exactly what they said, but watching them I finally knew what my father needed for his birthday. Not a funny tie or a forty-seven dollar meal or even a ratchet set. What he needed was to know deep down that she remembered what he remembered; feel even for that briefest moment like king for a day.
Christmas Party [5.9]Edit
- Narrator: Every year when I was a kid, my parents threw a Christmas party. Everybody in the neighborhood came. Dad played the "big cheese"... Mom played "Donna Reed"... and a really stupid time was had by all. It was a time when hopes were high. When the neighborhood was young. It was fun, before fun got so... complicated. Before life got so... simple.
- Narrator: And I guess that's when I understood. For Mom and Dad, the party hadn't been a disaster. For as much as things were changing all around them... what Jack and Norma had - what drew people to their house every Christmas for sixteen years... was still the same. The thing they started out with. The one they'd never lose. My parents never did throw another Christmas bash. And that was OK - I guess. But I still think about those parties. What they stood for. A time before TV dinners and two-car families. And grass was green and we were young... and those nights when I'd lie awake in my bed... watching the light dance under my door. And listening... for my father's laugh.
Pfeiffer's Choice [5.10]Edit
- Narrator: Whenever I look back on growing up in the suburbs, there's one thing I remember most clearly. Our neighbors, the Pfeiffer's... were always there. But we were more than just neighbors. We were like one big happy family. And at the heart of it all... were our dads. The men who set the tone. My dad, the athlete... and Paul's dad, the optometrist. Under their watchful eyes... our families grew, and prospered. One for all, and all for one. Until, that is, things started to change.
- Narrator: The thing is, I'd been so busy tearing down my own dad... I guess I'd forgotten Paul had one to tear down, too. I wanted to tell 'em that he had nothing to fear. That any man who could produce a son like Paul... was a giant in my book. Even if his beach was under water. At the end of that semester, Paul left his prep school, and came to McKinley with me. In a way I think he was happy about it. I know I was. As for the Arnold's and Pfeiffer's... we patched things up. After all, some things are more lasting than real estate. And Mr. Pfeiffer? Think of it this way - nothing ventured, nothing gained. Besides, you never knew when the tide might go out.
Road Test [5.11]Edit
- Narrator: Every culture has its own rites of passage. Ways of marking that leap from childhood... to manhood. Complex rituals... weird dances... acts of courage and survival. It's a tradition as old as civilization. Or... as recent as crabgrass. Fact! In the suburbs... a boy's first steps towards manhood start behind a lawnmower. Still, for me, at sixteen, lawn care had given way to something much, much, more important. The driver's license. The thing that separates the boys... from the men. And so on and so forth. But the truth was, by the spring of tenth grade, it was time to put the mower in mothballs. Forget the crabgrass. Make the jump from two cylinders... to real horsepower.
- Narrator: The funny thing is, for a second I actually thought about running for my life. But somehow I guess I knew. I just couldn't run anymore. It was time to face the truth. And maybe in that moment... I learned something. About being a man. And I learned it... from the guy who wrote the book. That night my dad taught me a lot. How to parallel park. Why you put away the lawnmower. And, in some small way, what it takes to grow up. That Monday, he took the afternoon off, and we went and got my license. He was so proud. Then, he took it away...and grounded me for a month.
Grandpa's Car [5.12]Edit
- Narrator: When I was a kid, anytime I needed a lift... there was my grandfather. The guy was always good for a ride. Sure, he was as old as the hills... but to me... Gramps was Hercules in bi-focals. Superman in suspenders. He was ageless... timeless... one man in a million. You could always count on him. Not that everyone shared my view. It was kind of a ritual around our house. Gramps visited, Mom cooked, Dad groused... and I... I borrowed the keys to the car.
- Narrator: Some gifts are simple. Some come at a price. Some you buy for a buck. And last you a lifetime. I guess everybody remembers their first car. I know I remember mine. Not because it was my first car... but because it was my grandfather's last.
- Narrator: It seemed like my high school teachers came in every conceivable shape... size and style. There were the hopelessly confused... the terminally repetitious... the insufferably boring. But of all the teachers I ever had... I only ever had one...who was... a natural. Miss Shaw taught English 2-A. She was a year out of graduate school... and there was something about her that was... cool. She didn't take attendance - she didn't need to. She let us sit anywhere we wanted. And she never, ever, used the word "literature". But maybe the most remarkable thing about her was... she actually liked what she did.
- Narrator: That afternoon there was kind of a... celebration. They were celebrating youth. Enthusiasm. Idealism. They were cheering for the best, and the brightest. Only they didn't know what I knew then. But they found out. I guess in the end, Miss Shaw did what was best for her. After all, no compromises, no regrets. The only thing is - she didn't do what was best for us. Even today... I don't know who to be angry at. Her... or the system that drove her away.
Private Butthead [5.14]Edit
- Narrator: In nineteen-seventy-two, the war was still raging in Vietnam. Politicians kept talking. Soldiers kept dying. And no one seemed to know why. But, maybe because the war had gone on too long... or maybe, because it had caused too much pain... whatever the reason... most of us managed to keep it at a distance... and go on, with our everyday, normal lives.
- Narrator: Love is never simple. Not for fathers and sons. We spend our lives full of hope and expectations. And most of the time we are bound to fail. But that afternoon as I watched my father sheltering his son against a future that was so unsure, all I knew was they didn’t want to let each other down anymore.
Of Mastodons and Men [5.15]Edit
- Narrator: In a lot of ways, high school boys are a lot like primitive man. They forage for their food. They fashion crude tools. And of course... they hang out in groups. In fact, about the only difference between my friends... and Neanderthal man was... Neanderthals had bigger brains. The tribe. That year we were inseparable. We'd faced all the challenges. All but one, anyway. Women. Julie Aidem. We'd been goin' out for two weeks. And to put it mildly... she appreciated the little things about me. She liked my laugh. She thought about me - lots. That was Julie. She watched over me. Took care of me. Civilized me. Let's face it. She was good for me.
- Mr. Aidem: It's not that bad - having people who care for you, you know?
- Narrator: I guess Ben understood something. Something that I'd learn... in time. But me? I was just a sixteen-year-old guy. And the way I saw it... there were still a lot of mastodons yet to be slayed.
Double Double Date [5.16]Edit
- Narrator: And then I kissed her, on the eye, and then she kissed me, on the eye.
- Narrator: But the thing is, that was all we did. Maybe it was happening too fast. Maybe we wanted to hold on to what we had. Or maybe we both knew there were other things we had to find before we found each other. All we really knew for sure was, as we sat there, looking out over the lights of the town where we had grown up together, it all felt right. It all felt...perfect.
- Narrator: I guess magic doesn’t last forever no matter how much you wish it would. Destiny can turn on a dime and cut like a knife.
- Narrator: And then that man... "Mr. Pencil stubs and Alka-Seltzer"... "Mr. Pay the bills and go to work"... said something I'll never forget.
- Jack: Let me tell ya something, Kev... it's not easy being a hero.
- Narrator: And I knew he wasn't talking about Bobby Riddle. He was talking... about himself. Some heroes pass through your life and disappear in a flash. You get over it. But the good ones, the real ones, the ones who count - stay with you for the long haul. The thing is, after all these years, I couldn't tell you the score of that game. What I remember is... sitting in that diner, up late... being young... drinking coffee with the only real hero I ever knew. My Dad - Jack Arnold. Number one.
Lunch Stories [5.18]Edit
- Narrator: In March of nineteen-seventy-two, a lot of great things were happening. Events that would shape history, and alter the way we think. Still, among all that change, there was a common thread. One experience that united us all. Lunch. At twelve-oh-five PM every day... kids all over America piled in to high school cafeterias. Like lemmings to the meatloaf. You remember. The sights, the sounds... and that smell. That odd combination of wet trays, warm silverware, and pale green beans. But lunch at my school, like most others... was rarely about food. It was about drama... lust... power... intrigue. Not to mention... humiliation. In a way, it was kind of a stage. And we... its principle players. There were those who could never seem to find a place to sit... and those no one wanted to sit with. Those with natural charm... and those who had to work for it. Me... I was just an ordinary Joe... being served something unidentifiable by a guy in a hair-net. Stocking up on waxy milk... and congealed blue-plate special. Yeah. All in all... life was good.
- Narrator: And, there ya had it. Lunch. Where romances bloomed and died... and returned again. Like last weeks leftover tuna casserole. Where the fondest dreams and aspirations of young adults reached their zenith... and the quest for knowledge became its own reward. Sure... maybe all those dramas played out over lunch weren't really dramas after all. Still looking back... they sure seemed that way.
Carnal Knowledge [5.19]Edit
- Narrator: If there’s one thing every kid needs growing up, it’s a best friend. Someone you trust. Someone who trusts you. Someone you measure yourself against. You go through everything together. Important things. Stupid things. Things that matter. Things that don’t.
- Narrator: It was the first time I ever realized how truly perilous love could be. And I guess at that moment it was clear. Some things never change. After all, Paul was Paul. And no matter what, the guy... needed... me. Growing up is complicated. Kind of a race against time. A search for identity. For love. And the outcome's always in doubt. Things happen fast. Sometimes too fast. But that night, with Paul... I knew one thing. We'd been through everything together. And from here on out... no matter what... we were gonna need each other... more than ever.
The Lost Weekend [5.20]Edit
- Narrator: Genetics. The heartbeat of heredity... the lynch-pin of the family. Parents supply their children with the same basic building blocks. The same blood types. The same involuntary responses. The same essential gene-pool. Yet, despite all this potential for similarity... sometimes things get confused. Sometimes, Mother Nature, in all her wry sense of humor... goes off and creates... total and complete opposites. Like me and my brother, Wayne. It was hard to believe we ever occupied the same womb. The only thing we had in common... was our complete and utter contempt for one another. All in all... my brother and I were just two different branches on the family tree. Me, the good branch... Wayne... the dead-end.
- Narrator: The thing is... I was prepared for the yelling, screaming, the gnashing of teeth. But what I wasn't prepared for was... the complete and utter silence. Well, maybe this was justice. A pay-back for all the times I'd laughed at Wayne when he got in trouble. In any case... there was no way out. Course, he should have told. It was the moment he had been waiting for... his whole life. But he didn't. I'm not sure why he didn't. Maybe he saw it was futile to try to explain. Maybe he knew how much harder my parents would be on me... than on him. Or maybe he forgot, and though he really did it. Or just maybe... for that one afternoon... my brother saw in me, a little bit of himself. Growing up brothers is kind of a mixed bag. Strangers. Warriors. Enemies. Idiots. Friends. One day you fight to the death. The next... you'd lay down your lives for each other. I never did say "thanks" to Wayne for what he did. But I washed his Corvair. And waxed it, too. I figured, hey - any guy who did that... deserved a shiny car.
Stormy Weather [5.21]Edit
- Narrator: It always seemed that in my house, the most dramatic things happened in the middle of the night. Like the night of the big blizzard when Dad got stuck out on the highway... and we thought we'd never see him again. Or the night my brother swallowed a whole bag of marbles... and threw them up in the car, on the way to the hospital. Or the night my eight-legged science project escaped... and turned up in Mom's nightgown at three AM. But nothing ever created quite as much confusion around my house... as the night my sister came back home.
- Narrator: Like I said... anything really important that happened at my house... happened in the middle of the night. In a way, it was a relief to all of us. We weren't really good at things like... romance. We were better at marbles, and eight-legged science projects. Ten days later... Karen asked Michael to marry her. And he accepted.
The Wedding [5.22]Edit
- Narrator: In nineteen-seventy-two, the "me" decade was dawning. And people everywhere were doing their own thing. Letting it all hang out. And setting out to find themselves. The world was changing. And my family was right in the middle of it.
- Narrator: The next morning, I watched my sister get married... and welcomed a new brother into my family. I watched my mother send her firstborn child out into the world. And felt her sorrow. I watched my father give away his only girl... to a stranger he hardly knew. I said goodbye, myself. Looking back, maybe it all seems a little silly. But being there, in those passing moments, I saw that something real and important was happening. Not just for Michael and Karen, but for all of us... in our small and fragile, almost-insignificant suburban family. After all, those were passionate times, when children were pioneers... on the road to find out, wherever that road might take them. When brothers and sisters, looking back... wished they'd known each other better. And parents, filled with love and despair, held on to the past... and kept a quiet vigil, for the future.
Back to the Lake [5.23]Edit
- Narrator: When I was growing up, summer vacations meant one thing - fun. Two solid months of goofing off, hanging out, and sleeping late. June, July and August were a time when anything was possible, when the hardships of school were over, and the promise of great times lay ahead. As for me that summer of nineteen-seventy-two, I was sixteen. Still young enough to bask in the pleasures of summer. The real delights... the harbingers of doom. It was grim. Within hours of his graduation, my brother had been Shanghai'd by the American workforce. Not that I wasn't sympathetic. Still, it was about time the Wayner got a taste of the old Puritan work ethic. I mean after all, this was Wayne's problem, not mine. Until of course, it was. Oh, God. Here they came. Those two words which meant death to summer fun.
- Cara: Hey! Send me a Christmas card?
- Kevin: I will.
- Narrator: But, I didn't. After all, when you're sixteen, eight months is a lifetime. And time had moved on. For both of us.
Broken Hearts and Burgers [5.24]Edit
- Narrator: By the time you've made it to age sixteen, you pretty much know all there is to know. About history, philosophy - the world. About life. There was virtually no situation you can't handle. Yeah, you're on top of your game - the pinnacle of poise, the essence of cool. No doubt about it - from the right thing to wear, to the right place to sit, to the right person to sit with. At sixteen, you pretty much learned it all. Well, almost all. OK. So there's one subject you're just as dumb about as you ever were. Yeah - love. Like I said, at sixteen - you've learned nothing. Nothing at all.
- Narrator: And there you have it. The awful truth, the bottom line. When it comes to love... there's no simple fix. You're out there, on your own, and maybe all you can do is hang on...and hope for the best. And lead with your heart. When you're sixteen, passions run high. A simple misunderstanding becomes a matter of life or death. You live from moment to moment. And sometimes, when you're sixteen, the only way to get your love back... is to take it.
- Narrator: There was a road that ran near the edge of my town. Out where the suburbs were still farms. I used to go there nights, that autumn of nineteen-seventy-two. I was sixteen. I had a girl. I had a car. I had a job. I was full of night... and life. I just wasn't ready to go home. That year, I traveled streets I'd never known before. I pushed against the limits of my suburban life. I had no idea exactly what lay ahead. All I knew was... I was running out of time. And I was gonna bust if something didn't happen... soon. In nineteen-seventy-two, the country was at war. With its armies... with its ideals... with itself. The dreams of the '60's were battling a new decade. And things were happening everywhere. Well, almost everywhere.
- Mr. Deeks: Open your books to chapter six, section thirteen. The rise of post-agricultural Europe.
- Narrator: Eleventh-grade. The no-man's land of public education.
- Narrator: They say men are children, but sometimes children are men; maybe that's where the confusion lies... All I knew was that night the world suddenly seemed very big and I felt very small, so I did what I could...1972 was a crazy time. Kids played football, drove cars, went to school, celebrated life; while soldiers, heroes, their brothers struggled to find their way home from war; and young boys watched and grew wiser in their dreams.
- Narrator: The hardest part of growing up is having the ones you've always turned to, turn to you.
- Narrator: We'd come this far. No sense turning back, now. We fished the rest of that day. We didn't catch much. Dad said he'd like to move up here, and open a bait shop. I told him it was a great idea. I think he believed it. And in the end... I guess we finally figured out why we'd come here in the first place. We'd come... to say goodbye.
Scenes from a Wedding [6.3]Edit
- Narrator: It seems to me, a wedding means something different to everyone. To some, it's an occasion for simple pleasures. And for others, a wedding's implications are more profound. For some... it's a time for contemplation. For others, a time for regrets. A chance to measure just how far we've come in life... against the promise of those just starting out.
- Narrator: It was a testament to romance at its finest and most pure. It was a declaration of virtue. Simple, and gracious, and real. And after a day of infidelities... some proposed and planned, some more subtle... I felt for the first time... that someone believed in something a little different. In love. In commitment. In each other. It almost made me glad to be there. I guess you could say that weddings mean a lot of things to a lot of people. We might cry at the romance unfulfilled in our own lives. And shrink at the unseen compromises our lives have held for us. But weddings also bring out hope. And promise. And possibility. After all, as we choose our partners... some of us make our choices for life. And some of us dance with just one of many. And sometimes - for the lucky ones - we remember why we picked who we did. And after years of fighting over burnt toast...and bounced checks... we might, for a brief moment... look at each other as we once did - before kids, and mortgages and routine conspired against us. And others are content to postpone their choices... knowing somehow, that the future, like that Saturday afternoon, will tempt us with dances - both slow, and fast.
Sex and Economics [6.4]Edit
- Narrator: Junior year was a time of... exploration. A time for expanding horizons, broadening perspectives, seeking answers to little-known questions. It was an opportunity to grapple with the great issues of our day, which as it happened, boiled down to only two. One was sex. Miss Farmer. Our social studies teacher. In one of the great cosmic ironies of our time... the board of education had hired her to mold and develop our formative young minds.
- Narrator: In a world where everyone was taking advantage of everybody else... sex and economics were facts of life. For all of us. I continued to see Miss Farmer every day, but, somehow, it wasn't the same after that. After all, in a way, she had done me a favor - taught me a lesson in "life". To wit, when it came to beautiful women and money, it would always end like this - some guy would get stuck on a ladder in November... and some guy would end up alone. All I know for sure is, it took me six weeks to finish painting that house. It cost me two-hundred-and-fourteen dollars of my own hard-earned money. And the next spring, Mr. Kaplan put up aluminum siding.
Politics as Usual [6.5]Edit
- Narrator: Every four years, our country is gripped by a case of temporary insanity. We call it... the presidential election. It's democracy defined. A chance for politicians who know better... to make promises they can't keep. And come November... it's a chance for us to believe them.
- Radio Announcer: With the heavily Negro population of the District of Columbia and the rocksteady Democrat stronghold of Massachusetts, Senator McGovern has an early start by carrying those states.
- Narrator: Maybe I was jaded to think Winnie was idealistic. That newscast spurred me on to go to party headquarters where I could see the thrill of victory.
- [Kevin arrives at party headquarters to see a glum scene]
- Narrator: Or the agony of defeat.
- Scoreboard: McGov = 2 checks. Nixon = 49 checks.
- Winnie: How could this be? How could this have happened?
- Mike: Winnie, we have to face reality. McGovern never stood a chance. Now is the time to focus our efforts on the 1974 Congressional elections.
- Narrator: I guess many hearts were broken across America that night. But only one I really cared about. But somehow, it didn't seem important, anymore - who was right, who was wrong. All that really seemed to matter was... After all, maybe in his own way, Mike was right. In politics, you live to fight another day. Sure, the 'sixties were gone, but sooner or later...there'd be other battles to fight. The thing is, that election forever changed the way my generation looked at politics. We discovered, no matter how painfully, that we could be part of the process. That we could believe. And even now, twenty years later, despite all the evidence to the contrary... I can remember that night. And still believe.
White Lies [6.6]Edit
- Narrator: They say you can live a lifetime and never find love. So I guess I was lucky. Because true love crossed my path the first time I met the girl next door - Winnie Cooper. Winnie and I'd been together longer than any couple I knew. Still, history only goes so far. Kinda like Winnie. Unfortunately, the mathematics of the situation were open to interpretation. To me, they led forward, to that great unknown. But to Winnie, they led... back! See, the great thing about us was that we had this past together. The bad thing about us was that we had this past together. Not that I minded being part of Winnie's past. It's just, when it came to who I was... she seemed to regard me as a known quantity.
- Narrator: They say hindsight's twenty-twenty, and I guess it's true. Because as I stood outside Winnie's house that night, I suddenly saw it all so clearly. I'd sold both of us short, by taking something that most people never have and throwing it away for something less. I'd been in such a hurry to impress people that didn't matter, I'd torn apart the only ones who did...us.
Wayne and Bonnie [6.7]Edit
- Narrator: My father worked at NORCOM over half his life. And eventually... he rose to the ranks of middle management. Where every day, was filled with crisis... challenges... and Rol-Aids. Yep... through the years my father had given a lot to NORCOM. And now... he had given them... Wayne. My brother had been employed in the mail-room for about six months. Don't ask me how. And if his work-ethic didn't exactly match Dad's... at least he was trying to find a niche for himself. Make new acquaintances. Bonnie Douglas. She was twenty-three, funny, smart, and, oh yeah - divorced. It was no wonder Wayne felt the way he did. Whatever Dad felt about all of this... he was keeping it to himself. Like all the Arnold men... he had a lot of things on his mind.
- Narrator: It was that simple. And it was that complex. Love can kill you. It can tear you apart. But if you're very lucky... it can bring you back together. Sometimes love is unexpected... and unpredictable. And sometimes... you just have to go with your heart. And hope for the best.
Kevin Delivers [6.8]Edit
- Narrator: For most kids I went to high school with, Tuesday and Friday nights meant homework, hanging out, dating - the usual agonies and ecstasies of teenage life. For me, those nights meant something else. My high school job. I was "Kevin Arnold - Chinese food delivery boy". Where you found harried waiters, agile cooks, Peking ducks, and of course... Mr. Chong. After four months on the job, we'd finally learned how to communicate.
- Narrator: Working for Mr. Chong certainly wasn't the best job I ever had. The hours were long... the money was poor, and employee-management relations left a lot to be desired. But in its way, each night held a promise - of riches. And adventure.
The Test [6.9]Edit
- Narrator: One thing a kid learns growing up, is that life... is a series of risks. It's a cause-and-effect relationship. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Still, with the proper guidance, we learn to deal with the risks. And pretty soon, we set out into the world... sure in our options, confident of our choices. Until, that is... eleventh-grade. The year of decisions. Around the middle of junior year... the risks increase. Almost overnight, the choices get harder. One guess why. The scholastic aptitude test. The living nightmare of American adolescents. Like some kind of biblical curse... the SAT's had descended on our class... reducing even the most-intelligent among us to a state of... flop-sweats.
- Narrator: That afternoon, Dad and I took the tour. We talked furniture. We talked life. We made plans. And the next morning, at 8:00 AM, seventy-eight students gathered in the McKinley cafeteria to take what was supposed to be the most important test of their lives. Everyone had a different way of coping that day. Some were more effective than others. But for all the risks and choices, I was one step ahead of them. After all, I knew that this was just one test in thousands I'd be taking in my life. None of them final, none of them irrevocable. And the way I saw it, maybe life was a risk. But this time, I was ready.
Let Nothing You Dismay [6.10]Edit
- Narrator: December, nineteen-seventy-two, was a time of change for my family. A time of strange occurrences. Improbable events. And, a fews surprises. After a twenty-year sabbatical in the kitchen... my mother was graduating from State College. We were all pretty proud of her. As for my father... after a half a lifetime at NORCOM... he decided to invest in the future. Well, the future of furniture, anyway.
- Narrator: I guess some gifts are simple. They come from the heart... with a lifetime guarantee. And that afternoon... Christmas finally arrived. That Christmas Eve, I delivered egg rolls and pork lomein - for fifty cents more an hour. Then I turned right around and squandered the profits - on cashmere. Still, I think it was worth it. As for that big box, it turned out to be something much, much smaller. [Winnie gives Kevin a present] I hated it. I loathed it. I despised it. Then again, on the other hand... That night we skipped the customary dinner at home. Seemed there was a more fitting place to gather. We stayed up late. We talked about old times, new times. We ate turkey and dressing... and egg rolls. After all, the way I saw it, that year, we had a lot to celebrate.
New Years [6.11]Edit
- Narrator: Over the years, a family develops a kind of character. A sense of heritage. A feeling of roots. For my family, those roots extended all the way to the back of our garage. It was kind of our Plymouth Rock. The final week of nineteen-seventy-two. Where I lived, it was a time of change. Most particularly in the person of... my new brother. Sure - maybe this looked like the same doofus I'd shared a room with for fifteen years... but in one way, he was different. Wayne was in love. And somehow... our garage was never gonna be the same again. Not that I begrudged the guy his good fortune. After all, he'd found the girl of his dreams. Bonnie Douglas. Twenty-three, divorced, and mother of one. But it wasn't what he'd done that was so perplexing... it was how he was doing it.
- Narrator: So maybe that New Year's Eve 1972 didn't work out exactly like any of us planned. There was heartbreak we didn't anticipate, and events we couldn't have imagined. Still, it wasn't all bad; there was a magician. So, maybe there was a message in it all. The future was calling us. And no matter what, there was no turning back now.
Alice in Autoland [6.12]Edit
- Narrator: Throughout time... there have been some pretty obnoxious couples. Couples who constantly bickered. Couples who had trouble communicating. But never, in the history of men and women... had there been a couple more horrifying, more terrifying, than... Alice Pedermeir... and Chuck Coleman. In the three months they'd been dating... they'd broken up twenty-seven times. A class record. Make that twenty-eight times. And in situations like these, there was one cardinal rule. Never, never, get in the middle of someone else's relationship. It was a tried-and-true theory. Leave well enough alone, and things would work out.
- Narrator: I never did get that car. I got my old one back from "Pistol Pete". But I guess I did learn a few things from this mess. When it comes to couples, mind your own business. When it comes to women, you'll never understand them. And, when it comes to cars... always bring a wrench.
Ladies and Gentlemen... The Rolling Stones [6.13]Edit
- Narrator: Teen logic. At sixteen, it was a tool we used with abandon. And this logic came in all shapes and sizes. We used it to help us through life's tough moments. It helped explain our behavioral oddities. But never was out logic more useful, then when it lent credence to a really hot rumor. It was a dull week in the winter of 'seventy-three. So the rumor had spread like wildfire. By junior year, I'd been down the old rumor-trail... one too many times. Maybe I was a little tough on the guy... but it was so clear to anyone with even a semblance of intelligence. Unfortunately... a semblance of intelligence was in short supply.
- Narrator: And that's when I realized... there's all kinds of logic in this world. And a lot of it doesn't make any sense. That night, moved by the forces of teen logic, I'd stolen my dad's car... had a run-in with the police... a fight with my friends... and an accident. All in all... it was a great evening. Even if there were no Rolling Stones.
- Narrator: By the middle of junior year, life at my school was becoming... routine. The teachers, the kids, the classes... they were all pretty much predictable. Most of them, anyway. Jeff Billings, the new kid in school. When it came to unpredictable - this guy had the lock. In the short time I'd known the kid, I'd learned this about him - he had brains, a sense of humor... He had... attitude. Yep, in a way, the guy had it all. Including a girlfriend I'd never met. Julie McDermott, the legendary goddess from another town.
- Narrator: So... we went home. That day, I thought about a lot of things, like hometowns, like family - the shortcomings, the flaws, the arguments. Still, in the world of inconsistency and doubt... maybe home is what you make it. Like I said, most suburbs were about the same. Sure, some may have been a little bigger, and some may be have been a little greener... there was only one real difference. Only one of them... was yours.
Hulk Arnold [6.15]Edit
- Narrator: At some point in your teenage years, if you're lucky, you make a discovery. You find out you're actually good at something. It's that critical juncture, where talent becomes...expertise - kinda. It's your chance to start or, end up flat on your face.
- Coach: Why'd you let him pin you like that?
- Narrator: Course, looking back, I probably just should have promised to do better. But instead -
- Kevin: Yeah, well...you know, these shorts are really hard to wrestle in.
- Narrator: ...I made excuses.
- Narrator: In high school, appearances are everything. The way you look. The way you wish you didn't look. Nobody is satisfied. Which is maybe why...throughout the halls and classrooms... we hear the one universal cry.
- Ricky: What's wrong with me?
- Narrator: Ricky Holsenbach. When it came to inferiority complexes, he had them all.
- Narrator: And as Hayley set off hand-in-hand with her new beau... one question naturally came to mind.
- Ricky: What's he got that I don't?
- Narrator: And of course, there was only one answer. He had her. That night was almost like a fairy tale. A night filled with magic... and love... and princesses. And pumpkins. Maybe it was fitting. In a land of insecurity, where curly-haired kids wanted straight hair, and heavy kids wanted to lose weight... and skinny ones wanted to gain it, and everybody wanted to be somebody else... the one true beauty... was the girl who simply knew herself. And was happy... with what she knew.
- Narrator: On the afternoon of March 21, 1973, at exactly 2.15 PM, a rare astronomical event occurred - a total eclipse of the sun. As the sun, the moon and the earth began to move in line... so did we. A field trip. It was a chance to bring education to the unwashed masses of the junior class. Like Harlan Abramson, McKinley's living monument to polyunsaturated fats. Or Mary Jo Genaro. Senior year, she became the first girl at McKinley to take her parole officer to the prom. Louis Lanahan. When mankind discovered fire, they had not quite counted on Louis. And so, in a cloud of smoke and a mighty Hi-ho, Silver!... we were on the way to the Nierman planetarium. Thirty-four students and one teacher on the road to higher education - such as it was. All in all it was the lead opportunity to exchange ideals outside the confines of the classroom. To expand the boundaries of higher education. To go where no man had gone before.
- Narrator: I guess you can say that the laws of nature aren't always predictable. Still, when it came to matters of cause and effect... I think we managed to learn a thing or two. Perhaps that day, despite all the chaos, there really were cosmic forces at work. Forces so powerful, so profound, they defied all our attempts of rational explanation. I mean, hey, it had taken only five-thousand years to understand the moon... So, maybe, we were making progress. Then again, when it came down to it, may be, we learned enough for one day.
- Narrator: If there's one way to describe adolescence... It might be this... It's a gamble. An adventure into the unexpected. A step into the unknown. It's a time of life that pits hope against fear. And logic against prayer. A game of luck... and opportunity. Not unlike, say, for instance... Poker.
- Narrator: Those seventeen years... He knew what I meant. After all... Standing there on the edge of adulthood... we knew that the problems of men were not easily solved. That life was a risk. That growing up... was a gamble. That the time for bluffing, had passed. Still, ya never knew. With a little luck... Things just might turn out OK.
The Little Women [6.19]Edit
- Narrator: By the spring of nineteen-seventy-three the women's liberation movement was in full force. Across America, a revolution was in progress, shedding old stereotypes... building new roles. It was a time of raised-consciousnesses and high expectations... a fight for equality and freedom. Women everywhere were facing difficult and complex choices. Take my mother for example. She was a woman of her time. A woman of accomplishments. A woman who was appreciated. Yep, you might say in everything she did, Mom commanded our utmost respect. And whether it was pouring our coffee, buttering our toast, or simply washing our socks... we Arnold men supported her, encouraged her... right up until that day, when...
- Norma: I've decided to get a job.
- Kevin: By the way, congratulations on your SAT scores.
- Winnie: Thanks.
- Narrator: I mean, no sense being pigheaded. The way I saw it - the world was big enough for all of us. And besides, so what if women could influence government, take over big business, alter domestic policy, dominate education, make the world a better place. In one important respect, we had still a lot to teach them. Yep, when it came to being jerks, they still had a lot to learn.
- Narrator: I guess things never turn out exactly the way you planned. I know they didn't with me. Still, like my dad used to say, "Traffic's traffic; you go where life takes you." I remember a time, a place, a particular fourth of July; the things I saw in that decade of war and change. I remember how it was growing up among people and places I loved. Most of all, I remember how it was to leave.
Independence Day [6.22]Edit
- Narrator: Once upon a time, there was a girl I knew, who lived across the street. Brown hair, brown eyes. When she smiled, I smiled. When she cried, I cried. Every single thing that ever happened to me that mattered, in some way had to do with her. That day, Winnie and I promised each other that no matter what, that we'd always be together. It was a promise full of passion and truth and wisdom. It was the kind of promise that can only come from the hearts of the very young.
- Narrator: The next day, Winnie and I came home, back to where we'd started. It was the 4th of July in that little suburban town. Somehow though, things were different. Our past was here, but our future was somewhere else. And we both knew, sooner or later, we had to go. It was the last July I ever spent in that town. The next year, after graduation, I was on my way. So was Paul. He went to Harvard, of course. Studied law. He's still allergic to everything. As for my father...well. We patched things up. Hey, we were family. For better or worse. One for all and all for one. Karen's son was born in that September. I gotta say, I think he looks like me. Poor kid. Mom, she did well: Business woman, board chairman, grandmother...cooker of mashed potatoes. Wayne stayed on in furniture. Wood seemed to suit him. In fact, he took over the factory two years later, when Dad passed away. Winnie left the next summer to study art history in Paris. Still, we never forgot our promise. We wrote to each other once a week for the next eight years. I was there to meet her, when she came home, with my wife and my first son, eight months old. Like I said, things never turn out exactly the way you planned. Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day, you're in diapers; next day, you're gone. But the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a place...a town...a house...like a lot of other houses; a yard like a lot of other yards; on a street like a lot of other streets. And the thing is...after all these years, I still look back...with wonder.