Small Screen Shades and Dreams
”What fictional character on television, past or present, do you (or did you) most relate to and why?”
She goes on to say we can choose more than one, and I'm going to abuse that by listing TEN characters I've felt like and/or aspired to be over the years.
1) I am Cliff Clavin. Mind you, I don't work for the post office, I'm not currently sporting a mustache, and my second home isn't a bar, but I can ramble on and on about the most menial topics. Over the years, I've evolved into a person who speaks only when I absolutely need to, or when I feel comfortable enough around people. But when I do let go, I unleash a torrent of useless information about television shows, movies, comic books, and more. I don't make up things the way he did, but often to avoid looking stupid I may make educated guesses and figure out the answers to questions in mid-sentence rather than simply say, “I don't know.”
2) I am Ralph Wiggum. I was the rotund, clueless kid with a high pitched voice, sometimes doing disgusting things to get attention and futilely giving out cards to all the girls in my elementary school on February 14th. I'm grown up now, but in some ways I can still retreat into blissful ignorance and innocence.
3) I am also Martin Prince. While I was clueless socially like Ralph Wiggum, I was an academic know-it-all. I raised my hand. I asked questions beyond what was in the teacher's lesson plan. Once when a teacher told me “don't worry about it” I responded that I wanted to know “for future reference”. All the kids laughed. When I watch Martin and Ralph, I wonder if any of the writers went to my elementary school. While I could probably find some common ground with Bart and Lisa, I don't want to make this entire post about The Simpsons.
4) I once dreamed I was Bobby Drake, specifically the Spider-man and his Amazing Friends incarnation of the character. I was 10 or 11, but I remember it vividly. It was a hot Summer day, and I was sitting on the hard wood floors of our dining room as sunlight streamed in the windows. I had a glass of tea, but it was warm, so I pointed to it and an ice cube formed at the tip of my finger as I froze the moisture in the air. Naturally, after I woke up I spent the better part of that day pointing at things and trying to make them freeze. To this day, I don't know why I focused on such a mundane use of the power and didn't ride ice slides through my subconscious wanderings.
5) I am Skippy from Family Ties. I look nothing like him, and there was actually a guy from my high school and briefly my college who bore a better resemblance both physical and behavioral, earning him the nickname. But when I watched the show and saw this shy, geeky loser pining for a girl going out with a much cooler guy, I felt like I was watching myself. He was smart, nice, and selfless, but would never defeat the dimwitted but better-looking and artistic Nick and win Mallory's affection. In hindsight, he was probably better off.
6) I am Marshall Flinkman. I'm not a technological genius like television's answer to Q, but I do spend a fair amount of time in front of a computer and possess a wealth of geek knowledge ranging from comic books to Star Wars® to The Lord of the Rings to any number of pop culture references made by his character. I also get nervous around pretty girls.
7) I am Bobby Hill. I marched to the beat of my own drum as a kid, not literally of course since I also played in a marching band and had to march to the beat of actual drummers. But I definitely had a unique logic and perspective on the world, matching Bobby's father's frequent assessment of, “that boy ain't right”. Though a functioning member of society able to drive a car, maintain a job, and string words into coherent sentences, I think I still make decisions based on personal logic which defies logic.
8) I am, of course, George Costanza. Short and stocky, though not quite balding(yet) and not needing glasses(yet), my every instinct is usually wrong. In college, my friends made the comparison and urged me to try to do the opposite of what I would normally do. Writing this is proof that it didn't stick.
9) I am Drew Carey, the office working sitcom version with bad luck who can never catch a break and always has a sarcastic quip about his misfortunes. I relate to him; I've heard the real Carey is rich and dates strippers.
10) I wanted to be Michael Knight. Say what you will about Hasselhoff, but even though the Knight character is cheesy by today's standards, in my formative years he embodied what it meant to be cool. He had a fast car, which doubled as his best friend, and after flashing his smile and delivering a cool line to the damsel of the week, you knew he'd be kissing her before the hour was up. Like Bobby Drake, I suppose this is cheating since I didn't relate to the character as much as I wanted to be the character, but there were enough instances on the playground when I'd shout “I need help, buddy!” into my wristwatch the way he did that I've earned the right to include him here. Yes, his watch doubled as a communicator with his car, and no, I still got beat up because mine didn't summon a super car, but it's the thought that counts.
I'll stop at ten, though my brain is still bursting with more characters, ranging from the Jonathan Levinson to Webster to Spike Witwicky. Perhaps I'll revisit this topic another day, but it won't be a rerun since there will be new material, so it will more closely resemble a clip show.