Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Freebie List

Long before Friends, Monica, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Joey and Phoebe, had a celebrity "freebie list"my grandparents had one.   A freebie list is a set of people who you are allowed to cheat on your spouse with, should they come to the door of your house for you.  The other spouse would have to stay behind, knowing it was a "once in a lifetime opportunity" for the other.  Yes, my Methodist grandparents.  Both have been gone for a long while now, as well as the celebrities.  On the long running sitcom Friends, the list was 5 celebrities, but for my grandparents, they only got one:  Rita Hayworth for my grandpa and Gregory Peck for my grandma.

This is how I imagine the scenario playing out.  My grandparents would be sitting by a fan in the house, on a hot Central Californian day, playing bridge, or rather a 2 person card game, and drinking water, while my dad and uncle were out in the street riding bikes.  A black car would pull into the drive, and either Rita or Greg would ring the bell.  My grandma would make a cute surprise noise, and my grandpa would get the door.  Depending on the whoever it was, the grandparent in question would quietly go to the bedroom and fill a suitcase, and without a word, leave in the black car for Hollywood.  As if a switch had gone off in his or her head, like in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (it is the 50's in my imagination, so I'm sticking to the theme).

There are a lot of holes in this plan beyond the morality of it.  I'm positive my grandparents told their children this quirky plan, to reassure them that they never would leave one another (as well as just kidding around, they were funny folks). They said it to confirm their love for one another until death parted them.  What are the chances of the most famous movie actors of the day coming to the front door?  Imagine George Clooney coming to your house, right?  What are the chances?

Inadvertently, the legacy that my grandparents left us was probably different than their intention.  For my father, it left him with worry as a child:  what if those famous people just do happen by our house in Merced California?  It is something a kid could worry about.  For me it left me with a huge crush on Gregory Peck!

1 comment:

  1. Your blog is bringing back all kinds of fun memories for me. (It’s also making me cry. My parents were fun to be around. After all these years, I still miss them.) For a kid of 4 or 5 years old, the discussion my parents had had nothing to do with S-E-X. In fact, it didn’t even have anything to do with sleeping together. I mean really just sleeping.
    It was simply that Rita or Gregory might show up someday, and the appropriate parent would leave quietly. I still can remember the feeling: is this the way the “real” world operates? Is there any potential for this to happen? After all, Rita Hayworth was the “It” girl, the No. 1 pinup girl of World War II. And Gregory Peck was Atticus Finch. Enough said.
    Without really knowing for sure, I think I concluded that it was mostly just my parents being goofy – which they did a lot. Still, I was never 100% sure. Gregory Peck actually driving all the way up from Hollywood to little old cowtown Merced? Hmmm … probably not.
    It has been almost 6 decades since they told that story. Now when I read Google news and all of the strange things that happen on our planet, I find myself still asking that same question: Is this the way the “real” world operates?