Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Yesterday’s passing of Tom Bosley, coupled with Saturday’s death of Barbara Billingsley, got me thinking about old TV show and in particular how the two of them were probably the best TV mom and dads ever. Although, I think that Billingsley’s June Cleaver (from “Leave it to Beaver”) turned into a hysterical old shrew by the end of the series’ run*, for the first few seasons she was pretty awesome. She always kept a tidy house, baked an endless supply of cookies and listened to her kids, often running interference for them so Ward wouldn’t freak out when he got home.
* Two things: one by the last two seasons, any time the boys did something wrong, June would fall completely to pieces. And it’s not as if Wally and Beaver were doing anything really bad (for that matter, Eddie Haskell wasn’t either) but she’d just completely lose her shit over the smallest things. I actually felt bad for Wally and the Beave when this would happen because they were tight asses already, not wanting to disappoint their mom (or listen to her prattle on) probably made them more repressed.
The other thing is, I wonder how Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers feel about Billingsley’s death. I’m sure that they’re broken up, but it must be weird that the whole world thinks that their mom just died, when in reality, it was a lady playing their mom. From what I read, both Mathers and Dow were quite close to Billingsley, but she wasn’t their real mom. For some reason, if I were either of them and a reporter asked me about the death of my “mother”, I’d probably snap at them.
Bosley was a really awesome dad in his own right. As Howard Cunningham on “Happy Days” you can make the argument that he was the coolest guy on the show. When high schoolers Richie and Potsie got all of their money taken by a bunch of frat guys at the University of Wisconson, it wasn’t Fonzie that got their cash back. It was Mr. C. When local no-goodnik Arthur Fonzerelli needed a place to live, Mr. C stepped up and allowed him to live over his garage and eat dinner with his family every, single night. He even had a damn good looking wife (Marion Ross) that he often nailed—get it? Mr. C owned a hardware store. “Nailing” is a euphemism for the sex. That’s comedy!
The point of this entry isn’t to eulogize two great TV parents, the point is to determine whether the breakout star of “Happy Days”, the aforementioned Arthur “Fonzi” Fonzerelli, would be a good father.
Let’s set up the premise: assuming that once the show ended, Fonzi found a woman that he could eventually settle down with and they had a couple of kids. He still owns the garage that he worked at it through the show’s run and he’s settled in a house down the street from the Cunninghams. Let’s put together a Pro and Con list to determine whether Fonzi would be an “Ayyyyyyyyy!” or a “Sit on It*” dad.
* Why hasn’t “Sit on It” stayed in our pop cultural lexicon? It’s quaint, it’s exclusionary (how many kids from this or the last generation watched “Happy Days”?) and it sounds vaguely dirty. “Sit on it? Sit on what? Oh, that. No way, I’m not sitting on that pile of crap.” Also if you say it fast enough, it almost sounds like you’re saying shit. That’s an underratedly fun word to say.
- He’s the Fonz.
- He could probably fix your car if you got into an accident and wouldn’t get all bent out of shape (more comedy) if you came home with a motorcycle.
- Has a nice head of hair. You’d probably have a nice head of hair too.
- Already acted as a mentor to his nephews Spike and Chachi. Chachi turned out alright, though we never saw Spike again—perhaps he joined Richie’s older brother Chuck somewhere in Happy Days limbo. Anyway, one for two isn’t bad. And plus, Fonzi seems to learn from mistakes.
- Could probably give you good advice at scamming chicks and scamming free meals from nice, midwesterners.
- Could give you pointers on water skiing and all-night danceathons.
- Would definitely take your side if some asshole cop was trying to run you out of town.
- He showed patience and restraint despite years of hanging around annoyances like Potsie and Ralph Malph. I would guess the actions of little children would be a picnic compared to those two.
- Knew the prime spots at Inspiration Point.
- Would be able to fix a jukebox with a swift punch.
- Learned at the feet of the Mr. Miagi of Dads, Mr. Howard Cunningham.
- Would be in constant fear that he would leave your mom for an Aloha Pussycat.
- Would be in constant fear that he’d have sex with any and all of your girlfriends.
- How could you live up to your father, the Fonz? I bet every day Dale Berra heard people tell him that he wasn’t Yogi Berra. Dale Berra turned to cocaine and sucked at baseball. Though the two things weren’t related.
- For all of his bravado of being “cool”, often he freaked out pretty easily.
- You’d have Uncle Potsie over your house every Sunday. Worse yet, he’d probably break into song at any possible moment.
- He punches jukeboxes to fix them. Maybe he thinks kids work the same way?
- He has no family, the dude cuts ties easier than Don Draper. What makes you think that you’d last?
- He’s an expert at everything, your self-esteem would be destroyed.
- Would hang around your hang out.
- Could never say that he was “wrong” or “sorry”. WTF, Fonz?
- Would probably call you “Shortcake”--which would doubly suck if you were his son.
Even though this Pro/Con list is knotted at 11, I have to say that the gravity of the Cons outweighs the Pros. It’s best that Fonzi keep his status as a 30-something bachelor only interested in high school girls.