In a random moment of erratic thinking, I thought it might be fun to compare my own psychological development with a fictional TV family. Here we go…
At first, this little urchin seems to be a non-starter, as we have little in common on the surface. But as I pondered more (there’s always a lot of pondering here at Bonnywood, have you noticed?), a few shared attributes began to bubble up and break the perky surface of this Golden Curl.
First, there’s the lisp. And yes, I know it’s not polite to point out vocal challenges, but let’s face it: That lisp was a big hit at the time, with everyone thinking she was so darn cute. Now, I didn’t have a lisp, but I did have trouble speaking at times, especially if I was nervous (translation: most of the time), with the words coming out of my mouth a jumbled mess compared to their planned eloquence in my mind. This is probably another reason why I became a writer at such a young age, because I could control those words.
Second, the younger Cindy was often trussed up in odd little dresses that didn’t seem the right size, usually in the direction of “too short”. I also often had clothes that didn’t fit, partly because I was rather chunky, partly because we didn’t have much money so we wore clothes until they fell apart, and partly because we would occasionally get “gently used” donations from some wealthy friends of my Granny. (Try going through childhood wearing someone else’s anonymous underwear. That’ll do a number on your self-perception.)
Third, Cindy had her Kitty Karry-All doll. I had my G.I. Joe doll. I’m sure we were both devastated to learn that they were not anatomically correct in critical areas, although for slightly different reasons. (I already had an inkling that I was headed down the rainbow-brick road, so I was not impressed when my field research was stymied by disappointing toys.)
We both had freckles and… yeah, that was about it. Oh, and the hair. I also didn’t understand the true purpose of a hairbrush until I was in junior high. I perfected the “bed-head” look long before trendy people started paying stylists big money to achieve the same coiffure. My stylist didn’t charge anything, because he was a pillow.
Interestingly enough, when the inevitable “which Brady are you” conversation would come up at cocktail parties, most folks would say that I was Jan. (This was years later, of course. It’s not like we sat around as 7-year-olds, swilling vodka and watching “Captain Kangaroo”.) I don’t really consider myself a Jan, but I can see the similarities. She just wanted everybody to do the right thing, and she would get a bit whiny about it when they didn’t. (Hmm. I guess that does smell a bit like the writing-incense that I burn here at Bonnywood. Perhaps I need to do another case study.)
One thing we did not have in common was the arm-flapping. Go back and watch a few episodes. Any time that Jan was really invested in a particular line of dialogue, she would start flapping her arms like she’d just been cleared for take-off. I don’t know if some drama teacher said something that stuck with her forever or it was an inherent part of her communication skills, but it’s obvious that Peter couldn’t have been the only one who broke important pieces of pottery in the house.
I’m not a flapper. Despite my Italian heritage, I don’t use any body parts when I’m speaking except my mouth. (This is yet another reason why my presence barely registered at Lageose family reunions in my youth. How can you expect your thoughts on any matter to be noticed whilst everyone around you is gesticulating like the Titanic is going down and we’d best find a lifeboat, pronto?)
But I did try the lemon juice angle with my freckles. Sure did.
There was just something a little off with Peter, at least in my own playbook. He gave the appearance of a nice guy, but he had that borderline-manic way of emoting. (He apparently came from the acting school of “don’t just deliver your lines, give birth to them”.) To my interpretive little mind, he had some darker issues, possibly along the middle-sibling line that plagued pinwheeling Jan. In summation: If we’re in one of those classic situations at a remote British manor house, wherein someone is mysteriously murdered in the midst of the night and we have to figure out whodunit, and Peter is on the guest list and still alive, I’d finger Peter.
Yes, I know how that sounds. Carry on.
Remember those lonely times in high school, when you didn’t fit in, at all, and you would get frustrated about all those popular guys and gals who seemed to be popular for no other reason than they were pretty and had glowing hair? And those popular folks had no time in the day to acknowledge your existence? Marcia would be the head cheerleader of that group, a position she held onto with a fierce grip, despite the infamous incident wherein an errant football made her be slightly-less pretty for an entire episode, poor thing.
See the preceding entry, change the perceived gender, change the occupation to football jock, done. But I did identify with Greg when he got to move his bedroom to the attic, because there were times when I certainly wanted to get as far away from the rest of my family as I could.
This one is a little hard to flesh out with any degree of professional analysis, mainly because Carol never really did anything of importance on this show. Sure, she was a spokesmodel for that “Carol Flip” hairdo that was all the rage for roughly 12 seconds. She somehow amassed an astounding number of pretty nightgowns so that we never saw her in the same outfit more than once, long before the Kardashians tried to trend that angle on Twitter. And she was allowed to occasionally throw in a mildly-naughty zinger directed at her husband.
But really, what did she do? I don’t remember her having a job. (Did I miss this?) I don’t remember her being involved in any charitable organizations that lasted longer than an episode. She usually did not discipline the kids, instead leaving that up to husband Mike, penciling the urchins in his appointment book so they could have a “serious talk” in his “drafting room” slash “office”.
(Typical counseling scene in said drafting room. Mike: “Peter, I understand you’ve been fingered for the murder of Countess Zoloft at Upton Abbey. What do you have to say for yourself?” Peter: “But dad, I was only acting out because I can never compete with Marcia or Greg and I just want to be loved.” Mike: “Murder is not something we should take lightly. Do you promise to make better choices in the future?” Peter: “Of course I do, now that I’ve been caught.” Mike: “Good. Now, even though it pains me, I have to punish you. Go clean your room and then apologize to the survivors at Upton Abbey.”)
Mike seemed to be the most laid-back dad on the planet, even when dealing with 600 unfocused children, a house that didn’t make architectural sense even though he was an architect, and a wife who apparently did nothing of significance other than shilling Wesson Oil on the side. He was clearly choking down anxiety medication with the rapidity of a beaver trying to build a damn. And in that respect, I do identify with him, as I’ve also been choking down the happy pills since roughly two seconds after this series ended.
But I mostly identify with Alice. (Surprised? You shouldn’t be.) She’s the one who was really running the Brady house. Dad was on medication, Mom was busy not doing anything and spending large amounts of time nowhere to be found. Alice kept the whole family fed with her concoctions created in the avocado-and-orange kitchen, and she knew just when to bake the right batch of cookies when one of the hormonal children was a bit blue and needed a pick-me-up until they learned how to drink alcohol to soften the pain.
And Alice dated a man named Sam the Butcher. That sounds completely enticing and erotic to me, in a naughty but thrilling way. But I might be a bit warped. After all, I didn’t grow up in a house with a fabulous staircase that made simply going down to breakfast a glamorous and decadent thing. Even if I had freckles.