I don’t know how it happened.
I was enjoying my retirement, writing for The Trib, serving as a TIRZ trustee, on a few select boards, and doing lots of honey-do’s.
You know the really old joke, “I am so busy. When did I have time for a job?”
I may be busy but, somehow, I have found time to start watching “General Hospital” — GH for those true aficionados. It happened in the two years we all spent online instead of in person.
Somehow during the pandemic, the big screen television in my office landed on ABC and there it was. “General Hospital.” I recognized at least half the actors — Sonny, Laura, Carly, Sam, Maxie, Jason, Bobbie, Scotty. And there was Monica briefly. She’s been on GH longer than any other living actor.
I know these things because I started watching GH when I was running the University of Nebraska’s campus radio station. Most afternoons, I would write the public service announcements that the student announcers would read during their air shifts and being a broadcast major, I had the television on, to GH of course.
That adds up to 55 years of GH watching. Hard to believe, especially since GH hit the airwaves five years before I started watching.
Eventually, every college student must grow up — and get a job. I was a newspaper editor and the publisher frowned on me hunting out a television at 2 p.m. every weekday.
How could I get my GH fix?
Miracle of miracles. I had seen a news story about this newfangled electronic contraption called a VCR, a videocassette recorder. You could “program” it at night and it would record your favorite show – an hour’s worth – the next day. Rewind the bulky thing when you get home and, just like magic, you could watch that show you missed because you had to make a living.
I remember vividly in 1975 or so how much I spent on it, $750. Do you have any idea how much that would be in today’s money? And, believe me, I didn’t have $750, but college kids do weird things when they graduate and get a real job. They buy things.
My classmates were buying cars, paying off student loans, saving for a down payment for a home, maybe even buying food and paying bills.
I bought a VCR and watched GH every night after work.
I think I got the soap opera bug because, as a little kid, I remember Mom watching “Secret Storm,” “Edge of Night” and “Dark Shadows.” I know. Blame your failings on your parents.
Soaps suck you in because, like a good mystery, the acting is so good, the stories are interesting, the actors are relatable, and, on Friday, everything falls apart, forcing you to tune in on Monday for The Big Reveal.
Here is an example. Maxie told everyone her baby, Louise, was kidnapped. That’s not true. This is a soap opera after all. Maxie secretly gave her baby to Brook Lynn because Maxie is frightened that her baby daddy, Peter August, a nasty gangster (and the son of all-time horrible GH villain Cesar Faison) would steal Louise.
Maxie thought everything was going to be OK when Peter was sent to prison but, as I write this Tall Tale, Peter escaped the van taking him to prison and the last two scenes on Friday showed Brook Lynn screaming because the baby was gone. Scene cuts dramatically to Peter. Remember, he is the baby daddy. Peter is holding Louise as he escapes from Mac and Dante.
Are you following this? Do you even care?
I know what you are thinking — but I don’t care. It is a great 40-minute diversion (minus commercials) and I only watch a couple of days a week to keep in the loop.
To solidify my GH obsession, I joined the Facebook group, We Love General Hospital, and check in a couple times a week to see what all 19,139 members are posting.
You ask, “Why in the world would anyone join a GH Facebook group?”
I ask, “How did Facebook know to invite me to join the group?”
Now you know my secret. My right eye is on my notes as I type up another brilliant story for The Trib and you. My left eye is on that ubiquitous huge screen TV above my desk as I learn if Mac survived his gun shot and Peter absconds with Louise.
I know. Pathetic.