Erica Kane: Oh, this isn’t my friend; this is my ex-husband.
Adam Chandler: One of many. I’m third from the end – at least, I think so; I haven’t seen Erica for a couple of days. – from All My Children
Jen called me a while back and told me this story: She had just gotten home from a trip and had unpacked all of her things. She set her prescription medications on her dresser and left the room. When she returned she noticed all of the pill bottles and said out loud, “My heavens, it looks like Valley of the Dolls.”
And the reason she called to tell me this story? Because she had no idea what Valley of the Dolls meant. She just knew our mom said it whenever talking about prescription meds. I explained Valley of the Dolls to her and we had a good laugh.
She went on to tell me that whenever there was drama going on in her or someone else’s life, Mom would say, “It’s like Peyton Place around here.” I also had to explain Peyton Place to Jen, being on the younger side of Baby Boomerism.
But the conversation got me to thinking about soap operas, something I haven’t watched in probably 35 or 40 years. But I assure you I didn’t stop watching them because I’m an intelligent snob. Nope, far from it. I loved soap operas. I just got busy with my own life (which eventually became a soap opera of sorts in and of itself).
Come on, Baby Boomers. You remember them. You watched them. I know you did.
I have vivid memories of my mother watching her “soaps.” She was loyal to the CBS soap operas – Love of Life, Search for Tomorrow, The Secret Storm, As the World Turns, The Edge of Night, and The Guiding Light. Wow. I can still picture some of the people on those programs. Nancy and Bob Hughes. Vanessa Dale (called Van). Bruce Sterling. Betsy Clark. Steve Andropaulos. And do you remember who played the adorable Betsy Clark? None other than Meg Ryan, who went on to become MEG RYAN. But she was so adorable in her character that I will never forget her in that role. And that wedding was one to behold.
As it happens, by the way, there are a surprising number of famous people who got their first break on soap operas — Demi Moore and Brad Pitt, to name a couple.
I don’t ever remember Mom sitting down and watching her soaps in the afternoon. As a working mother of four kids, she had way too much to do. She would have them on as she cleaned the house or vacuumed the carpet or ironed her clothes.
There was a point when Bec enjoyed watching soap operas. I’m not certain if she actually liked watching the sensational dramas as much as she liked having a common interest with Mom from whom she lived very far away in Alabama.
I remember that when Bec and Terry moved to Germany, Mom got her a subscription to Soap Opera Digest so that she could stay current with what was going on in Oakdale and all of the other little towns where so much happened every week. I’m pretty sure that despite Mom’s best efforts, not one issue of Soap Opera Digest ever made it to Bec’s home in Germany.
And let me just say that if you miss a few months of a soap opera, you can miss a lot. Heck, some of those people were married eight or nine times. All My Children’s infamous Erica Kane, played by Susan Lucci, was married something like 13 or 14 times. I think it depended on whether or not you counted the man to whom she was married twice as one or two marriages. Life is very confusing on soap operas.
Though I occasionally run across a soap opera as I’m looking for something to watch in the afternoon, I think for the most part they ran out of steam in the late 1970s to mid-1980s. Now they have been replaced by reality television. Housewives of Timbuktu.
But I still remember the deep-voiced narrator saying Stay tuned for The Edge……of Night.