Friday, February 10, 2012

How Punky Brewster Changed My Life

It is not uncommon for me to wake up with a random song in my head, and this morning was no exception. As I let the chickens out and sipped my brewed coffee, a flute tinkled in the background of my brain, an accent to the ongoing soundtrack of my life. What was that ditty from? Oh yes, the interlude music to Punky Brewster, my all-time favorite show as a child. Nothing like an odd start to the day.

A few years ago, I Netflixed a few seasons of the show on a whim. I often revert back to childhood themes and corny movies during times of strife. I also thought it would be wildly entertaining for me and my roommate, who happened to be an old friend from camp whom I knew would appreciate the sentiment.

The memories came flooding back- missing my cat having kittens because I couldn't bear to miss a single episode (those were the days before Tevo), standing in front of my closet each day thinking WWPW (what would Punky wear), and of course, the harsh life lessons ingrained in the show. Lessons such as, don't joke around in CPR class because you never know when your friend might get trapped in a refrigerator and need to be resussitated, and you don't want to be the guy who can't do it because you weren't paying attention. Or the importance of literacy in case your little brother drinks poison and you need to read the label. You don't have to do drugs to be popular. And of course, the subliminal messages of our need to buck the system and rage against the flaws of beaurocracy.

The themes were heavy. Maybe a little too heavy for innocent girls everywhere who had never had to dig through trash for dinner or break into a deserted apartment for shelter. When I watched with my roommate, she realized watching Punky Brewster was the reason she suffered so much separation anxiety when her parents went out. If Punky could be abandoned in a grocery store parking lot, how could any of us be safe? In a chaotic, right-wing time of Reaganomics and a national obsession with money and status, the message was clear: if an orphan and her puppy could make it in the school of hard knocks, then so could you.

But there were simpler lessons, as well. It's okay to be weird. Be yourself, and love who you are. Be a devoted friend.

Punky's indefatigable spirit and iron clad moral constitution set in motion for me a lifelong role model of the kind of person I wanted to be. She was a gal who could see the bright side of things and keep it all in perspective. The adoption agency won't approve of an old man becoming her foster parent? Just another administrative hoop to jump through. Bad things will always happen to good people, and all you can do is keep being good and hope for the best. Do things for others and be the best you can each day, and all will turn out right.

A nice reminder from the adorable 80s theme song on my internal loop this morning.


1 comment:

marthagoudey said...

You are all the things you learned from Punky and much more.