Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ethel?

It's an unlikely friendship to begin with. He's a single dude who was born the year after I was married (note the age differential), a mathematician (ask me about my checkbook balancing sometime), a rock concert attender (Philadelphia Orchestra subscriber), and so forth. He reminds me of my second son in many ways, his intelligence, his wittiness, his quickness and his hidden tenderness. Unlikely, but friends nonetheless.

I've been thinking and thinking about something he said last week. He brought a candidate for a math position to my office, and while she sat there, he and I got to chatting a bit. I don't remember exactly what the conversation was, but as an aside to the candidate, he said, "Nancy's like the nextdoor neighbor from a Fifties sitcom."

I was amazed. I had no idea what he meant. I wondered if I should be offended.

I brought it up to the book club on Thursday night. A little bit taken back, too, they kicked it around for a while and tried to come up with examples and characteristics of Fifties sitcom nextdoor neighbors. We thought of Ethel Mertz, the definitive neighbor. We thought of Trixie Norton. And then we pretty much stopped. Carol pointed out that these women were faithful, supportive friends. Not the stars, but the sidekicks. The ones who set it up, who make it happen. Martha pointed out that they and I share a tendency to wear pearls, to pick out the right earrings each day, and to wear a sweater that matches something else. Hmmm. I wear dresses to work most days. I like to make people laugh.

I always liked Trixie, who didn't have to worry about going to the moon. And I was fond of Ethel, who didn't have a whole lot of splainin to do. And I like my friend. He made me think.

And he's a good hugger.


6 comments:

Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

We should all be so lucky to be described as a 50's sit com neighbor. They were great gals!

Guenveur in Kent said...

But Rhoda, from the 70s, was more fun. I found the 50s sitcoms pretty depressing. The only funny thing in the 50s was Sid Ceasar Oh, and Ernie Kovacs. And George Gobel. I don't think you are anything like Ethel Mertz or Trixie. Norton, maybe.
I don't kmow what that guy meant. But I think he likes you anyway.

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

I'd say that's a pretty nifty compliment.

Karen Dianne Lee said...

Well I just love this wonderful post but I always figured you for Laverne and I'm too tired to figure out how to spell it! I feel like I'm flaming on your blog now.

Tanya said...

I remember Ethel very well, though I'm not so sure about Trixie (I do remember the Honeymooners though) I'd say if someone wanted to compare me to Ethel then I'd be flattered. (Though I would stay away from her girdles...)

Juliann in WA said...

What a wonderful compliment - those next door ladies lived the essense of friendship - always there for one another.