Last Thursday evening, I was fortunate enough to catch a case of food poisoning that lasted in the late hours of Friday night. It was a 24 hour yack-a-thon starring yours truly. The highlight of this time would have to have been when I almost tagged a coworker with the vomit of shame. I’m not here to blame anyone for my infirmity. Surely this was complete happenstance and not an act of treachery. However, I couldn’t help but notice that my lovely wife was not puking alongside me at any point. In fact, she seemed downright healthy even though we ate the same food. I’m not saying that she put eye drops in my sammich. I wouldn’t dream of saying that she maliciously and deliberately poisoned me as revenge for some unknown transgression. I would never say anything to implicate my infallible spouse in some type of plot aimed at methodically ending my existence. However, if I do happen to expire at some point within the next few months, I believe that the authorities will do the right thing and Christine will be featured in her own Lifetime movie before the year is out. I’m sure it’ll be called Venom: The Christine M. Story: One woman’s desperate plan to escape an abusive husband. For realism, I think I’m going to have to start beating her. I don’t make the rules here. If we want this thing to be big, we’re going to need some bruises. Sorry babe.
As a result of this ruthless attack upon my person, I spent a fair amount of time last week sitting on or laying beside the toilet. In that time, I was able to do some reflecting. And in that reflection, I thought about what shows I would watch once I escaped my porcelain dungeon. All I could come up with was a plan to drag myself under the covers, pulling up Netflix, and start a Justified marathon while trying not to poop the bed. I think I made it 15 minutes before falling asleep for the next 4 hours. I call that a win. But the whole event got me thinking. What ever happened to all the daytime shows that I used to love watching when I stayed home from school?
I was a pretty sickly kid, so I had several opportunities to stay at home and watch TV while I should have been in school. Everybody has their favorite sick day shows. I want to go over some of the major shows from my childhood that got me through every sick day without fail.
So many school absences, so much time to watch Nickelodeon. Like any kid growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I thought Nickelodeon was the greatest network in ever. Sick day mornings would usually start off with some ancient Mr. Wizard reruns. Next up was You Can’t Do That on Television. Holy damn! Did you know that Alanis Morissette was on 7 episodes of that? And did you also know that it ran for 10 seasons? 10 fucking seasons! Community has been on life support since season one! Hey, do you remember the time when that guy Barth was making burgers and then…yeah I don’t either. I just read that on IMDB. I don’t even remember anyone named Barth, but apparently he was pretty popular. Seriously, I used to watch every episode of this show and I can’t remember a thing about it. I do recall people getting slimed a lot and some guy walking around in a suit of armor once. This is probably the first skit show that I was exposed to outside of SCTV and SNL. I remember characters from both of those shows but not this one. Ed Grimley, Count Vlad, and “Crazy Legs’ Herschman shaped my sense of humor and are probably the biggest reason I can’t laugh at generic comedy now. Also, generic comedy blows ass. But YCDTOT (I guess this is the abbreviation?) is like this black hole in my head. Maybe it’s cause the show was terrible and there really wasn’t anything worth remembering. Or maybe it’s just because I drink…a lot….all the time. I watched it all the time, so I guess it couldn’t have been all that bad.
Late morning brought Pinwheel and Today’s special. Both show names may sound vaguely familiar, but I bet you don’t really remember anything about them. Today’s special had the guy Jeff that was actually a mannequin, but turned into a person when he wore a magic hat. That’s some Inception level stuff. There was even a muppet security guard. Naturally, it was one of my favorite shows. All I remember about Pinwheel was the song. And now that’s stuck in my head. Fanfuckintastic. Throw in some Fraggle Rock awesomeness and my morning was just about wrapped up. Now this is a show I remember! The Doozers, Wembley, and the Great Trash Heap were the strars of the show for me. I never really cared for the pragmatic Fraggle enough to remember his name. Fraggles and Muppets may have been my favorite part about being a kid. A close second was snow cones after little league games. I’m still pretty disappointed that I didn’t get to grow up to be either Gonzo or a pro ballplayer.
I also always wanted to steal a Doozer and make him build me stuff. They always have the coolest little bikes and erector set ramps. Together we would have constructed a mighty empire indeed. It’s not like Jim Henson ever granted them any rights. I heard they couldn’t unionize either.
I capped off every sick day morning with a 30 minute morality lesson in the form of David the Gnome. If you don’t know who he is, then this conversation is over. In every episode this badass lil’ doctor taught me that stealing was wrong, humans are essentially evil creatures, and that trolls will turn into stone if I can just hold out until morning.
Naturally, no one’s sick day morning was complete without witnessing the greatness of The Price is Right. If you never deliberately stayed home from school to see Bob and his fine-ass ladies giving shit away every day at 10 a.m., then I hate you. And I’ll always hate you because you never had a true American childhood. What was not to like about The Price is Right? This kind old man played mind games with people every day while incredibly hot women walked around in really short skirts. That’s a recipe for success my friend. Like most people, I was partial to Plinko and the game with the yodeling hiker that falls off the conveyor belt. If you don’t know what those are, ask a real American.
Sick day afternoons in the late 80’s and early 90’s were all about the game show. I crammed as much game show time into my young brain as I possibly could. After the Price is Right, Press Your Luck blew my goddamn mind. Those contestants were almost always terrible. The show literally measured your greed level. And if your greed got the best of you, that little Whammy bastard moon-walked across the screen and I would just about shit myself in delight. Add some Scrabble and 100k Pyramid and my lunch hour was over. 100k Pyramid was great, but I never knew who any of the celebrities were. After lunch came the prime time sick day game shows. The big boys always rolled out when all the old viewers were waking up from their post lunch naps. My power hour kicked off with some Win, Lose, Or Draw. I’m almost, but not at all, ashamed that I was addicted to this show. I remember begging my parents to get the board game version but never having as much fun as it looked on TV. Maybe we should have ordered the host too.
The best game show of the day was easily Hollywood Squares. Its wonderfulness was immeasurable. Two contestants played a giant game of trivia-based Tic, Tac, Toe. The celebrities on the giant grid would make the cheesiest jokes that I thought were television gold. Did Shadoe Stevens even have another job or was it just to be the center square? I didn’t give a shit. The TV told me he was famous and it was so. I can still picture his feathered blond hair today. And if you picked the secret square, shit got real. My life has gone steadily downhill since the time ALF hosted the show. Circle got the mother fuckin square that day. Afternoon game show time always ended with a bit of a let down. And I name that let down Supermarket Sweep. I watched it. And I remember hating it. And now I hate it even more because I just found out this abortion of a show ran for over 1,100 episodes! This show was literally a 23 minute grocery commercial. I praise and despise the geniuses that churned out this show. Now that we’ve established that God in fact does not exist, lets move on to late afternoon TV.
I remember always winding down my sick day with the good people of WGN. Why WGN you say? That why is Night Court. It’s still one of the funniest shows from my childhood. I refuse to go back and watch lest I somehow lower my opinion of it. You had the comic genius of John Larroquette as Dan Fielding. The rest of the cast was rock solid, but Dan really brought the room together. There were 193 episodes of courtroom greatness. And what guy my age didn’t fall in love with Markie Post? Without Markie, there is no Ally McBeal. She’s aged well too. I still would. You had everything on this show you could ever want. The “will they or won’t they” couple, the wildcard, the lecherous a-hole, the calm voice of reason, and of course the sassy black woman. Apparently they had to kill of a couple of cast members to get the exact right amount of sassification though.
By the time Night Court ended, school was usually letting out and I had to plot to destroy my older brother yet again. With the help of whatever fever, migraine, or imagined sickness I had, I managed to bail on school and buy some valuable TV time. I know I wasn’t the only kid to ever do this. What were some of your favorite sick time shows? Josh out. *drops mic*