Am I the only one who got really excited on Friday nights when Love Boat and then Fantasy Island came on television? Sure it was like thirty years ago, but it still is sort of thrilling to remember. That was the night my parents usually went out and we had a babysitter. This was BIG fun for me and my sister. We had this game we played called “dinner.” We wouldn’t go to bed until the babysitter ate the “dinner” we made for them. We’d mix all sorts of awful things together. If you imagine something like fruit loops, pepper, garlic salt, raw pasta, mushrooms and mustard all drenched in orange juice, you’ll get the idea. We were mean. I would also try to scare them by saying stuff like “in 1890 I sang in a piano bar in Nebraska after surviving the cattle drives.” I’d say it really serious with a far off look in my eyes. I would stay in character for hours. It was like my way of making them think I was having a past-life regression. I was also Houdini a lot…that usually rattled them because they couldn’t find me. I was normally hiding in a trunk. When the sitter opened the trunk, I would be in a trance-like state attempting to free myself from the ropes my sister had placed around my wrists, ankles and throat. When I was kid, I read our World Book Encyclopedia as a hobby. Therefore, I had tons of information and a large pool of historical characters to regress and morph into. We were so mean. We never had the same babysitter for very long. I should be more ashamed.
Anyway, back to Love Boat and Fantasy Island. When those shows came on, the poor hapless teenage girl who took the babysitting gig got a break. These shows were just too important to continue whatever torture we were imposing. Now don’t get me wrong, I had my “past-life regressions” during the regular commercial breaks or my sister might pull a Barbie doll head off with her teeth in an evil menacing gesture at the sitter, but otherwise Love Boat and Fantasy Island got our full attention. The special guests arriving on the Pacific Princess or disembarking from the plane, the plane to meet Mr. Roarke and tattoo, were always so enticing. You might have Charo and Kristy McNichol one week and then John Amos and Loni Anderson another Friday! Eventually, babysitters stopped coming for obvious reasons and we were pretty sad that our torture capades were over, but the fun of watching Love Boat and Fantasy Island never waned until we matured enough to watch the shows and think WTF?!