Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Thalia Menninger (and me)

I was born during the dawn of television and the impact of a lifetime of watching shows casts a unique arc of influence over my life. In those early years, before color and decades before multiple channels and on demand, gathering to watch a favorite program was an event that drew myself and my siblings together.

I wasn't old enough at the time to understand the hipness of Dobie Gillis. I knew that Maynard, his ball of string and aversion to work was pretty unique. That Dobie was often plagued with difficulties trying to accomplish any of his life goals. That Zelda always wrinkled her nose when Dobie appeared and a regular kid could be friendly with someone as high born as Chadsworth Obsourne Jr.  I relished the prospect of being old enough to be in high school, to speak knowingly around my parents and have cryptic exchanges with my friends and teachers, but the true object of my fascination was Thalia Menninger, brilliantly played by Tuesday Weld.

Thalia was everything I thought I could never be. She was never tongue tied. She always looked fresh and pretty. And she often appeared to look right through Dobie, because as fate required, Thalia needed to marry well. Money was her particular focus (she was famous for sharing “My father’s sixty years old and has a kidney condition, and my mother isn’t getting any younger either. I have a sister who’s married to a loafer, and a brother who shows every sign of turning into a public charge.")
This was a woman steered by personal responsibility- of a sort.

My mother and father are no longer among us. My offspring are thriving and finding their way. But the Thalia in me, not obsessed with financial security, but with a desire for a relationship that better fills my needs. Let's just say, I can relate.