Television sitcoms are funny because they feel true even though they’re not. We watch high intensity dramas for the pleasure of suspending disbelief for a bit. But a good sitcom feels like it could have happened to you or someone you know.
I have always enjoyed the episode titles for shows like “Friends” because they provide a little reminder of the (always hilarious) content. “The One Where the Monkey Gets Away,” “The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break,” etc.
If somebody decided to turn my life into a sitcom, “The One with the School Play” would surely be a favorite episode.
Every year the elementary students at my kids’ school stage a play for their friends and family. Usually it’s an adaptation of a book they’ve read during the school year, but finding stories with a 24-person cast of characters can be tricky. Sitting through an elementary production involving 24 characters can also be tricky, but I digress.
This year, my son was cast as the Spelling Bee in the Phantom Tollbooth while my daughter snagged the role of Narrator 1. The most difficult part of this endeavor for me is always costuming so I thanked my lucky stars for these assignments. Narrators apparently just wear pretty dresses (done!) and bees are fairly straightforward. Yellow shirt painted with black stripes, black shorts, antennae headband, wings.
But wait! The wings are a bit sparkly. Cue the childhood existential crisis.
Can a seven-year-old boy wear sparkly bumblebee wings in public? Does the presence of said sparkle render them butterflywings (gasp, shudder) rather than bumblebee wings? Will life as we know it cease to exist?
To give my son credit, the crisis didn’t immediately occur to him. He actually requested the wings and loved them…until his older sister helpfully ‘warned’ him that his peers were likely to laugh at him for wearing them. Ah, siblings. Always watching each other’s backs.
Luckily, my son is pretty strong-willed. After I reminded him that he used to wear leggings, tutus, and tank top dresses to school on a regular basis, utterly impervious to the gender commentary of his classmates, he embraced the wings.
Whew. Tragedy averted.
But wait! Three minutes before the show was due to start, my youngest child somehow clobbered herself in the nose and started bleeding profusely. No stranger to random nosebleeds, she handled the situation pretty. I mopped her up as best I could and kept a hand on her nose throughout the production. The surrounding families were quite gracious about the growing pile of soggy, bloody tissues on the seat next to me.
Tradition dictates that after the production, families celebrate with ice cream at Baskin Robbins. The kids love it and it’s always a lot of fun.
But wait! In this episode, the well-meaning-but-sometimes-clueless mother makes a huge miscalculation relative to the size of the scoops, and foolishly allows her children to order and consume far too much ice cream. Later in the evening, we find all three children lying in their beds, moaning and threatening to puke. (Mercifully, no one did.)
You can just mail my Mom of the Year trophy to me right now, okay?
I’m convinced that 95% of the things that happen in TV sitcoms have probably happened to someone in real life because you just can’t make some of this stuff up. Real life provides the best comedic material there is!