I also grew up watching The Dick Van Dyke Show (“oh, Rob….” who wasn’t in love with MTM even before she was a feminist icon?) which, of course, began with a dad’s pratfall over the ottoman she always kept right inside the front door.
But it was only many years later on cable when I was full-grown, that I discovered his great masterpiece of a role, Divorce, American Style, a film ahead of its time then and still painfully resonant today, and one of the many, many influences throughout my life that inspired me to do with the middle class life what the social workers instruct wives to do with their husbands:
“Get out, while you still can.”
I think maybe I was ahead of my own time in that way. I had realized, viscerally and sub-consciously but inescapably, by mid-childhood that the whole model of the middle-class, suburban, mortgage-based, corporate-employed lifestyle, was nothing but a man-trap. Nothing about what it is to be a man, is welcome, necessary or approved-of in that nightmare world.
The motto of that dystopian mechanism designed with vicious efficiency to strip a man of his soul, his will and his joie de vivre, is “this is not just about YOU…” Because nothing ever, EVER is. And the men who stay in it, living as something other than anything I can think of as men, for them I only feel a kind of smug pity.
I got out, while I still could.