When I was young my mother used to tell me that I could be anything I wanted to be if I wanted it bad enough and I took her seriously when I was five. Just like kids today, I was highly influenced by the things I saw on TV. I remember trying to twitch my nose like Samantha on the show “Bewitched” to see if I could get things to float to me through the air. When it didn’t work I was disappointed, but was sure if I just practiced I could pull it off.
Then there was my brother Greg, also influenced by the ‘boob tube,’ who one afternoon after watching an old “Batman” episode involving The Penguin, climbed up on our roof with an umbrella, opened it up and jumped. He was quite surprised when he did not just float to the ground like Burgess Meredith did on TV. Fortunately we lived in a one story ranch-style house so the distance between the roof and the ground was not so great that an emergency room visit was warranted. I still tease him about what a stupid move that was and then he promptly reminds me that I once ate some “mud pie” expecting it to taste like chocolate. It did not…taste like chocolate. He will also remind me of the time I ate a bowl of grass so I could be like my horse…who ate grass. I still have an unhealthy relationship with food even today, but I have given up bowls of grass and mud pies for things like donuts and Cheetos.
My real ambition however, was to be a secret agent spy like Emma Peel on The Avengers. Her self confidence combined with superior fighting skills, intelligence, and a contemporary fashion sense were to me, the ultimate. Those black leather jumpsuits she wore with the little high heeled boots were the epitome of sophistication and allure. Even though there was never a spouse in the picture, she was known as “Mrs. Peel” because the story was that her husband had gone missing while flying somewhere over the Amazon. For some reason even at my young age this too, sounded appealing…married, but not really. She and her suave partner Johnathan Steed, also unattached, stealthily traveled around England righting wrongs and serving up justice. I can still remember the intro…
“Extraordinary crimes against the people and the state, have to be avenged by agents extraordinary. Two such people are John Steed, top professional, and his partner Emma Peel, talented amateur. Otherwise known as The Avengers.”
During this voice-over, Steed pours two drinks from the wine bottle and Mrs Peel replaces her gun in her boot. They clink glasses and depart together. Fade to black and then the opening titles proper begin. It was magical. I never did develop her superior fighting skills and if someone so much as raises their voice at me I have to fight back the tears, and the fashion sense? Don’t ask, however those of you who know me won’t even have to guess at the answer to that one.
Yes, I’m afraid that the hours and hours of watching television as a youngster had a profound effect on my psyche. Sometimes, even today, I will twirl around and around imaging what it would feel like if I really did turn into Wonder Woman.