The Professor



Note: I wrote this a few days ago, but am only now posting.


Russell Johnson, “The Professor” on Gilligan’s Island, has died.


I know untold criticism has been leveled at the show. I know some of you may think it’s the dopiest waste of time on the planet. For all I know, you’re right. But there is something more to be said about it: Gilligan’s Island saved my life.


These are the opening words of a short story I recently shared at my women’s writing group: “I was first left alone to babysit my two young sisters when I was 6 years old. As I had no idea what I was doing and in fact needed my very own babysitter, I turned to the only source of comfort in our house: the television. Early on, my TV-sitter of choice was Gilligan’s Island. Those re-runs kept me company and helped me laugh.”  You may need to re-read those words in order to understand the gravity of what I’m trying to express. I was 6. Responsibilities larger than my small frame were placed upon my shoulders. I was in the first grade, y’all. It was terrifying and overwhelming to have to care for my 2 small sisters. I was incapable of the task, but no choice was given. I broke down more than once, sobbing because I didn’t know what to do or how to process my situation. To have an escape – in any form – was life-saving. TV was my only escape.


There were other shows, sure. But Gilligan’s Island was my favorite. Here were 7 people in the impossible situation of being stranded on a tropical island, with no means of rescue. They were all different, and yet they somehow managed to survive. No, I take that back. They somehow managed to thrive in the face of their isolation. And “The Professor” was a key player in their lives. He re-charged radio batteries with pennies for cry-eye. “The Professor” rose to every challenge and never showed defeat.


I looked to “The Professor” the way some might have looked to their uncles or big brothers. He was smart and funny. Trustworthy. And when I saw him handling challenges on the island, I was inspired to do my best to handle the nut-job challenges in my little kid world. And the laughter? All I can tell you is I didn’t completely lose my mind during that time. I think laughing had a lot to do with that.


When I watch Gilligan’s Island these days, it is purely for entertainment. I usually pop in a DVD while ironing. It helps to pass the time and yes, it keeps me company. As it happens, I have a fairly decent pile of laundry in need of my ironing attention. Some time in the next few days, maybe I’ll get out my ironing board and my Gilligan’s Island collection. It’s the least I can do for “Roy Hinkley” after all he did for me.

Housework Philosophy



Yesterday found me catching up on ironing. I’ve written of this chore before, and how I tend to let it pile up until there’s just no choice. True to my historic form, the pile I faced yesterday took several hours to conquer.


To pass the time, I watched a few episodes of “Northern Exposure,” the early ’90s television show. When I turn to those DVDs, I usually only watch an episode at a time. So I had no idea there would be a running theme through various episodes. But there was. And that theme seemed to circle around being alive and actually living one’s life.


Now, I realize my standing in one place for hours on end may not resemble “living one’s life,” but the message wasn’t lost on me. In fact, I felt pretty fantastic. I got the ironing done and I got to philosophize while doing so. In the end, I recognized my own happiness. That’s not too shabby, folks. Not too shabby at all.


It’s a busy week for most of us, I know. Let’s try to remember – as we run around like crazy – to think about our lives a little. Let’s try to be grateful for the privilege of running around like crazy. In fact, let’s just try to be grateful, shall we?


Personally, I’m grateful for a lot of things. Like a closet filled with freshly pressed shirts.

Oh! The Ironing!



This is my mountain of ironing. It has piled up. And multiplied. To look at it, you probably can’t tell there’s at least 2 and a half hours of work involved. At this point, I can either burn it all in the backyard or just iron the danged stuff.


It’s windy today. I guess a backyard fire really isn’t the prudent choice, huh?


Oh! The Ironing!