I’ve always loved the television show The Golden Girls. I watched it with my parents as a kid when it originally aired on NBC. When I was in law school, I would watch it late at night after I got back to my apartment from studying at the library. Ben even gave me the first season on DVD early on in our relationship. The Hallmark channel now shows reruns early in the mornings and late in the evenings. Recently, I bought all seven seasons and watched all episodes in order. The show was ground breaking at the time because it showed mature women living together as roommates in Miami, supporting one another as they worked, dated, talked, and ate lots of cheesecake. It also tackled subjects like aging, fixed incomes, homelessness, AIDS, healthcare for women, LGBTQ concerns, and politics. For the most part, the show still holds up today.
Blanche (Rue McClanahan) was the beautiful, sexy one; Sophia (Estelle Getty) was the oldest one, who was both wise and wise cracking; Dorothy (Bea Arthur) was the smart, sarcastic one who suffered others’ ridicule about her looks and dating life; and Rose (Betty White) was the innocent, sweet one from St. Olaf, a fictional town in Minnesota. One day a couple of friends and I were talking about our love of The Golden Girls when one asked, “which one are you?” Immediately upon being asked, my friend and I both responded, “Dorothy.” I was convinced I was most like Dorothy. I wanted to be Dorothy. And then one day, I was watching an episode and thought, “Oh no, I’m Rose!”
Now, let me be clear – they called Rose stupid on a regular basis, and I’m not stupid. But naïve at different times in my life about certain subjects, yes. Maybe even today I fall into the naïve category at times because people’s actions still surprise me. I find myself baffled at the news and social media. Just the other day, I tried to read a series of twitter comments by a group of teenagers, and I hardly understood a word they were saying. I like to think that I’m pretty open-minded, but my eyes are still opened on a regular basis – in both good and bad ways. Rose always tried to learn when she was presented with new information, and I hope I do the same.
I told myself I didn’t act like Rose. She told tales beginning with “back in St. Olaf” in order to make a point. But then I realized I tell a story every single week on my blog that starts with a small moment I observed or experienced that led to a larger life lesson. I also grew up in a small town. Not in Minnesota, but in Arkansas. Plenty of people make fun of me because of my hometown just like they did Rose. And I know that I’ve always had a reputation for being a goodie-two-shoes just like Rose. Although Rose can be edgy, as can I. I still laugh when Rose delivers the line to Dorothy, “Wow, with only three hours of sleep, I can be as bitchy as you!”
After my initial disappointment at recognizing myself in Rose, I realized that maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. Rose is kind and friendly. She cares deeply about her friends and family. She is earnest and authentic. She likes to laugh and tries to be happy. I try to embody all of those positive qualities. I don’t always succeed, but I make the effort most of the time.
After all these years, I’m still adjusting to this newfound kinship with Rose. I’ll watch the show as usual but with a new view to appreciating Rose. I’ll look for the qualities that make her character special and embrace them as my own. There’s something special about living with our hearts open to wonder. Maybe we could all use a little more Rose in our lives.