In Praise of Denny Crane

Adrienne - Sammamish, Washington
Entered on February 14, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50

First, a little background: We were a three-person family living in a cozy 1000 square foot condominium in the suburbs, quietly going about the business of life. My husband and I got up and went to work dutifully because that’s what one does. Baby was not always as dutiful about happily trotting off to daycare, but he seemed to make the adjustment once he saw how much fun the other kids were having. We paid taxes. We came home at the end of the day and unwound by watching basic cable. Then came the fourth quarter of 2008 …

Everyone seems to talk about these days in economic terms: fourth quarter, layoffs, bear market, recession. Our three-person family was changed by unemployment, as have been so many families. Unemployment –again, more economic terminology. In human terms, my husband lost his job and part of his identity when the company he worked for told him his services were no longer needed after almost 9 years of diligent service. We as a family began to have to reassess everything, which meant different things to different family members: for my husband, it meant fighting to get up every day to look for work when he felt that life held no future for him; for me, it meant changing all of my preconceptions about what we needed; and for our son, it meant trying to understand why Mommy and Papi didn’t want to play.

Now only one of us dutifully goes off to work. Baby still goes to daycare so that we don’t “lose his spot” and so that my husband can have time to focus on his job search and interviews. We still pay taxes. We no longer watch basic cable at the end of the day since we can’t afford it –we have downgraded to limited cable.

And that was where my husband found Boston Legal. One night, I awoke from my nightly nap in the comfy chair –the one I take when the baby has gone to bed ad I can no longer keep my eyes open –to hear an unfamiliar sound. Laughter. I had heard many sounds coming from my husband during his time without work: discontented sighs, angry outbursts, sobbing. But laughter? The buffoonery of this character he had found, Denny Crane (played by William Shatner), made him laugh so hard he was crying. Watch Denny catch fish with a shotgun! See Denny walk around the office with no pants on! In the middle of a crippling depression, my husband had found something to help him forget his loss of identity, to forget his loss of hope, and to find some joy for a moment. And I laughed right along with him.

And so, in the middle of these hard times, I have discovered that a little silliness is a precious gift and a laugh is priceless. My baby boy had it right the whole time. This I believe.