My Life in Soaps

Llanview, Pennsylvania

Image from Wikipedia

I already know where I’m going to live when I retire.  I’m going to sell my home, most of the furniture too, and hightail it to Llanview, USA.  I’m not exactly sure where it is, since it’s not on any map.  But I’ll find it because that is the place to be.  Yep, I’ve decided I’m going to live in a soap opera, and not just any soap. I’m heading to “One Life to Live.”

I know what you’re thinking. Soaps are a dying breed.  But I refuse to believe it. Soaps have so much to offer and I should know. I’ve been watching them for decades, starting in high school when everyone was watching the original vampire soap,  “Dark Shadows.” Soaps are campy and good fun. An indulgence that is calorie free!

Soaps can bring complete strangers together. One summer during college I was a mother’s helper for a woman with whom I had nothing in common. Zippo.  Until, that is, we discovered we watched the same soap, “All My Children,” and that opened the floodgates of conversation. We  deliberated over the machinations of Erica Kane, and wondered if her mother, Mona would ever find true happiness with Charles Tyler, assuming, of course, he’d divorce Phoebe.  Fascinating stuff like this has led to many a bond between women.

I’ve been watching “One Life to Live,” for well over a decade.  So when I move there, I already have an advantage. I know all the townspeople and I’ve always wanted to live in a town where everybody knows each other.  Sure they have their problems. Infidelities, kidnappings, people returning from the dead, and people lying to each other about you name it. Alternate personalities and blackmail run rampant in Llanview. Indeed, the list of indiscretions is infinitely long.

But look on the bright side. At least I know where I’d stand. Llanview residents could lie to my face but I’d see right through them. I could even weave a tangled web of my own and introduce myself as a woman with a dark secret and nebulous past. I’d check into The Palace Hotel, the only decent hotel in the entire town. I’d also be sure to stop for a swim at the country club and a round of pool at a place called Rodi’s.

The only problem I see is that these characters don’t watch any TV themselves, unless it’s to forward the plot line, which happens only once in blue moon.  Everyone knows how much I love my TV shows so I know that’s going to be a problem.  And there are no movie theaters in Llanview either, which could be a deal breaker.

I’ve never seen any of the Llanview residents go shopping, so I’m assuming there’s no mall and worse, no Nordstrom’s. Bummer.  No grocery stores either from what I can tell, so I’m really going to have to depend on for all my needs.  There is a place to get your hair done and I’m definitely going to make an appoint when I get there, even though the woman who runs the salon has her hair all teased out and frankly, I’m not sure I want her to touch mine.

I’ll introduce myself to the chief of police and his wife, the district attorney, and make sure to stop by to meet Llanview’s mayor, a conniving woman who’s been married a gazillion times. Her last wedding ended up a wash though, when the groom was kidnapped by the bride’s ex-lover and hustled off to a prison in a faraway land.  All in the name of revenge.

Oh yes, I’m going to like it in Llanview.  The folks there are going to keep me hopping and I’ll do my best to keep them guessing as to my own identity.   It’s another world, if you ask me.

Strangers = Cheap Therapy

People who didn’t know me when I was in the throes of my divorce often ask, how did you do it? How did you get over your divorce? People who did know me then never ask. They already know. I talked. Then I talked some more. I became very talkative, letting it all out. A regular Chatty Cathy, sharing with whomever, whenever.

And that’s my number one secret to surviving divorce. Spill your guts out. You’ll feel better for it. So go ahead and talk. While you’re at it, don’t eat because chewing affects your ability to talk. Talk to friends, talk to family. Mostly, though, you should do what I did: talk to strangers.

It’s easy and gratifying and makes for cheap therapy. Besides, when you’re new in town, there aren’t a whole lot of people that you know. Everyone’s a stranger! So talk! After all, you will want to hash and re-hash all that went wrong in your marriage, the missed cues, and the hidden messages that were staring you in the face, only you didn’t notice. You will want to analyze every nuance and explore ad nauseam every single conversation you ever had with your spouse.

And what better sounding board than a stranger? Any stranger will do. It’s such a release to talk to people who don’t know you. They don’t judge you. And because they don’t know you, they’re too polite to walk away or yell,


Trust me, when you hear these words shouted at you, it’s usually a signal that you’ve somehow managed to bring your friends or family to the end of their rope, and they’re ready to strangle you if you don’t shut up right this very second, thank you very much.

Strangers, however, are nice and nod their heads as you talk, taking in everything you have to say. They recognize that when you finally take a breath, they can politely excuse themselves, knowing fully well that they’ll never have to see or listen to your whiny voice again. It’s a win-win!

So, it’s only fair and right that I take this opportunity to recognize all the strangers I met during this mind-numbing, walking-in-a stupor period of my life and thank them for helping me to get over it. They all became a part of my desperately needed therapy.

To the cashier at the Ralph’s: Thank you for being so patient with me when I held up the line because I was talking and sobbing so hard I couldn’t find my coupons no matter how many times I rifled through my purse.

To the usher at the movie theater who took my ticket: Thank you for listening and for not making fun of me for going to the movies by myself every week and getting all teary-eyed—yet empowered—seeing “Groundhog Day” over and over.

To the cab driver who drove me home from the airport—I’m not thanking you. It’s your job to listen. If you ever watched “Taxicab Confessions,” which I myself have never seen, but I imagine the cabbies in it are good listeners, then you’d know that. Now you also know why I refused to tip you. And was it really necessary to tell me that you could have predicted the demise of my marriage?

To the locksmith who drove out to my house to change the locks late one night: Thank you for suggesting I super glue my ex’s you know what. Though tempting as it was, I couldn’t. But it’s the thought that counts.

To the plumber who had to come to my house because I threw all his old letters in the toilet: Honestly, I thought they’d dissolve when flushed. I guess I didn’t notice the paper clips and staples too. Oh, and thank you for looking through my wedding album with me. Your insight was invaluable.

To the psychic at the Del Mar Fair: Thank you, but you were wrong. We didn’t get back together but you probably knew it all along and were just trying to protect my already frazzled emotions.

To the lady inside the church I wandered into: Thank you for holding my hand while I poured out my side of the story, and for letting me keep your kerchief. I will wash it one of these days.

Finally, to the bartender at the Belly Up Tavern: Thank you for carding me in order to make sure I was over 21. Clearly, I was pushing 40, but it was just what I needed at that moment.