I’m better than Eddie Winslow

By the

August 30, 2001

Eddie, the oldest son from Family Matters would have had a kick-ass party if Carl and the family went away for a week. He would have invited over some buddies from school and, drinking soda pop and jumping on furniture, they would have partied with Erkel. The canned audience would “ooh” and groan as Eddie’s friends broke his mom’s antique vase and drove a car through the kitchen window. Eddie would realize how silly he had been to betray his loving parents and try to stop the wild soda drinking and laughing. Alas, Carl would come home early and scold his son, ultimately teaching him a life-lesson about responsibility. Eddie would offer to pay for the damages using his salary from his job as a Burger Place waiter, and all would be well.

When my entire family, sans me, went to Ireland for 10 days in the middle of August, I was firmly instructed by the parents to “be good” and “act responsibly.” Visions of their middle child dancing in the O’Reilly dining room amid the hoots and chants of hooligans probably filled their heads as they took off for the Emerald Isle. Or maybe they were thinking about what else they should have bought at the Duty Free shop. Either way, being left alone in an apartment for 10 whole days with your entire family out of the country is a recipe for something. All good sitcoms have used that plotline sometime or other. DJ Tanner throws a party, someone drives a car through the kitchen and she learns a valuable lesson. I would have liked to have been in Ireland but considering I had to stay home for work, I figured I would make the best of it.

If “making the best of it” means watching Friends and Frasier on the WB until you fall asleep on the recliner, then I sure reached my potential. My wild teen antics consisted of returning videos late and existing on a diet of pizza and french fries. For the first few days, I returned home from work, got the mail (none of which was for me), checked the messages (none) and watched TV. The only phone message I had from the first two days was from the offices of Jimmy Van Bramer for City Council; he has my vote. The sad thing is, I’m serious. My 10 days of parents-free living were fun, if not very eventful. I sincerely enjoyed letting dishes pile up in the sink, drinking out of the carton and not calling to check in when I would be late. However, it irked me that everyone thought I would be living it up, not hunkering down during my days of freedom. Even my neighbor two floors down joked with me about knocking on his door if I needed help getting the kegs up to the fourth floor. Instead, I had to hide my face in shame as I climbed my stairs on that first Friday night, Blockbuster bag and pizza box in tow. Maybe Eddie Winslow would have planned some big party, but he had the benefit of knowing that the “life lesson” music would come on at the end of the show; Carl wouldn’t spend the next three weeks nagging Eddie about how much it cost to get the carpet steam-cleaned. Eddie would have rented videos like me if he knew a kick in the ass, not a sappy soundtrack, was coming his way at the end of the show.

When my family returned home from Ireland, I was happy to hear all the stories about the wedding, scenery, relatives, etc. They were happy to hear about my job. We caught up in a few hours, and everything fell back into its own comfy little equilibrium. The switch back to normal was pretty non-descript; the dishes got washed, but I still drink out of the carton. There was no I Love Lucy moment, with our Ricky bellowing out “you have some ‘splaining to do!”

If there was a life-lesson to be learned from my experience, it’s that my parents have a pretty high impression of what I am capable of if I put my mind to it. They underestimate how much I just want to sit on my ass and watch TV. I can only imagine what they must think about the kids-gone-crazy college atmosphere. I get the same sly good-byes when I leave for college that I got when they departed for Ireland?”be good” and “act responsibly.” If they only knew they were paying $32,000 for me to do what I did over the summer, with a few classes thrown in the mix.

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