We’re on the last third of season two, and it’s funny what you notice. For example: did you realize that of the major male characters, most are cheating on their wives? That’s Lt. Col. Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson), Trapper John McIntyre (Wayne Rogers), Maj. Frank Burns (Larry Linville), and Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda). The first three characters are married, and cheat on their wives with merry abandon, while Hawkeye is single but let’s face it, promiscuous. Then there’s Maj. Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan (Loretta Swit), who is sleeping with Burns, and knows he’s married.
Yet we sympathize with and like these people. If we don’t like them, like Burns, it’s not because of the infidelity, it’s because he’s a jerk. He’d be a jerk whether he was cheating on his wife or not. We sympathize with Margaret, too. For one thing, it’s hard to figure out why she’s with Burns. He’s an idiot, a mediocre surgeon, and the only thing they really have in common is their patriotism. Yet Margaret is a woman in a man’s army, and working up to the rank of Major and being head nurse at a mobile surgical unit is an accomplishment. She’s a strong woman, and I guess that makes up for the affair (which we just can’t take seriously and it is played for laughs).
So we’ve watched nearly forty-eight episodes, all of them amusing, some more so than others. The show is quite tame compared what’s on today, even on network, and certainly compared to what’s on cable. M*A*S*H ain’t got nothing on Game of Thrones, let me tell you. We tend to watch the shows after the kids are in bed, not so much for content so much as other things are going on and the kids want to do other things.
Tonight we were watching, figuring we could close out season two. Our son was still up, but busy doing something on the computer and we figured, what the heck, even if he comes out, it’s not like we’re watching Boardwalk Empire.
Indeed, he joins us and (perhaps prompted by the laugh track) laughs at the show, declares it “hilarious” and wants to watch a full episode. We say okay, one episode and then off to bed. The episode is #22 from season 2, and is called “George.” Every episode to date has been a little silly, and what happens in this one? Turns out one of the injured soldiers, a Private Weston, is gay. In the parlance of the show, “homosexual.”
Now, of course, the boy is laughing, not understanding. Weston, a white guy, tells Hawkeye that two guys in his outfit were beaten up, a Negro and a homosexual. Hawkeye’s joke is, Who’d have guessed you’re a Negro. Son wonders if homosexuals are Negroes (hey, he’s eight). I pause the show at the next break and ask if he knows what a Negro is – he says yes, colored. Close enough. Now it is left to define homosexual.
I’m a big believer in answering a kid’s question as simply as possible. So I tell him it’s when a man falls in love with another man, or a woman with another woman, instead of a man/woman pairing. Son says, well, no, that can’t work because they can’t get married. We say, no, that’s not true, they can in some places. Luckily we have a real-life example of this. Friends of ours, a gay male couple, live not too far away. They are married, active in their church and have adopted two boys. It’s on the tip of our tongues to add more, but we hold back and await reaction.
Big grin from Son, and then happy days! He exclaims that he and his best friend can get married!
Screeeeeeech!!Reverse thrusters, Captain!
No, actually, we tell him not to worry about marriage to anyone for at least another ten (or twenty or thirty) years. We also point out that friendships change and he and Best Friend may not always be so. This results in a defense of said friendship and we are happy to concede the point. Then – bed time. Ahhhh. No more awkward questions.
Except that he went up to his room, turned on the AM radio he made from an electronics kit and came back to tell us about a report her heard about a girl getting caught in some kind of cross-fire. Gah! Makes you think the Amish may be on to something.
It’s funny, you never know where that stuff will come from but you can’t always be waiting for them. A couple of years ago, my son asked my husband how babies are made (he’d just had a testing assessment and the teacher administering it was pregnant). Husband’s wonderful response: they’ll tell you that in fifth grade. I thought that was a great answer, and probably appropriate for a 6yo who didn’t really want the details.
But it’s all great story fodder.