For the past few weeks I’ve been on binge watching the sitcom Cheers on Netflix. After all of these years, it’s still funny. Sam Malone, still cool; Carla, still hilarious, Diane, still uptight; and Coach, still dumb.
A few weeks prior to the show’s debut on September 30, 1982, I was wrapping-up my first season at Marriott’s Great America, my first job.
While I have tons of memories of my days at the amusement park, what I remember most about the summer of 1982 is spending time with my cousin, Lilly, who was visiting from El Paso. In those days my dad took us to visit my grandmother just about every weekend, which is where Lilly was staying, and where I met her for the first time.
On the car ride over, my dad asked if I would reserve some time to entertain her since she was visiting alone. I wasn’t too excited about that, but once I met her, my attitude quickly changed. She and I hit it off almost immediately. In fact, I spent just about every day-off from work at my grandma’s house.
We’d listen to music together, watch movies, and talk — a lot. She would talk about how much she loved the Rolling Stones’ frontman, Mick Jagger, and Mexican singer/composer, Juan Gabriel; and I would talk about my love for Michael Jackson and MTV. Hanging out together took all of our teen stresses and worries away. About the only thing we couldn’t do was get away. Because I was too young to drive, we bummed rides from my uncles, to get ice cream, fast food, and for trips to the mall.
One day, after growing tired of short trips, errands, and being at my grandma’s house all day, Lilly and I asked if we could take the bus to the fairgrounds. And although my grandma was a little reluctant to let us go, she allowed us to so long as we returned in a few hours.
The truth is, we had no intention of going to the fairgrounds. Instead, we went to my house. She wanted to see where I lived, and I wanted to show her my high school, and some of the cool spots in my neighborhood, like the popular, Taco Villa (similar to Taco Bravo).
By the time we returned — about five hours later — my grandma’s house looked like a missing persons bureau. Needless to say, we were in big trouble. To our chagrin, we weren’t allowed to go anywhere after that.
Part of me understood my family’s concern, another part of me wanted to tell them to chill out!
During that summer, Lilly and I were the best of friends…best of cousins, in fact. When I learned that she was leaving, I went to see her off at the Greyhound station in downtown San Jose. Watching the bus leave the station made me so sad. I walked back to a public bus stop with a huge lump in my throat.
So what does any of this have to do with the show Cheers? Nothing. Except that — for weeks — the lyrics to the show’s theme song reminded me of my cousin:
Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
For months I avoided the show — because of the song. Alas, in time, life was back to normal.
Incidentally, about fifteen years would pass before I saw her again. She called to let me know that she would be in San Francisco for a short period of time. So I took my girlfriend (now wife) to meet her and a few others for lunch at a Thai restaurant in The City. I haven’t seen her since — at least not in person (we are connected through social media).
As a child, summers were always a gift. During the time off from school, I got to spend weeks on end with my cousins. In 1982, Lilly was a new family face, but she, like every other one of my cousins, were always a blast to hang-out with.
To all of you, who have shared great memories with cousins…