“There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.”—Rod Serling’s intro to the 1960s TV show, The Twilight Zone
“Since today is Wednesday,” said my friend on the phone last week, “I think I’m going to … (insert long pause) … it is Wednesday, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it’s Wednesday,” I laughed. But even as those words were leaving my lips, I glanced toward the curb noting that trash placed there earlier was gone. “Wait,” I retracted. “Trash day mean It’s Tuesday.”
Our mutual senior moment when neither of us knew with any certainty what day it was prompted laughter and my confession that a cooped-up lifestyle coexisting with the coronavirus felt like an episode of The Twilight Zone. I had that same feeling a couple of days later when the morning dawned to awaken my senses from slumber, a daily ritual typically occuring around 6:00 a.m. The clock, however, revealed a harsh reality: it was already past 8:00. “Five after eight,” my coffee craving mind cried out. “You’ve overslept. Move it, get out of bed.”
Feet on the floor and stumbling toward the coffee pot prompted that inner voice, you know the one that asks all the hard questions. “What’s the rush? What do you plan to do today that would be different from yesterday?” Seriously? How was I supposed to know that when I didn’t even know what day it is?
These days of social distancing, sheltering in place, or as I like to call it: self-incarceration, have eliminated any need for names noting what day it is. Forget labels like Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. All we need in isolation is “today, yesterday, and tomorrow.” Next, I suppose we will do the same when talking about time. Every hour is just like the last one which will be like the next one, so the only time terminology needed is “now, while ago, and later” … a perfect plot for an episode of The Twilight Zone.
That’s when an answer to “what are you doing today” came to me. After searching shelves in the closet, I found them: that collection of the best from the Golden Age of television. A carefully assembled library of the best shows to ever grace the glow of a black-and-white picture tube, despite doubters who once scoffed, “When are you ever going to watch all of those old shows.” Ha! Where are those naysayers, now that I can finally answer that question?
So, if you need me today or tomorrow, now or later, I’ll be with Broderick Crawford playing Chief Dan Matthews on Highway Patrol guarding the highways in his black and white ’55 Buick barking “ten four” and “2150 to headquarters” over his car radio.
Other days, you’ll find me with Jack Webb as Sargent Joe Friday on Dragnet solving crime on the streets of 1950s Los Angeles “working the day watch out of homicide,” gathering “the facts, ma’am, just the facts.” Or maybe cruising Route 66 with Martin Milner and George Maharis as Tod and Buzz looking for adventure in their Corvette.
Other days and different times it will be 77 Sunset Strip, Zorro, Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriett, I Love Lucy, Sea Hunt, Whirly Bird, My Friend Flicka, or You Bet Your Life with Groucho Marx.
Every episode a temporary escape from The Twilight Zone of 2020 amid shows from a time when life was much easier than we realized then with our TV heroes who we knew would save the day.
Waiting out this virus in isolation, thankful and praying for the real-life heroes of today who are risking their health and life battling COVID-19 on the front lines to write the final episode of this current twilight zone and enter those better days we all know are just around the corner.
(Photo credit: Wikimedia Evert F. Baumgardner / Public domain)
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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune, the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.
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