— Sigismund Schlomo Freud
Jewish Austrian Neurologist
(Yes, it’s Sigmund)
That old sci-fi TV series from the ’60s, “Lost in Space,” arguably taught me my first valuable lesson about women and how to anticipate their inevitable scorn.
Hey, I’m a man. I’ve been married three months north of 33 years. I know these things.
CBS launched “Lost in Space” in 1965, one year before that other sci-fi show that attained immortality, “Star Trek.” NBC learned a few lessons from the “Lost in Space” inauguration. What Gene Roddenberry knew that Irwin Allen did not is you needed more than laughable scenarios and improbable themes. You also needed pointed ears, short skirts and romance. Capt. James T. Kirk had more flings than a professional ax thrower. And that episode with Lt. Uhura? Way ahead of its time.
So much for the editorial chatter.
Back to “Lost in Space.”
When the show debuted, I was a brash, 10-year-old young man about town hailing from Faulkner, Miss. Perhaps not ready for prime-time pageantry, I nonetheless felt a comfort zone when in the presence of the ladies. You have to understand my first-grade romance five years earlier with the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Patricia Jackson had prepared me for life’s battle of the sexes.
Yet, I still lacked the training — call it a hidden sonar if you will — for understanding the temperament, and anticipating the unpredictable outbursts, of life’s fairer gender. I needed a sign, an alert, some form of alarm to warn me when danger was nigh. I learned it compliments of “Lost in Space.” Almost 45 years later, it still protects me from certain harm when my wife gives me “the look.”
The other evening after supper my beloved made a trip to Walmart. I was tired, probably a little cranky and just wanted to recline and take a snooze during her voyage. We’ve been together long enough to understand a physical separation — even if just 45 minutes — is healthy.
So, she ventured out and did what Walmartians do. I stayed back at camp.
About an hour later she returned, just as I was wrapping up a nightmare about winning a Pulitzer Prize only to find an inscription on the plaque reading, “April Fools!” As she entered the kitchen door, I could hear an abnormally fast shuffle in her step. I recognized this pace. Bad sign. Very bad sign.
Seemingly on a mission, she heavy-footed to the refrigerator, opened the door with purpose and grabbed a cooling sip of Diet Coke from an opened can. I feared it only thickened the steam floating from her ears.
“You know something?” she quizzed.
With renewed alertness, I sat forward in the recliner, promptly recognizing this quizzing tone. Bad, bad sign.
Without awaiting my response to her question, she fast-forwarded, “Chivalry is dead.”
I gulped ... calculating my reply.
“Chi-chi-chivalry?” I muttered in an angelic tone born of raw fear.
“In men,” she added. “Chivalry ... in ... men ... is ... dead.”
My automatic alarm inbred since “Lost in Space” sounded ... perhaps saving my life. Again.
“Danger Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!”
Those who watched the show remember it well from the Robot, that lighthouse of warning on wheels with hooked hands, corrugated-pipe arms and electric-meter head.
Like a lightning bolt, I came out of the recliner and galloped to her side as only a loving, and obedient, White Knight would do. Seems while at Walmart she was struggling to lift a 40-pound bag of birdseed into her buggy. Two male customers a few feet away ignored her futile labors and continued their casual conversation. Hence, the words “chivalry,” “men” and “dead.”
A few nights later I was delayed getting home from work ... on an eat-out night. Upon entering, I found her sitting on the end of the couch. Bad sign.
She said nothing. Worse sign.
She was hungry. And I knew it.
She looked at me. I at her.
Her legs were crossed, the toes on one foot bouncing back and forth. Even in mid-air those talons were tapping ... without a floor.
She cleared her throat and looked away.
“Danger Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!”
My beloved was treated with tender care the rest of the evening. Her Majesty was given the world, everything she could have ever wanted, and more. I was the perfect little gentleman.
Patricia would have been proud.
And so would Will.