a reluctant pilgrim

words & images mary von aue 

“Turn that garbage off!” I recall my mother shouting as she snatched the remote to fulfill her own demands.  It’s a standard scene in many a child’s memory: concerned parent with arms akimbo in front of the television, lecturing a slumped, eye rolling subordinate on the horrors they attempted to view.  But while other kids were forbidden from watching sex and violence, I enjoyed much sovereignty to roam the channels at my own discretion. Mom wasn’t exactly Tipper Gore. The only thing banned in our home was the TV show Friends, a sing-songy sitcom about five white people living in Greenwich Village, NYC.

“Yuppies” she’d hiss, with a cigarette firmly pursed between her lips, “those God damn yuppies drove us out!” A mere hum of the Friends theme song, let alone the mention of the word “yuppie” would send her into fits of rage as if she were harkening to her darkest hour in Vietnam. Her speech expressive of a relocation so downtrodden it could be compared to the Trail of Tears.

We had only moved to New Jersey.

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