Swingtown: Wishing And Doing

By Elaine B

Back in my early employment days, I landed a job at a small business publication. To be fair, the same cuteness factor that kept me from driving a bus landed me this one. It was not in journalism, my field, but in sales, which I truly hate, but any job is better than none. I had a small windowless office and without warning, on about day two of my employment, a heavyset older man wandered in, sat down, closed the door, lit a cigar and said, “Has anyone ever told you that you have a beautiful bosom?” Then he proceeded to silently puff away, the cloud of smoke rising to ceiling where it accumulated and began to grow and fall toward us. Just about the time I was fairly convinced that my visitor and I were going to die of asphyxiation, someone came in and rescued me.

Ah, to have been Janet in that moment, when, though new to her temp job, she had the balls to tell her lecherous new boss at the Daily Sun where he needed to keep his hands, or her husband would come and beat the man up. Roger? She hardly needed him.

Nope, Roger is off visiting the psychiatrist where he confesses that he thinks he is in love with his wife’s best friend. “Friendship and marriage are two different things,” the woman cautiously tells him (probably because, having met Janet, she is terrified of giving him any other advice). But shouldn’t they be the same person? he asks.

Meanwhile, Susan and Bruce decide that, their family vacation having been a disaster, they will spend the rest of Bruce’s time off trying to reconnect with each other. This is a very good idea, especially for Bruce who ought to be paying attention to her after her comment about them acting “like they really love each other.” Alas, reconnecting cannot compete with golf, and it’s tee time.

Alone, Susan does what housewives do and goes to the grocery store where she runs into Roger, and decides to go back to his empty house and help him make dinner. There she confesses that she had called him. He confesses that he had called her back. Things might have gotten interesting but Janet arrives. Later dinner was overcooked – but, hey, wasn’t she there? Couldn’t she check the chicken Kiev? But if she had, it would not have been blackened Kiev instead of moist buttery Kiev. Better to be passive aggressive and make Roger understand who will be wearing the apron in that family just as soon as he gets a job so Janet can take it back. In one of the night’s better moments, Janet tells Roger, “You need to stop wishing and start doing.” A good line, considering what is on his mind. Then he asks Janet what would make her happy. Having you get a job so we can go back to the way we were before, she tells him. Yeah, they were so happy then.

Meanwhile, Laurie is trying to get more independent by learning to drive. Bruce volunteers to teach her, but she says Doug was going to. Later, the couple has what starts as a driving lesson that doesn’t last long – oh, young love! – and he suggests she take her father up on his offer to teach her.

That night Tom and Trina plan to visit a disco owned by a friend of theirs looking for investors, giving the show a chance to pull out the white vests and black shirts of the era. They take Bruce and Susan along to show them a good time. Everyone has quaaludes and life gets mellow (hmmm, is anyone but me wondering how they got home?) and mellower in their pool and one thing leads to another and we’re pretty sure how it ends but being CBS, we get to sort of guess.

While the parents are doing something that looked a lot like swinging, Rickey and BJ play strip poker with Sam and her really cute friend Lisa (expect good things from Caitlin Custer in the future, especially if Hollywood ever needs someone to star in the Young Drew Barrymore). When Rickey loses a hand wearing only his briefs and has to strip, Lisa takes him off to someplace private leaving Sam and BJ alone. BJ gets a kiss. Rickey manages to get another girl furious at him. He seriously needs to polish his moves … though kids that age (particularly boys) really don’t have many moves, or much polish.

The next day, Laurie asks Bruce to take her for driving practice. He freaks out and freezes and she tells him to chill. Then, in one of Bruce’s crowning moments, he tells her how proud he is of her and why. It is a conversation every father should have with his daughter and, sadly, not all do. He’s showing that he can learn – but is it too late?

Because, Roger shows up at Susan’s, asks if they are alone and – finally, after so much yearning – the music is right and so he kisses her. Oh, you producers, you rotten teases. That should have been five minutes from the end, not the very final scene. I want to know what happens next besides Susan’s worshipful eyes as she gazes at the man she loves.

And, in the absence of verifiable DNA testing, I’m also wondering if we will ever know who the father of Trina’s baby turns out to be.

But that’s for next week.