Family Affair

Checking out Alice Cooper in these old Leave It To Beavers, I posted, way before Jerry Mathers was killed in Viet Nam.

But after Buffy OD’d, a pal added.

No, I said, it was before. Buffy died in 1976. I had been living in OC at the time, and it was front page news and highly detailed. I was a freshman in college that year, in fact, and Buffy’s demise was a big topic of conversation on the quad, especially all the drugs and Marines.

He was strangely silent, imagining, I figured, Buffy and drugs and the U.S. Marines.

Getting back to my narrative, I explained how Eddie Haskell became Alice Cooper sometime in the mid sixties, after the usual child star failures. I had learned that in 10th grade, and felt humiliated I didn’t know it already being that it was common knowledge. I had just arrived at a new school after year at a high school that had Future Farmers of America on campus. Future Fags of America the few hippies kids at Brea-Olinda High called them, then were beaten up by sons of farmers in overalls spattered with pig shit. There were still farmers with farms and farm animals in Orange County in the seventies, and their presence on campus was a secret thrill. Cows. Sheep. Chickens. Pigs big as Volkswagens being poked along by freshman girls in pony tails. It wasn’t cool but it was groovy in an earthy kind of way. That was Brea, and if anyone on campus knew that Alice Cooper had been Eddie Haskell on Leave It to Beaver, nobody told me. Then again, Leave it to Beaver almost seemed real at Brea-Olinda High. I knew the mildly thuggish Lumpy, the dopey Republican Wally, and the brainiac with the glasses. I even knew Eddie Haskell, though he was a short Albanian kid, funny as hell. I learned everything I know about being a smartass from that short Albanian kid. Probably the only funny Albanian kid in all of Orange County. Certainly all of Brea.

Then we moved to the other end of Brea at the end of my freshman year, which put me in another school district, and when I began my sophomore year at the much richer El Dorado High School it was like I’d fallen off the turnip truck. A lot of rich kids. I was out of my element. I soon found losers to glom onto, though, the serious rock’n’roll cognoscenti. They smoked cigarettes and talked about Roxy Music. I learned everything I know about being a music snob from those guys. And it was while with them, behind the handball courts during PE, in that holiest of high school stoner sepulchers, that I was told that no, Eddie Haskell was not Alice Cooper. How absurd. I felt like such a dork.

Now about The Beav and Viet Nam, he had died either during the Tet Offensive or on Hamburger Hill, I remember both. I’d heard that in maybe 1970, when I was in seventh grade and the Viet Nam War was at full roar. One two three what are we fighting for, we sang during recess, don’t ask me I don’t give a damn, next stop is Viet Nam. We enunciated that damn with particular gusto. I learned to say fuck then too. Been saying it ever since. The Beaver was killed on Hamburger Hill someone with an older brother said. Older brothers knew. I didn’t have an older brother and had no idea how full of shit older brothers can be. Fuck I said. The Beaver is dead? Yup. Fuck. Damn fuck. What about Wally? Someone said he was a hippie. Maybe they said that, or maybe I am making that up. I’s been so long now it’s hard to remember what is true and what was once a joke, or a lie, or a parallel universe. In real life I think he became a director. I don’t remember what exactly we thought happened to Wally, though. Or Lumpy. All I remember for sure is that the Beaver was killed in two places at once when he was not anywhere at all. Weird the shit from junior high you remember,  while forgetting everything else but a smattering of useless French sentences about le plume being sur le table.

I just wish all that other stuff was true, my buddy said, but that Buffy was still alive. I just read her wiki, he said, damn. The second saddest wiki after The Singing Nun’s.

I hope you feel ashamed, I said.

I just loved Buffy so much, he said.

Well, Jody didn’t do so well either, I said, but has recovered. I spared him the details of drugs and booze and adolescent failure. Mr. French died in his fifties after a series of strokes, and Brian Keith blew his brains out. Suicide, they say. Prostate cancer and bottomless depression. Cissy, however, thrives.

Are you TRYING to bum me out? He was almost yelling at me. He had no idea that Family Affair was so tragic. But good news about Cissy, he said, at least there was one happy ending.


Their little dog got run over by a steamroller, I said.

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