Twilight Zone marathons date back to 1980 on regional TV, and in past years—celebrating New Year’s Day—has resided with Syfy (a cable and satellite channel owned by NBCUniversal). Being a big fan of it (and Rod Serling), it’s usually on in my house when it airs (even though it’s also available on-demand at Netflix). So, over the years, my daughters have become fans, too.
One episode that my two youngest daughters caught on New Year’s Day was, ‘The Trade-Ins.’ Afterward, it came up in discussion when I noticed that my daughter Amelia had tears in her eyes. So, I asked her, “What’s wrong?”
“That…” she gestured at the television.
“Why are you crying about it?”
“Because the old man was willing to live with pain if he could be with his wife.” She looked at me and asked, “Do you like it… that episode?”
“It’s one of my favorites.” But I knew it hadn’t always been. As I’ve gotten older, it became increasingly so, and I wanted Amelia to know that. “But I didn’t really understand and relate to it until I was much older than when I first saw it.”
Amelia is the Queen of All Questioners but not complicated. She asks simply… why (as I had just done to her). And that’s often the hardest question to answer. It requires you pin down your reasons. She slid back in the chair, so I knew she wanted to talk about it…
I said, “Well, the story is about something true. Love—real love—has nothing to do about the outside and everything to do with the inside.”
“What do you mean?”
I sat back, too. “It’s not the person outside that counts… it’s the inside you fall in love with. And it’s that person, who they are and who they become over the years… that you stay in or fall out of love with. It’s a two-way thing. Because it’s not just them. It’s about you, too… who you were, who you are, who you become… inside. Not what you look like then, now or tomorrow. We all age. We all are not as young, handsome, or beautiful as we once were. That doesn’t matter. It’s what’s inside us.” I leaned toward her. “You asked why I like this?”
“It’s because they loved each other for who they really were and given a chance for only one to change their outside would have jeopardized that. Their love, what they had together, was stronger—more important—than the lure of youth and beauty.”
Amelia smiled, got up, and gave me a neck hug then headed into breakfast. A few minutes later I heard her talking to Beta about it. I listened, smiling, and the song ‘12th of Never’ sung by Johnny Mathis came to mind… hauntingly beautiful:
[You can find this episode, ‘The Trade-Ins’ on Netflix.]
ABOUT ALPHA & BETA:
I have four daughters. My oldest has grown up during a period when I worked for others and then myself. My second oldest was born 15 days after my resignation from my corporate job became effective on January 2, 1996. So, she’s seen my life as an entrepreneur and business owner from day one. Those early years in business were hard, as they often are, and I became like the father in ‘Cats in the Cradle‘ (the Harry Chapin song). Always busy, too much to do and not enough time, eaten up with stress and worry about many things. Then, in 2008, I made some changes and pursued what I do today. Writing and publishing. And that made a world of difference in having time for my family. The two youngest—twins I refer to as Alpha & Beta—have had more daily time with me as they grew up than their two older sisters… and much of it has been through my new lens as a writer. So, our conversations and kitchen table discussions—several times—have turned into a series of ‘stories.’