Charlotte had subscribed to the same cable TV package for 9 years before she discovered she had the Hallmark Channel, and now it had become an obsessive compulsion. Within a week’s time, Charlotte found herself staying up late to watch episodes of The Golden Girls wondering which “girl” she was most like. After some sleep deprived thought, she decided she was probably a combination of Rose’s naiveté and Blanche’s glitz. The first few shows were entertaining in a “that will be me some day” way. She was crestfallen when during the 4th episode Dorothy mentioned she was 55. How could that be? Maybe the exaggerated shoulder pads and gray hair had lulled Charlotte into thinking the women were one generation removed. In just a matter of time Charlotte would be golden, and she wondered if she should start rounding up some wise cracking, yet lovable roommates for when Michael went off to college. Perhaps she should even consider moving to Florida. As with most obsessions in Charlotte’s life it led to others. The casual observer could make the case The Golden Girls was her “gateway drug” which led to searching for reruns of Designing Women and looking for her Steele Magnolias VHS tape. She tried watching *** in the City, but the characters were younger and more advanced than Charlotte. She preferred the slower pace of the eighties women. She could identify with the wit and carriage of Julia Sugarbaker and Clairee Belcher. If Charlotte was honest with herself she had to admit, she was drawn to something in those women that had alluded her most of her adult life. She longed to go back to a time when she was confident and had the whole world before her, a time when women still wore pantyhose and pastels.
Growing up Charlotte was surrounded by brothers. Because of her family’s many moves, Charlotte had not had the luxury of time to make more than one or two friends in any one place. Charlotte envied her mother’s close childhood friends and her relationship with Charlotte’s aunts. When they were together,they never missed a beat even if they had been apart for some time. It wasn’t until Charlotte was in high school and she established her first group of girl friends, and later in college that she truly understood the beauty of supportive women. But somewhere along the way Charlotte lost her connections to the girls who encouraged her to be herself and made her giggle, or in her case snort. For many years after her marriage, Charlotte believed she was doing right by her husband and children by withdrawing from her girlhood ties. After all, she had taken a vow before God and 150 guests, and there were pictures to prove it. With each passing visit home, Charlotte called her friends less and less. And after time, the Christmas card list dwindled. It happened so gradually, she didn’t think to miss her old life. If she had stopped to dwell on what was happening, it would have been overwhelming. It never dawned on her that she had gone into hiding even if her sensible shoes and shapeless clothes indicated otherwise.
While she was married, she made wonderful friends, but she never felt completely comfortable letting down her guard. It seemed important to keep up appearances. If it looked good, well then it was good, right? Charlotte was a homemaker with a life many would envy. She was reminded of that fact daily by her husband and the older church ladies in his Bible studies. Who was she to argue? Each time she heard those words she would resolve to be more grateful. Charlotte was forever telling her friends what a good guy she had married. To be fair to him, he started out a good guy, just not her good guy. Because of her promise to love and obey, Charlotte didn’t let on. It was easier to pretend her life was a Hallmark moment. Mercifully, she was like the frog in the pot of water and oblivious to what she had gotten into.
Fortunately for Charlotte, the slow boil hadn’t scalded her beyond recognition. Her divorce was the catalyst she needed to get back to the girl who couldn’t decide between joining the Peace Corps or flying the friendly skies pointing to the exits. Sure, she was too old to consider those specific options, but she had the chance to dream big again. The best part of her reentry into world of possibilities was being able to reach out to the girls who had been with her when they all had been on the verge of becoming something special. In spite of the 20 or so years of living in radio silence, Charlotte found herself enjoying what it was like to not miss a beat with the girls who had grown into funny, vibrant and beautiful women without her. She found herself looking forward to occasions that would bring them together. Their friendship and acceptance gave her the courage to venture out and make new connections with the women where she worked and went to church, and even come clean to the sweet friends who had only known an imitation Charlotte. She found inspiration in each friend’s story. No one she knew had escaped the ugliness of living in the real world, but each woman had endured and was lovelier than before as gold tested in fire.
Maybe that was why Charlotte preferred The Golden Girls to the women of *** in the City. They weren’t continually running back into the fire and complaining about getting burned. The real golden girls emerged smiling from the flames with their heads held high pointing out the exits to those following them out. It was comforting to know she was in good company. While watching TV in the wee hours of the morning, Charlotte was reminded of the song she learned as Brownie. She was making new friends and keeping the old. A girl could never have too much silver and gold.