July 28, 2011

Real Sitcoms: Perfect Strangers Part I

Ah, sitcoms. That little half-hour slice of conflict, comedy and resolution. They're as American as hot dogs and birth control. As a product of Reaganomics, with both parents working, I was more or less raised by TV. And I turned out TV. It was TV that taught me that any situation can be handled with a perfectly timed one-liner and a knowing wink to the audience. TV encouraged me to pursue whatever crazy get rich quick scheme I hatched that particular week. What harm could there be? At the very worst I'd be back where I started from, but richer for having gone through the experience and wacky mishaps.

Life, however, is a cock block of imagination. Like the fat friend that ain't getting any, it likes to interject itself where it doesn't belong. And now, the real world (no Miz) has gone back in time and rubbed its greasy, smelly paws all over our favorite TV shows.

In the first of an ongoing series, I present: Real Versions Of Sitcoms: Perfect Strangers.

Meet Larry Appleton. Conservative, mild mannered and practical to a fault. Looking to start over in Chicago after convincing the Wisconsin legal system that he's learned his lessons and has gone through the program, all he wants to do is stay low key and focus on work. If he focuses on work, those urges can't find him. That's become his mantra. Needless to say, a job as a teacher seems out of the question. His fondness for taking pictures remains, however. Some guys just never learn! 

Everything is going swimmingly for our protagonist. His life resembles something as close to normal as it ever has. He even manages to find a girlfriend. A girlfriend, his own apartment and no more urine samples? What more can a single, reformed guy ask for?

Int. Larry's Apartment

We find Larry alone, talking to an unheard voice on the phone as he attempts to unwind after a long day at work.

Yes, I understand it's summer. But surely there are "blizzards" in Chicago year round. What's that? What does the Farmer's Almanac have to do with anything? Listen, I have to be very careful with how I choose my words here. Do you know of any snow in the immediate forecast? Say, within the next hour or so? Yes, I have the TV on. Why? (Growing more frustrated) The weather report has very little to do with this conversation....COCAINE! I WANT SOME GODDAMN COCAINE OK?!?!

Larry quickly hangs up the phone, realizing the jeopardy he's put himself in. Exhausted at his attempt to unwind never getting off the ground, he falls asleep on his couch. If he thought he was going crazy before he fell asleep, what awaited him when he woke up would only serve to confirm those suspicions.

Larry, groggily opening his eyes, is immediately confronted by the dark, curious eyes of a strange man staring back at him.


Larry's startled shriek in turn leads the stranger to mirror him, as they both run around the apartment, searching for suitable hiding places. Larry jumps in his laundry basket, while the stranger oddly chooses to do a headstand on the couch, burying his head in the cushions, not unlike an ostrich in the sand.

Larry (from the laundry basket)
I should warn you. I know 3 different forms of defunct martial arts. (Whispering, to himself) Please don't call my bluff, please don't call my bluff...

The upside down stranger pulls his head out from the cushions, a quizzical expression on his face. He seems intrigued by Larry's posturing, and poses a question in a thick Eastern European brogue. 

Defunct? You know defunct?


Oh happy day! You know defunct? I KNOW DEFUNCT! Who is your favorite?

My what? I think there's been a mis..

Mine is the Mr. George Clinton and his Parliament! (Singing) WHO GOT DA FUNK!!!! WE WANT DA FUNK!!!!!

At this point, Larry is wondering if perhaps that blizzard hit after all. How else to explain the lederhosen clad European butchering P-Funk songs in his living room?

Um, if I may interrupt, who the hell are you? And what are you doing in my living room?

Oh, cousin. They said you had the humor sense! It is I, Balki! I come to visit like we talk about in letters!

Cousin? Balki? There must be some mix up. I just moved here and...

Yes! You tell me that in last letter when you invite me to come meet you in Windy Town! (Pulling a piece of paper out of his hosen, reading from said paper) 'I would love nothing more than to have you stay with me during your time in America. Sincerely, Cousin Larry"

Mind if I see that?

Larry looks over the letter, and his face settles into a look of resignation as he realizes his older brother, Mark, had set him up. And now he not only had a long lost cousin he'd never spoken to before, he apparently would be LIVING WITH HIM! These are just the kind of things that happen to Larry Appleton. Then again, maybe having some familial, if not familiar, company could serve him well. Keep him on the straight and narrow in the big city. But how will he manage the language and culture barrier while living with this...Perfect Stranger?

Stay tuned!

Note: This is the first of a few parts on this entry. I decided to break up the story into different parts cause ain't no one tryna read all that in one sitting. Be on the look out for Part II. As Good Ol' JR would say, business is about to pick up!

Shoutout to Open Mike Eagle(@Mike_Eagle)for the inspiration for this idea.

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