Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
People have searched for the fountain of youth since the beginning of time Ð or at least since their middle ages.
I am ready to announce here, today, the source of the fountain. I wish I could claim credit for the discovery, but it was my sister's find. In her opinion, youth isn't so much about wrinkles, gray hair, sagging skin or broken hips. It's about being hip.
"You stay young by being trendy," she said. "You've got to know what's going on."
The key to knowing what's going on has been under our noses and as close as our living rooms for the last 50 years. The secret to eternal youth involves nothing more than thinking inside the box. The box in question? A normal, everyday TV.
According to my sister, the solution lies specifically with sitcoms. To stay hip, one must watch the new ones Ð no reruns of classic Cheers or Seinfeld episodes will do. Staying current is key to keeping you cool.
"You watch those old ones and you're going to be trapped in the '80's," she said.
I nodded, agreeing with her. Only trouble is, I'm still a fan of Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond. This, says my sister, is not good enough. It's not even close.
"You put your channel on those and you'll get stuck; the world will move forward and you'll never catch up," she warned. "Pretty soon you'll find yourself tucking in your shirt and wearing a belt, even though you're living in a world were everyone else goes untucked and unbelted."
I looked down at my waist, yanked my T-shirt out over my belt and hoped she hadn't noticed.
Like the rest of us from the Brady Bunch generation, I've lived a few years and have watched the world evolve onscreen, so I know what she's talking about. I remember Opie Taylor and Beaver Cleaver and then that same Opie, years later, as Ritchie in Happy Days. I watched Samantha Stephens wriggle her bewitched nose and Mary Tyler Moore throw her hat in the air. I identified with Marsha Brady, loved Alex Keaton's family ties adventured along with the Huxtables and totally understood why Joanie loved Chachi.
I've laughed with them all. Along the way, I was gleaning fashion tips from the small screen (even though I didn't realize it at the time). Mini skirts, shoulder pads and big hair Ð they were all role-modeled for me by sitcom stars.
From sitcoms and beyond, I grew up with the classics. Cheers. Carol Burnett. Seinfeld. Star Trek.
They were trendy and helped to keep me hip. Now, it seems, they only age me. They send me back in time at warp speed Ð from hip to drip in the blink of an eye. I'm all for being as cool as the next soccer mom, but must confess I've slipped in the last few years. If I want to keep on fraternizing with my cool sister, I'm going to have to kick it up a notch.
Even though Raymond may have the best jokes on TV, this issue isn't about jokes. At my age, I've got to worry about trends. And fashion. And keeping up with the cougars and desperate housewives. Repeat the mantra: youth at all costs.
I am doing my best to convince myself all this is true, but I'm not sure hip is the answer. There's something to be said for a face that's lived a full life and isn't ashamed to show it. Sitcoms may help us retain our youthful coolness by showing us the newest trends, but I think we may be overlooking one important factor.
Sitcoms are funny. And they don't call them laugh lines for nothing.
Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" at booklocker.com. She also offers writing and design services at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com. Check Slices of Life out on Facebook. E-mail Jill: