I almost never watch TV, not even at the gym, unless it's music videos. I love VH1's top video countdown. It keeps me current. TV is mostly depressing, an opportunity, I guess, to feel better about the more pathetic aspects of our own lives because those we watch seem even more pathetic. Books are the same, but, somehow different, more thoughtful just by their very nature.
Yesterday, though, I was not feeling it on the treadmill. Running has, sadly, become a chore indoors after a mere 10 or 15 minutes, a problem since I hate running in the cold, have ever since I was a kid playing soccer. Even in Arizona, my ears froze. I remember it all too well to do it willingly, for sport.
The video countdown over, I was forced to channel flip. After a moment I hit pay dirt: old episodes of The Family Feud. I hadn't seen it in years. As I watched, buoyed enough by the find to increase my pace to 7 mph, the host, Richard Dawson, walked up to one of the female contestants and leaned in sexily to give her a full-on-the-mouth kiss.
As I watched, open-mouthed, laughing, I remembered watching the semi-drunk-sounding Englishman plant those warm, wet kisses on every woman who came on the show. It had been a while. It took me by surprise. I started laughing, loudly. I looked around, but most everyone was plugged in, and no one at the Y cares anyway.
Wow, what a kisser. His whole body language as he leaned in toward the ladies, the way they responded as if they hadn't seen him do it to a million women before them, as if they were special. It was a spectacle to behold. I watched further just to see it again. The next woman, with the family across the way, got an equally juicy kiss, puckering up just like her opponent. Awesome. So, so cool. TV just isn't like that anymore. Reality shows are far too disgusting and other shows, mostly, far too canned. Can you imagine Meredith Viera planting one on any of the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire contestants? Wouldn't happen, which is a big reason these shows leave me cold. There is no warmth, just the promise of money. Mr. Dawson was unusual, though, even for his day, even for the mid-70s. He was amazingly charismatic, seemingly helped along by some or another substance.
As I left the gym, still laughing at the memory of his full, near open-mouth kisses to all the ladies, I got curious about Mr. Dawson. Was he still alive? What was his real life like, after Hogan's Heroes, after Family Feud?
Apparently, a google search unearthed, he is alive, in his late 70s. Among his listed nicknames are The Kissing Bandit and Kissyface. He was always very popular with the ladies. In 1981, Mr. Dawson kissed a contestant, 27-year-old Gretchen Dawson, and the sparks must have flown more than usual. The two became an item, marrying a decade later. This girl obviously knew the power of her man's kiss. During the second run of Family Feud, she demanded that he stop the full-mouth kisses, in fact, that he stop kissing altogether. Maybe that's why the show wasn't as popular!
I am always in awe at the dynamism of people, of the spark that makes them stars. I have, in my time in New York, seen in person the awesome energy of Sarah Jessica Parker, a couple times, bounding out of her trailer while filming Sex in the City, bounding in past me into an antique store. I've seen George Clooney in full charm mode, Chris Noth, larger than life, sweeping into a crowded cafe then out again, David Sedaris, playing it sarcastically straight. These folks are amazingly able to comport themselves comfortably even in the face of celebrity, not at all an easy task. It takes a strong, strong soul. Gold stars to all these guys, gold star, especially, to Richard Dawson. Awesome work. Simply by watching such people, listening to them, we have to smile, to laugh. That is no small thing.