I grew up with the “Golden Girls”, thinking how much fun it would be to have that type of camaraderie when I grew older. I loved to watch Dorothy mouthing her knowledge and wisdom; Sophia wise cracking the nuisances of life; Blanche focusing on her own beauty and age, modeling narcissism at its finest; and Rose telling her wild stories from Minnesota. Each character portrayed so much of life and the different personalities we see every day. So, as my days got longer and my yearn to laugh grew stronger, I returned to the “Golden Girls”. Now, I watch for the belly laughs and I recognize the social issues they tackled (which are basically the same social issues we tackle today). And, I have a deeper understanding of their characters, but none more than Rose.
Rose was actually a complex character with knowledge the viewer would never suspect she had the potential for. She had a heart of gold and yet was so competitive that you wanted her on your side if you wanted to win at a game or sport. Still, I shake my head when I hear the words come out of her mouth. Even though she shared her knowledge, and could fight a cause until the bitter end, she appeared stupid because of her understanding of language.
Rose had the ability to take every word the other girls said at face value. For instance, there is one scene where the girls discover that Rose has taken prescription pills for some 30 years, and they convince her to go for help. When she comes home from treatment, one of the girls say something like, “isn’t it great to get that monkey off your back?” Rose responds, “I’ve never had a monkey on my back.” Or, there is another scene where Blanche wants some extra money for an expensive beauty treatment and when Rose offers her a job for extra money, Blanche says she can just be paid “under the table”. Rose’s response is, “oh, sure, Dorothy tried that — I go under the table and then she never shows up.” Ya gotta laugh….
But, it’s really not that funny.
What I have found is there are many people who have this language problem. I was telling this story to my neighbor who works in the school system. We conversed about how she sees it in the school where she teaches at, saying that she is working with a boy who has this exact characteristic, and it causes problems. Of course it would cause problems because we have so many idioms, clichés and sayings that are simply understood from life experiences or explanations, but if not exposed to those idioms, clichés and sayings and they are not explained through words or examples, people would take them at “face value”, and would indeed think to go “under the table” instead of understanding it means to be paid “on the side”.
Once again, I am made aware not to “judge a book by its cover”. That school boy is probably not stupid, though I bet his classmates think he is by not understanding the words and what they mean. And that leads to being misunderstood which leads to being a problem child which leads to names and titles and stereotyping, and that leads to more problems in school and out of school and sometimes throughout life. Ah, the ways of the world…