There are a few things that have become routine after each round of chemo–I sleep off the post-treatment nausea for two days, I eat buckets of Jacqui’s vegetarian Matzo ball soup to build up my strength and my inner culinary Jew, and in between bowls of soup when I am too tired to do anything, I pass the time watching a season or two of a favorite old TV show.
I’ve watched Quincy save the day with his genius pathologist skills, I’ve laughed at Lt. Parmenter and his fellow soldiers guarding Fort Courage in the goofball comedy F-Troop, I’ve been to Cicely, Alaska with Dr. Joel Fleishman and his quirky pals in Northern Exposure, and I’ve even traveled through time “setting right what once went wrong” with Dr. Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap. But best of all, I’ve watched almost three seasons of one of the greatest television shows ever… Tom Selleck as Magnum, P.I. (DVDs provided by the generous and healing hand of old family friend Steve Kandel. Thanks, Steve!).
Now you might be shocked to learn that Magnum is one of my favorite shows. Right now, in fact, you are probably looking up the side effects of chemo-brain on the internet, convinced that the toxic chemicals flowing through me must do much more than affect memory, they must alter that little know region of the brain known as the N.R.R. (Neilsen’s Rating Region), a tiny television shaped area of our onboard computer that can judge one good television show from another.
But if the ingredients of good television are a pinch of entertainment, combined with a smidgen of good writing, a taste of bikini clad women on Hawaiian beaches, and a red Ferrari thrown in for good measure, then Magnum P.I. rarely missed its mark. In an age where television seems to be either pre-packaged reality show garbage (American Idol, etc.) or dark and manipulative serial thriller junk (Lost), Magnum seems almost quaint and sweet by comparison. Magnum might have been a mystery and detective series, but it was really about friendship, the darkness of war, coping with one’s sometimes difficult past and being hopeful about the future, and always about laughing at one’s self and with and at one’s friends. Yea, the plots could occasionally be as overstated as Magnum’s overexposed chest hair, but the show was almost always fun, and even when it did take itself seriously it was never haughty (how could a show with the lead character sporting a thick goofy moustache who wore ridiculously short shorts be haughty?).
So I thank you Magnum, Higgins, T.C., and Rick for getting me through another round of chemo. Your wit, silliness, and fine private investigatory skills have made the chemo go down smoothly and the healing almost complete.