The Joy of Life: The big mouth with a big heart

My wife, Sarah, grew up in Boulder, Colorado. Watching TV caricatures of New Yorkers, she worried that people on the East Coast might be mean as she packed her bags to head this way for college.

I was shocked when she first told me this. But it’s hard to argue after a survey of shows like “The King of Queens,” “Friends,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Seinfeld.”

Whether it’s the “Friends” character, Chandler Bing, or any character from “Seinfeld,” it only takes a minute to catch the abrasive sheen.

While Boulderites in berets may be better at wearing their hearts on their sleeves, I posit that East Coasters are, in fact, just as mushy.

I made this case to Sarah most recently while watching the traditional New Year’s Day “The Honeymooners” marathon on channel 11.

Who could make my case better than Ralph Kramden–the obnoxious loud mouth who always threatened to “BANG—ZOOM!” punch his wife to the moon?

The Brooklyn bus driver was not suave in his dealings with family and friends. Insults flew from his mouth faster than compliments as his schemes to strike it rich fell apart around him.

But that was because he had no time to mince words. He was going somewhere. Ralph puffed up with pride every time he saw a chance to provide a better life for his wife, Alice.

He may not of been the brightest bulb. And, sure, he came across as a chauvinistic bull in a china shop. But viewers could also count on revelations of love and friendship.

In fact, you could make the case that—just like the Boulderite caricature—Ralph was too much of a softy. Every episode wound down with a humbled Ralph quivering as he professed his unworthiness for those around him.

No one could have a better friend than his buddy, Norton, he’d declare. No wife could be greater than Alice.

He may have been a blowhard at the start of each big adventure. But his big mouth was also a symptom of his big heart.

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About genemyers

Gene Myers is a New Jersey poet, music journalist and columnist who learned to walk twice. His weekly column is called The Joy of Life. He was awarded first place in Arts and Entertainment Writing by The New Jersey Press Association.
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