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It’s obviously the best show on television, and I think we all want to live in Stuckeyville.

Everything I Need to Know About Life I Learned From Watching Ed
Channel Surfer by Bob Sassone

Also by Bob Sassone:
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Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Watching Ed
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Question: What’s the best show on television? Yeah, you’re probably going to say The West Wing or maybe The Sopranos. Or if you are heavily medicated or your cable box is broken and stuck on CBS, you might say Survivor . But you are so, so wrong.
     Let me introduce you to Ed Stevens. You see, Ed was a big New York City lawyer who had it all: the great salary, the pretty wife, the nice apartment and the fast track to a great career. But then he misplaced a comma in a 500-page contract and cost the firm $1.6 million. Bye bye, great job and salary. Then he went home to tell his wife, but she was sleeping with the mailman (or, as she put it, “he’s not the mailman, he’s a mailman. He just happens to be one.”). Bye bye, wife. What would you do?
     Ed went back to his hometown, Stuckeyville, Ohio, to pursue the heart of the girl who hardly paid any attention to him in high school, reconnect to his roots and his best friends and get his life in order. And, oh yeah, he also bought a bowling alley.
     Now why does the review of a TV show come with such an opening? Why does the review of a TV show come with a title like “Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Watching Ed?Because it has struck a chord with me, and I figured I’d tell you what I have learned from watching this show every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

Maybe I should explain. For most of my life, I’ve tied the type of person I am into the career I’ve chosen — writing. As if being a writer could excuse all of my shortcomings. “Hey, I know I don’t make enough money to pay the bills or go out and do anything, and I know I don’t have a car, but hey, I’m a writer! I have to suffer for my art.” Or something like that.
     One of the running jokes about Ed (played with effortless charm and skill by Tom Cavanagh) is that many people, especially rival attorneys in the courtroom, refer to Ed as “the bowling alley lawyer.” As Ed says, “It suggests that I specialize in bowling alley-related cases. Not so. I own a bowling alley, and I am a lawyer. Two separate things.”
     I can’t tell you how much of an eye-opener this piece of dialogue was to me, even at age 35. While I’ve spent so many years writing, either freelance or on staff for several publications, I’ve often had to take other jobs to pay the bills (one of the realities of wanting to have a writing career). I’ve been incredibly scared of not only not finding enough writing work to pay those bills and have money for myself, but also that if I wasn’t writing full-time and had to take other jobs, that people wouldn’t call me a “writer.”
     Where the hell did this thinking come from? Actually, I know where it came from. Too many how-to-write books, too much focusing on my favorite writers who did make a living just from their writing, and writing so much that I sort of lost track of how the real world operates. As if some not having some full-time “title” could make me less of what I am. I mean, so I’m not a full-time writer. Big fucking deal. As if having a full-time or a part-time job would negate or lessen the actual writing that comes out of me. As if most writers don’t have other jobs anyway.
     Now, obviously, if you’re a dictator or a pimp, than, yeah, what you do is probably pretty representative of who you are. But you know what I mean.
                                                  c o n t i n u e . . .

© April 11, 2001 — Ironminds
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