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Traumafessions :: Professor Von Whiskersen on Happy Days & Tornadoes

August 25th, 2008 by aunt john · 10 Comments

Two of your previous Traumafessions have conspired to remind me of a fleeting terror of my own.

Sean of the Dead’s HAPPY DAYS story was terrifying to me as well.  As Mickster points out in her comment, I DID hide behind the couch every time I thought that headless figure in the rocker was about to appear.

Also I think Kurt tapped my brain with his memories of ancient weather alerts.  The 1974 Superoutbreak that Mickster mentions took the roof off of several houses in my neighborhood.  I wasn’t living there yet, but I saw pictures of the damage as a child.  Then the 1989 F4 Tornado touched down about a mile from my house.

But there was ANOTHER HAPPY DAYS episode (season 6, “Fearless Malph”) that stuck in my brain like an echo ever since.

That episode involved Ralph Malph’s pantophobia and a professor who hypnotized him into being (you guessed it) fearless.  Richie and Malph (and possibly Potsie) visited the Professor because Richie was working on some dumb article for his school newspaper.  While they were there, the Professor’s lab rats began to act all jittery, which Prof reads as a prediction for a Tornado to hit Milwaukee at PRECISELY 6:22 that evening.  What the hell??? How has the science of meteorology regressed so much since the ‘50s?  Anyway, this is the point when Malph is hypnotized, everyone runs off to Arnold’s to warn the gang of their impending doom, and then the tornado strikes and mayhem reigns supreme.  Everyone dies, the end.

But what really got me about this episode and what really made it resonate in my mind for all these years is that I watched it at home on a sunny summer day.  The kind of summer day that anyone from Alabama knows will turn black as pitch not long after lunch and then rain destruction down on you while you huddle in the bathtub or under the stairs.  And what do you know, not 30 minutes before this very episode of HAPPY DAYS aired, the weather alert sirens went off, the radio upstairs and the one on the T.V.  I’m pretty sure it was just a warning, because my father remained in his office upstairs working. However, seeing the names of surrounding counties scrolling at the bottom of the screen, and seeing the sky turn black outside my window while the kids from Milwaukee are pelted by debris on screen…well… I wasn’t familiar with the term “surreal” at the time, but I knew what it felt like.

I’m not scared of tornadoes like I was as a child anymore, and I’ll never think of them the same way.  They have passed beyond reality for me, into the realm of myth.  Now, a tornado watch/warning is something that piques my interest, like a good ghost story or stumbling across an old T.V. show on cable late at night.  I can’t not watch.

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Tags: Traumafessions

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 joshacid37No Gravatar // Aug 25, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    This one reminds me of how when I was a kid I was scared of the video for Starship’s “Sara” (and subsequently, to this day, the song itself because of its association with that video).  The tornado stuff was by far the most apocalyptic imagery I’d ever been exposed to.  At least until I started watching “Woops!”

  • 2 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Aug 25, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Adding to Starship’s Sara’s trauma-power is the fact that the song appears to be about that crazy cradle rocking nannie.

  • 3 FoxNo Gravatar // Aug 25, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Dude… you wanna get traumatic??  What about that bubblegum card of Fonzie about to give his thumb a BJ?!? 
    There’s also something a little traumatic about growing up thinking The Fonz is the epitome of cool and then seeing him work at a morgue in Night Shift

    Also, I think Night Shift was the first time I was introduced to prostitutes… but my dad wouldn’t really explain them too me.  I think he just told me they girls that dressed funny.

    Man… so much good catharsis comes from a visit to Kindertrauma!

  • 4 micksterNo Gravatar // Aug 25, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    It is so funny that this was posted today since our area has been under tornado and flash flood watches all day. Great timing! @Fox- I agree that the bubblegum card of the Fonz is a bit disturbing.

  • 5 IrvingWallaceNo Gravatar // Aug 26, 2008 at 9:28 am

    The real life tv ad for the Fonz’s “The Honk” is also a little strange, and completely hilarious. 

  • 6 Amanda By NightNo Gravatar // Aug 26, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    The episode of Happy Days that did me in was the one where Fonzie has to ride his bike over sharks. Wow! It’s how they got that term “Jump the Shark,” right? My obsession with sharks was heavy even then and this episode was a MUST SEE!

    And for the record, Fonzie was ridiculously hawt. I admit it!

  • 7 Amanda By NightNo Gravatar // Aug 26, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Also, I love that there is a guy here who posts under the monkier Josh Acid. I’ll feel stupid if I’m wrong, but isn’t that a tribute to Pledge Night?

  • 8 joshacid37No Gravatar // Aug 27, 2008 at 1:07 am

    Try not to actually feel stupid, but in my case it’s a reference to a Saturday Night Live sketch from about 20 years ago where Mel Gibson played a sheriff in the Old West who threw bottles of acid on people instead of using a gun.  But now I’m intrigued…Pledge Night, you say?  Must check it out.  I haven’t watched Graduation Day or The House On Sorority Row in a while…Triple-feature coming up!

  • 9 FoxNo Gravatar // Aug 27, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    OMG, Amanda!  Good call on The Fonze jumping the sharks in Happy Days!  I remembering feeling really nervous about him possibly dying.  And I think I was still in that age where I wasn’t quite sure if TV was real or not.

    Check THIS out: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41RH46XKD6L._SL500_AA280_.jpg

  • 10 Amanda By NightNo Gravatar // Sep 1, 2008 at 2:09 am

    HA! Fox, that is AWESOME!

    I TOTALLY remember Josh Acid. I think Pledge Night was something like Sam Acid. Yeah, I feel dumb, but then again, I ususally do! Josh Acid was pretty freakin’ hilarious too. How could I have forgotten?!?

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