A Bob Newhart Life§

writer: russell j.t. dyer; posted: April 2, 2006; revised: August 15, 2017; readers in past month: 1546

Scene from The Bob Newhart Show

When I was a kid, there was a television comedy show called, The Bob Newhart Show. It named for the comedian and lead actor of the show. Newhart played a psychologist. His wife in the show, Emily (played by Suzanne Pleshette) was a school teacher. They were very modern — especially compared to the factory town I lived in in Massachusetts when it first aired in the 1970’s. They lived in a tall apartment building in Chicago; we lived in a singel family house. There was a sexual attraction between them, but they had no children and had no interest in having children. Almost all couples I knew at the time were not outwardly sexual and either had several children or planned on having them. Bob and Emily discussed intellectual and emotional issues. Considering the times, they treated each other as equals; they were the result of the feminist movement which was well under way. I was only twelve years or so old at the time. I thought their life style, the life style of the characters of the Bob Newhart Show, to be idylic and I admired them. In some ways, I have always wanted to be like them.

Living here in Milano, in a tall apartment building — albeit it an old one — I am beginning to feel as though I am finally living the life of a Bob Newhart character — not one of his nutty patients, but like him and Emily. In recent weeks I’ve acquired some friends who live in Newhart like apartment buildings built in the 1970’s. We do things such as go to modern plays, meet for drinks at popular bars, discuss culture, politics, life, and all sorts of things that the blue collar workers of my childhood never discussed. We do things like have a scrabble party in English and Italian, go to photography shows, and take the subway and street cars wherever we go. We plan trips to interesting places and eat strange foods.

It’s nice and comfortalbe living like this. It’s as I had hoped and expected it to be. I like this life. I feel a relief in finally achieving it, in finally having it. I know I will be able to keep it now that I have it, because it feels natural to me.