One of my favorite shows to rewatch is The Goldbergs. I’m not sure what it is about this sitcom that gets me. I know that a lot of people out there will throw on Friends or The Office not necessarily to watch, but to have on a background noise. Especially during all this pandemic and people working from home.
The Goldbergs isn’t always my go-to background noise, but it’s one of those shows that I can turn on and enjoy without having to pay full attention to what’s happening on screen. And it would make sense that I would enjoy this show. I love the ’80s. I love the music of the ’80s. I love the random pop culture references from the ’80s. It’s just fun for me.
Recently, I caught an episode from the sixth season called “The Living Room: A 100% True Story.” I couldn’t help but identify with the Goldberg kids in this one…
In it, the audience is finally introduced to the Goldberg home’s Living Room, a room that has never been seen throughout the first five seasons. This is because the Living Room, for Beverly Goldberg, was a room that was for viewing only. No one was allowed to go into that room to touch any of the items on display or sit on any of the furniture.
My grandmother had a room like this when I was growing up. It was also referred to as a Living Room… which I always found odd because no one ever did any living in it. The Living Room was on the front side of the house and would be the first room you entered if you took an immediate left upon walking into the house. But that never happened.
As a kid, I remember walking by the Living Room countless times and it was always the same. The details escape me now, 30 years later, but it was always bright in there. Everything was white or as near white as it could possibly have been. The carpet was always perfectly vacuumed and it looked as though no foot had ever dared walk across that floor.
On the far end of the Living Room you could see the entry to the dining room*. The dining room, of course, was often used during family get togethers. Usually, that’s where the grown-ups sat and ate dinner. But that room was only ever accessed through the kitchen… not the Living Room.
Could you imagine someone carrying a plate of food or an open beverage through my grandmother’s pristine Living Room? I get nervous just thinking about it and I haven’t stepped foot in that old house since my grandparents moved around the turn of the millennium.
As kids, all of our time was spent in the family room, which is where you would find the television and the furniture that people were actually allowed to sit on. There was also a similar situation in their finished basement, where you could also find a pool table. For my money, the basement was a lot more fun than some stuffy old Living Room. Please don’t tell my grandmother I said that.
I will say, as I got older, I was allowed to spend some time in the Living Room. But, it was only under the watchful eye of my grandmother. See, there was this little piano in there and she had this old book full of Disney songs. My cousins, sister, and I loved to beg her to play some of the songs from that book. And the only place she could do that was in the Living Room.
I don’t remember ever sitting on the furniture in that room. I only remember sitting next to my grandmother on that piano bench while she played the theme from Winnie the Pooh or “Bella Notte” from Lady and the Tramp.
As I said above, my grandparents moved from that house around the year 2000 or so, deciding it was finally time to downsize. After all, it was just the two of them and that house had three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, a full finished basement, and an enormous backyard with a fairly steep hill that my grandfather had to mow all summer.
Once they moved closer to town to something a little more manageable, the concept of the Living Room just went away. The Living Room still exists, but it’s there as you walk into the house and it’s just where everyone hangs out until it’s time to eat. No longer is the Living Room this forbidden thing. You can sit on the sofa. You can sit on the chairs. You can walk on the carpet.
Still… no food or drink, please and thank you.
*Why would I capitalize Living Room but not dining room? I’m trying to show a little respect for the Living Room, okay?