By Wes Annac, Openhearted Rebellion
In high school, my favorite show was Scrubs. My best friend showed it to me, as he was obsessed and he insisted it was hilarious. Since it was a show about doctors (yawn), I didn’t believe him until I saw it for myself. Boy, was I wrong! Even when watching back over it as an adult, I find it to be supremely funny and well-written. It’s filled to the brim with innuendo, but well-written, nonetheless.
In addition to being funnier than it had any right to be, Scrubs was unafraid to tackle serious issues. The way this show could make you laugh and cry in the same episode; it’s hard for modern shows to duplicate, try as they might. It’s like if This Is Us had a funny edge, or if Pixar movies were allowed to contain dirty jokes. Scrubs achieved a level of hilarity and genuine emotion that made it clear the writers had heart as well as a sense of humor.
Like a lot of shows in its era, Scrubs had a musical episode.
My Musical is an episode about a patient who loses consciousness and wakes up to find that everyone around her now randomly bursts into song. She is of course hallucinating. She watches her doctors – the main characters – go about their day, dealing with their personal issues and their squabbles with each other as they try to diagnose her. Most of what she witnesses is in the form of song.
In typical Scrubs fashion, the songs are mostly filled with scatological humor and silly jokes about “guy love” between two male characters who are really, really, really good friends – but aren’t gay. Clearly, the writers were having some fun with an episode that was likely mandated by the network. They have to make the episode whether or not they want to; they might as well write the funniest half-hour musical they can.
Also typical for Scrubs is that the episode starts out funny, stays funny until the latter half of the second act, then becomes quite serious. We find out that the woman’s diagnosis is grim, and it could prove fatal if surgery does not fix the problem.
Interrupting an upbeat song about two of the main characters being “friends forever”, the woman expresses that she is scared for her fate. This is when the tone shifts from silly to somber. In the form of a sad and beautifully sung number, she asks what will happen to her. In response, her doctors sing that they are here for her, and she will be okay.
This plot must have been easy to write for a show whose typical main conflict is whether a patient will live or die. In my opinion, Scrubs did this kind of drama far better than Grey’s Anatomy – a show with little to no humor, and drama that feels like a carbon copy of the doctor-centric shows that preceded it. Still, this musical episode of Scrubs stuck with me. Its ending never fails to make me emotional.
A couple days ago, I was driving home from work when I stopped to pick up some pizza for my wife and son. As I turned my wheel to pull into the parking spot at the restaurant, I heard a ‘thung!’ noise from my front driver’s side tire. On the drive home, I continued to hear it when I would turn the wheel at a low speed. When I got back to my house, I fiddled around in the area surrounding the tire to try to figure out the problem, even though I know nothing about cars. I heard something fall to the ground, so I picked it up. It was a piece that had busted off of a metal spring.
The next morning, I carefully drove to the auto shop across the street from my house with the ‘thung!’ noise continuing to worry me. A couple hours later, I found out that the struts in my car would need replaced. It is a $600 fix.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have six hundred dollars. I’m a struggling blogger with a part-time day job. It’s a miracle that I own a home and a car. If I had that kind of money, it would be from a tax return, sitting in a rainy-day fund for situations like this. As you can probably guess, I haven’t received my tax return yet.
All day, my wife and I were emotional as hell while we scrambled to figure out what to do. Should we bother with the repair or just look for another used vehicle, given that mine is on its second transmission and rapidly approaching 200K miles? Do I take the bus to work? Do I give up and look for a job within walking distance?
We were truly screwed. Up shit’s creek without a paddle. Some other saying that describes the depressing situation we were in.
The strange thing is that as this was happening, all that kept running through my stressed-out brain was that damn song at the end of the Scrubs episode. We hadn’t watched it recently, nor had I been thinking about it at all. It just showed up in my brain and kept repeating to me:
As it was running through my head, I didn’t believe a word of it. I wanted to, but I couldn’t when we were in such a desperate situation with no way out. I had to tell myself there must be some reason those words were randomly stuck in my head. All I could do was hope that something good would happen, even though I didn’t think it would.
In the hours that followed, two incredible things happened – both dependent upon the generosity of the people in my life. First, one set of relatives was willing to let me take their car to work until mine was fixed or we found another vehicle. Then, another set of relatives offered to loan us the money for the repair!
When I tell you that I did not expect either of those things to happen, or for those lyrics to come true; you can imagine how pleasantly surprised and emotional the whole ordeal left me. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. The highs and lows we experienced that day are hard to describe, but in the end, the song that wouldn’t leave my head was indeed correct.
That day, for the first time in a while, I was scared. I’d become too comfortable with where I am in life, forgetting that my world is built atop a fragile house of cards. I was reminded of how unstable this can all be, and by consequence, how grateful I should be to make it through another day.
One strong gust, and this can all come crashing down. No more waiting to write until I feel like it; I must write every day. Gone is the sense of stability that lets me skip my disciplines when I should be building a future in which a $600 bill does not shake the foundation upon which I live and work.
Although frightening, it is also humbling. It reminds me of how fortunate I am to not be living in much worse conditions. I have a roof over my head, people who care, protein and carbohydrate-rich foods to fuel me; and for a little while longer, I’ll have a vehicle to get back and forth. I am so fortunate.
If you’re slogging through a situation in your life that feels hopeless, please don’t give in. If it helps, try to remember what that silly doctor show reminded me: