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Cast VOTES in COMMENTS for DISGRACED CELEBRITY OF 2011…

Caitlin McCarthy received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Emerson College. An award-winning screenwriter at international film festivals and labs, Caitlin has two feature films in development: “Resistance” with Populus Pictures; and “Wonder Drug” with actor/producer Alysia Reiner. In addition to screenwriting, Caitlin serves as an English teacher at an inner-city public high school.

A SOAPY LIFE by Caitlin McCarthy

The Great Aunts

 In 1974, when I was 4-years-old, the TV became my babysitter. Now don’t worry – I wasn’t planted in front of a TV all by myself.  My great-aunts were right there with me, watching the entire CBS soap opera line-up. My parents both worked during the day, so my friend Michael’s mother would drop me off at my great-aunts’ house after nursery school. I had quite the set-up: a little chair before a marble coffee table, where I ate lunch and watched TV at the same time. My great-aunts surrounded me like guardian angels on the couch. Even Bijoux, my Great-Aunt Lulu’s beloved French Poodle, had a perch – the La-Z-Boy recliner – where he watched the soaps with his “missy.”

First Communion: Caitlin and sister Erin, 1974

The afternoon would kick off with “The Young and the Restless” and end with “Guiding Light,” which my great-aunts (born in the late 1800s) had started following when it was just a radio show in 1937. When the music for GL’s end credits started, my great-aunts would turn off the TV, put on an Engelbert Humperdinck record, and then discuss the various shows at length.

This was my first master class in storytelling. I learned about character motivation, storyline development, plot critique – you name it. No wonder I became a writer later in life.  I was surrounded by characters, both on and off screen.

Great-Aunt Lulu was, by far, the biggest character in my family. Of Acadian descent, she dated a fellow French-American named Napoleon for 25 years. Uncle Nap died 10 years after they married.

Great Aunt Lulu with Bijoux

Childless, Great-Aunt Lulu treated her French Poodle Bijoux like a baby, sewing outfits for him and giving him a rhinestone collar long before bling came about. She refused to feed him dog food or let him eat of a bowl. Instead, she would place him on the La-Z-Boy recliner, tie a bib around his neck, and feed him a specially prepared “gruel” with a spoon. The poor thing hated having the spoon shoved into his mouth. But he developed a case of Stockholm Syndrome and only had eyes for his missy. He growled and snapped at everyone else, especially if they dared to sit on *his* La-Z-Boy.

The real-life characters weren’t limited to my great-aunts.  My neighborhood in Worcester, Massachusetts was filled with them. (more…)

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