The Only Normal Family in America

The Only Normal Family in America

The Only Normal Family in America

And speaking of creative efforts…I wrote this little ditty in 1996, and have sent it to my friends and colleagues as an annual December ritual ever since. It’s funny to see how well it holds up – the talk show hosts and other TV references have changed, but the basic points still apply. And that includes my sincere wishes for happy holidaze to all, and a brighter New Year to come!

                          The Only Normal Family in America

                                        Judith Schlesinger 


                Twas the latest convention and all through the house

                Not a Skinner box was stirring

                With chimp, rat or mouse.


                The speaker that day had the focus of all

                The seekers of truth who had crowded the hall.

                Their coffee and danish consumed straight away,

                They sat back to hear what the guy had to say.


                "I've found it!" he shouted (a tad too informal),

                "The find of the century: a family that's normal!"


                The crowd gave a gasp, their nametags aflutter,

                And some of them rudely proceeded to mutter:

                "His data are shabby, his judgments too hasty,

                And where is the rest of the apricot pastry?"


                On Oprah, on Phil, perhaps Sally Jesse!

                The speaker was dreaming of stardom and yes, he

                Forgot for a moment the challenge ahead:

                To prove there was something to what he'd just said.


                "What's normal?" they shouted. "You first must define!"

                "The criteria? Well... they're exclusively mine.

                From Freud and his colleagues to DSM-IV,

                There've never been standards for normal before."


                "Then how do you know that your family is it?"

                This colleague was pitching a bit of a fit;

                His rage was so strong that he shook in his belly

                And had to calm down with a bagel and jelly.


                On Montel, on Regis and yes, Kathy Lee,

                The bigger the hooplah, the bigger the fee

                The crowd had turned nasty before he'd begun

                On David and Jay, yet!  Hooboy, this was fun!


                "This family's intact, with both father and mother,

                And it actually seems that they love one another..

                No miserable marriage, no substance abuse,

                No teenage rebellion or running round loose.."


                "And no one's in treatment?" He nodded, and paused.

                "Then how can you name this condition and cause?"

                "I feel it!  I know it may seem out of line,

                But these folks are normal: they're happy, they're FINE!"


                "You can't use your feelings - that isn't enough!"

                "And where are your data?" They huffed and they puffed. 

                "I know this is different," he said with a sigh,

                "But give me this hearing, and I'll prove that I..."


                "No hearing!  No mercy!  You've nothing to feed us -

                We don't want the public to think they don't need us!"

                The crowd started chanting, as if they'd rehearsed:

                "Without recognition, it's not reimbursed!"


                "Don't worry!" he told them,  "I gave it a name,

                To make sure they honor your managed care claim.

                It's the "Brady-Bunch & John-Boy-Walton Disease!"

                The crowd settled back now: contented, appeased.


                Til some little intern piped up from his seat:

                "If the family is normal, than what do we treat?"

                The speaker smiled: "Sonny, of course you're naive -

                But the point here is just to make people believe


                "...we know what their lives mean far better than they;

                We dictate what's crazy, and what is okay.

                The key is to keep on expanding our range

                Til everything human appears somewhat strange."


                They nodded, they murmured; he'd won them at last.

                And soon came the movie (he handpicked the cast).

                He said, as his income just soared out of sight:

                "Merry Christmas to all - As you see, I was right!" 


                                                      c 1996 Judith Schlesinger 

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