The Wonder Years (season 5)

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The Wonder Years (1988–93) was American television series that was aired on ABC. The series depicts the social and family life of an adolescent boy growing up in a suburban middle-class family, and takes place from 1968–1973.

The Lake [5.1][edit]

Narrator: Lake Wennahatchee... For one week that summer of nineteen-seventy-one, my family and Paul Pfeiffer's rented side-by-side cabins along its placid shores. It was a place to get away from the aggravations of modern suburban life... escape from the petty everyday competition. The kind of paradise that made you wish you could stay forever.

Narrator: I wanted to stay there, in that night... more than anything I wanted before. But I knew I couldn't. I was fifteen. I slept under a roof my father owned, in a bed my father bought. Nothing was mine, except my heart, and my fears. And my growing knowledge that not every road was going to lead home anymore.

Day One [5.2][edit]

Mr. Botner: Now, Botner's rules for study hall. Numero uno -
Kevin: Ah man.
Mr. Botner: Arnold! Do you have a problem?
Kevin: No....I....ah
Mr. Botner: Oh come on, Arnold. I'm sure whatever you have to say is very important. After all, we can wait here as long as it takes. Even if it's all evening.

Narrator: That first week of high school, as I watched our class band together. I realized something about these strangers I'd just met. Strangers I hardly knew. Strangers who were just like me. We were all sharing the same feelings. The same fears, the same loneliness. We were just starting out, and there was only one direction to go. So we went - together.

The Hardware Store [5.3][edit]

Narrator: They say you never forget your first job. I know I remember mine. Harris' hardware store. Down the hill from where I lived. The year I started tenth grade. It was the kind of place you don't see much of anymore. Filled to the rafters with brackets, and bolts, and old screens. Ya know, stuff on the cutting-edge of obsolescence. It started as a summer job... but once school began, Mr. Harris cut back my hours so I could keep working. With the allowance Dad was paying me, I had no choice.

Narrator: I felt him watching me. And somehow, I knew what he was thinking. How much I'd learned, how much he taught me. But I was fifteen. I lived in a world that was new and alive, and exciting. And everything here was old. Maybe it was stupid. That's also part of being fifteen. I traded in my tie for a stupid hat and a plastic name tag at the mall. When I left a month later - no one cared. But every time I pick up a flat-head screw, I think of old man Harris, and how those cowbells clanged as I walked out that door. And even though I can't say exactly what I gained... I know I can't measure... what I lost.

Frank and Denise [5.4][edit]

Narrator: Poets say love comes and goes in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, in high school, it goes more than it comes.....And then from somewhere, I don't know - it just came to me.
Kevin: Love is a river, flowing where we know not. The wound is deep, yet the river is wide.
Denise: That's beautiful.

Narrator: Maybe it was a dream. Or maybe I was crazy. Maybe Denise "The Grease" only knew one way to kiss. Or maybe, the most voluptuous girl at McKinley high, had just fallen for Kevin Arnold.

Full Moon Rising [5.5][edit]

Narrator: Adolescence is kind of a screwy time. A time of hope and confusion. It's a race to find out who you really are. But if there's one thing teenager knows, it's this. Stated simply... if you want to be a star... you gotta have a car. Cars - the ultimate dream of every red-blooded American kid. Cars meant freedom, status, maturity. If you were old enough to drive, the world was your oyster. But, if you weren't... your world was more of a sardine - to really stretch an analogy. Without wheels, life was one indignity after another. A series of humiliations. And faced with these constant embarrassments... you look for any small way to elevate your status. The trick was to keep your friends jealous. Fact was, we all knew the bottom-line. To be truly free and functioning high-school men, what we needed... was a car.

Narrator: We didn't really accomplish anything that night. Nothing of any real importance, anyway. But through the high school years that lay ahead... there would be a thousand other nights, just like that one. Stupid, ridiculous... and glorious.

Triangle [5.6][edit]

Narrator: As I sat there, listening to my brother's pain... and the lies he told to cover it... I didn't know what to do. I knew I wanted to be with Sandy. Holding her in my arms - dancing with her. But in the end... I stayed with my brother... because, after all... he was... my brother.

Narrator: The nineteen-seventies were filled with improbable events. Strange occurrences. Unexpected happenings. But nothing was quite as improbable... as my brother and his new girlfriend. It defied explanation. Sandy Tyler was a seemingly-intelligent eleventh-grader. She was smart. She was pretty. Seemed as good an explanation as any. It was amazing. By some fantastic stroke of cosmic luck, my brother had found paradise. A girl with charm. A girl with style. A girl... who used her silverware.

Soccer [5.7][edit]

Narrator: There's one in every high school in America - the trophy case. Filled with winged statues, and silver-plated victory cups... all monuments to the winning spirit. To team play. To greatness on the field. Not just anyone could get inside that case. You had to be a winner. You had to have determination. You had to have guts. And most importantly... You had to make the cut. That fall of my sophomore year, one thing was clear. No matter how hard I tried... the wide world of sports wasn't wide enough to include me. Face it. I was five-foot-four, and a hundred-and-ten pounds. What team could I play on?

Narrator: That afternoon, we gave it all we had. We threw ourselves into it. We did our dead-level best. Our dead-level best... stunk. Pretty soon our problem was clear. It was our goalie's fault. But by halftime... we'd run out of scapegoats. When I got back on that field, I was mad. I'd take these guys on myself, if I had to. When that whistle blew... we actually got possession of the ball. And what's more amazing... we actually completed a pass. It was our finest hour. Unfortunately... we'd kicked the ball into the wrong net. We completely fell apart. It was like "Lord of the Flies". And that's when it happened. Pops was heading towards us to say it was over. That we had no hope of winning. That it was time to hang it up. I don't know what it was that touched him. Maybe it was the way we stuck together. Maybe it was the way we were tearing apart. But in that brief instant... Pops McIntyre became a coach again. And we were finally... a team. Sure, we lost that day. But it was a glorious defeat. After all, all over America, there were teams like ours. Teams that marched bravely into slaughter. Teams that went oh-and-fifteen, and kept on losing. And kept on trying. Not for the league titles... or the silver-plated victory cups. But just for the joy of playing. Together. The thing is... I'll never forget those guys. Even if they were dorks.

Dinner Out [5.8][edit]

Narrator: My dad was always a sucker for birthdays. Every year, he loved the ritual. The attention. The cake. Heck, we all loved the cake. But most of all, Dad loved our gifts. No matter what we gave him... it was his moment of glory. His time in the sun. His chance... to be king for a day. Unfortunately by birthday-time, nineteen-seventy-one... the king wasn't looking so... kingly. Maybe it was because he was about to turn forty-three in a week. Maybe it was the day-to-day irritations. Maybe it was something else. Face it. For the past six months, ever since he'd found out my sister was co-habitating without benefit of clergy... Dad had become kinda... monosyllabic.

Narrator: That night I sat and looked at old photos of my dad. The things he'd done. His life and times. Maybe I was searching for some way to make things better. It wasn't up to me to set this right. [Kevin's parents are talking in the background] I couldn't hear exactly what they said, but watching them I finally knew what my father needed for his birthday. Not a funny tie or a forty-seven dollar meal or even a ratchet set. What he needed was to know deep down that she remembered what he remembered; feel even for that briefest moment like king for a day.

Christmas Party [5.9][edit]

Narrator: Every year when I was a kid, my parents threw a Christmas party. Everybody in the neighborhood came. Dad played the "big cheese"... Mom played "Donna Reed"... and a really stupid time was had by all. It was a time when hopes were high. When the neighborhood was young. It was fun, before fun got so... complicated. Before life got so... simple.

Narrator: And I guess that's when I understood. For Mom and Dad, the party hadn't been a disaster. For as much as things were changing all around them... what Jack and Norma had - what drew people to their house every Christmas for sixteen years... was still the same. The thing they started out with. The one they'd never lose. My parents never did throw another Christmas bash. And that was OK - I guess. But I still think about those parties. What they stood for. A time before TV dinners and two-car families. And grass was green and we were young... and those nights when I'd lie awake in my bed... watching the light dance under my door. And listening... for my father's laugh.

Pfeiffer's Choice [5.10][edit]

Narrator: Whenever I look back on growing up in the suburbs, there's one thing I remember most clearly. Our neighbors, the Pfeiffer's... were always there. But we were more than just neighbors. We were like one big happy family. And at the heart of it all... were our dads. The men who set the tone. My dad, the athlete... and Paul's dad, the optometrist. Under their watchful eyes... our families grew, and prospered. One for all, and all for one. Until, that is, things started to change.

Narrator: The thing is, I'd been so busy tearing down my own dad... I guess I'd forgotten Paul had one to tear down, too. I wanted to tell 'em that he had nothing to fear. That any man who could produce a son like Paul... was a giant in my book. Even if his beach was under water. At the end of that semester, Paul left his prep school, and came to McKinley with me. In a way I think he was happy about it. I know I was. As for the Arnold's and Pfeiffer's... we patched things up. After all, some things are more lasting than real estate. And Mr. Pfeiffer? Think of it this way - nothing ventured, nothing gained. Besides, you never knew when the tide might go out.

Road Test [5.11][edit]

Narrator: Every culture has its own rites of passage. Ways of marking that leap from childhood... to manhood. Complex rituals... weird dances... acts of courage and survival. It's a tradition as old as civilization. Or... as recent as crabgrass. Fact! In the suburbs... a boy's first steps towards manhood start behind a lawnmower. Still, for me, at sixteen, lawn care had given way to something much, much, more important. The driver's license. The thing that separates the boys... from the men. And so on and so forth. But the truth was, by the spring of tenth grade, it was time to put the mower in mothballs. Forget the crabgrass. Make the jump from two cylinders... to real horsepower.

Narrator: The funny thing is, for a second I actually thought about running for my life. But somehow I guess I knew. I just couldn't run anymore. It was time to face the truth. And maybe in that moment... I learned something. About being a man. And I learned it... from the guy who wrote the book. That night my dad taught me a lot. How to parallel park. Why you put away the lawnmower. And, in some small way, what it takes to grow up. That Monday, he took the afternoon off, and we went and got my license. He was so proud. Then, he took it away...and grounded me for a month.

Grandpa's Car [5.12][edit]

Narrator: When I was a kid, anytime I needed a lift... there was my grandfather. The guy was always good for a ride. Sure, he was as old as the hills... but to me... Gramps was Hercules in bi-focals. Superman in suspenders. He was ageless... timeless... one man in a million. You could always count on him. Not that everyone shared my view. It was kind of a ritual around our house. Gramps visited, Mom cooked, Dad groused... and I... I borrowed the keys to the car.

Narrator: Some gifts are simple. Some come at a price. Some you buy for a buck. And last you a lifetime. I guess everybody remembers their first car. I know I remember mine. Not because it was my first car... but because it was my grandfather's last.

Kodachrome [5.13][edit]

Narrator: It seemed like my high school teachers came in every conceivable shape... size and style. There were the hopelessly confused... the terminally repetitious... the insufferably boring. But of all the teachers I ever had... I only ever had one...who was... a natural. Miss Shaw taught English 2-A. She was a year out of graduate school... and there was something about her that was... cool. She didn't take attendance - she didn't need to. She let us sit anywhere we wanted. And she never, ever, used the word "literature". But maybe the most remarkable thing about her was... she actually liked what she did.

Narrator: That afternoon there was kind of a... celebration. They were celebrating youth. Enthusiasm. Idealism. They were cheering for the best, and the brightest. Only they didn't know what I knew then. But they found out. I guess in the end, Miss Shaw did what was best for her. After all, no compromises, no regrets. The only thing is - she didn't do what was best for us. Even today... I don't know who to be angry at. Her... or the system that drove her away.

Private Butthead [5.14][edit]

Narrator: In nineteen-seventy-two, the war was still raging in Vietnam. Politicians kept talking. Soldiers kept dying. And no one seemed to know why. But, maybe because the war had gone on too long... or maybe, because it had caused too much pain... whatever the reason... most of us managed to keep it at a distance... and go on, with our everyday, normal lives.

Narrator: Love is never simple. Not for fathers and sons. We spend our lives full of hope and expectations. And most of the time we are bound to fail. But that afternoon as I watched my father sheltering his son against a future that was so unsure, all I knew was they didn’t want to let each other down anymore.

Of Mastodons and Men [5.15][edit]

Narrator: In a lot of ways, high school boys are a lot like primitive man. They forage for their food. They fashion crude tools. And of course... they hang out in groups. In fact, about the only difference between my friends... and Neanderthal man was... Neanderthals had bigger brains. The tribe. That year we were inseparable. We'd faced all the challenges. All but one, anyway. Women. Julie Aidem. We'd been goin' out for two weeks. And to put it mildly... she appreciated the little things about me. She liked my laugh. She thought about me - lots. That was Julie. She watched over me. Took care of me. Civilized me. Let's face it. She was good for me.

Mr. Aidem: It's not that bad - having people who care for you, you know?
Narrator: I guess Ben understood something. Something that I'd learn... in time. But me? I was just a sixteen-year-old guy. And the way I saw it... there were still a lot of mastodons yet to be slayed.

Double Double Date [5.16][edit]

Narrator: And then I kissed her, on the eye, and then she kissed me, on the eye.

Narrator: But the thing is, that was all we did. Maybe it was happening too fast. Maybe we wanted to hold on to what we had. Or maybe we both knew there were other things we had to find before we found each other. All we really knew for sure was, as we sat there, looking out over the lights of the town where we had grown up together, it all felt right. It all felt...perfect.

Hero [5.17][edit]

Narrator: I guess magic doesn’t last forever no matter how much you wish it would. Destiny can turn on a dime and cut like a knife.

Narrator: And then that man... "Mr. Pencil stubs and Alka-Seltzer"... "Mr. Pay the bills and go to work"... said something I'll never forget.
Jack: Let me tell ya something, Kev... it's not easy being a hero.
Narrator: And I knew he wasn't talking about Bobby Riddle. He was talking... about himself. Some heroes pass through your life and disappear in a flash. You get over it. But the good ones, the real ones, the ones who count - stay with you for the long haul. The thing is, after all these years, I couldn't tell you the score of that game. What I remember is... sitting in that diner, up late... being young... drinking coffee with the only real hero I ever knew. My Dad - Jack Arnold. Number one.

Lunch Stories [5.18][edit]

Narrator: In March of nineteen-seventy-two, a lot of great things were happening. Events that would shape history, and alter the way we think. Still, among all that change, there was a common thread. One experience that united us all. Lunch. At twelve-oh-five PM every day... kids all over America piled in to high school cafeterias. Like lemmings to the meatloaf. You remember. The sights, the sounds... and that smell. That odd combination of wet trays, warm silverware, and pale green beans. But lunch at my school, like most others... was rarely about food. It was about drama... lust... power... intrigue. Not to mention... humiliation. In a way, it was kind of a stage. And we... its principle players. There were those who could never seem to find a place to sit... and those no one wanted to sit with. Those with natural charm... and those who had to work for it. Me... I was just an ordinary Joe... being served something unidentifiable by a guy in a hair-net. Stocking up on waxy milk... and congealed blue-plate special. Yeah. All in all... life was good.

Narrator: And, there ya had it. Lunch. Where romances bloomed and died... and returned again. Like last weeks leftover tuna casserole. Where the fondest dreams and aspirations of young adults reached their zenith... and the quest for knowledge became its own reward. Sure... maybe all those dramas played out over lunch weren't really dramas after all. Still looking back... they sure seemed that way.

Carnal Knowledge [5.19][edit]

Narrator: If there’s one thing every kid needs growing up, it’s a best friend. Someone you trust. Someone who trusts you. Someone you measure yourself against. You go through everything together. Important things. Stupid things. Things that matter. Things that don’t.

Narrator: It was the first time I ever realized how truly perilous love could be. And I guess at that moment it was clear. Some things never change. After all, Paul was Paul. And no matter what, the guy... needed... me. Growing up is complicated. Kind of a race against time. A search for identity. For love. And the outcome's always in doubt. Things happen fast. Sometimes too fast. But that night, with Paul... I knew one thing. We'd been through everything together. And from here on out... no matter what... we were gonna need each other... more than ever.

The Lost Weekend [5.20][edit]

Narrator: Genetics. The heartbeat of heredity... the lynch-pin of the family. Parents supply their children with the same basic building blocks. The same blood types. The same involuntary responses. The same essential gene-pool. Yet, despite all this potential for similarity... sometimes things get confused. Sometimes, Mother Nature, in all her wry sense of humor... goes off and creates... total and complete opposites. Like me and my brother, Wayne. It was hard to believe we ever occupied the same womb. The only thing we had in common... was our complete and utter contempt for one another. All in all... my brother and I were just two different branches on the family tree. Me, the good branch... Wayne... the dead-end.

Narrator: The thing is... I was prepared for the yelling, screaming, the gnashing of teeth. But what I wasn't prepared for was... the complete and utter silence. Well, maybe this was justice. A pay-back for all the times I'd laughed at Wayne when he got in trouble. In any case... there was no way out. Course, he should have told. It was the moment he had been waiting for... his whole life. But he didn't. I'm not sure why he didn't. Maybe he saw it was futile to try to explain. Maybe he knew how much harder my parents would be on me... than on him. Or maybe he forgot, and though he really did it. Or just maybe... for that one afternoon... my brother saw in me, a little bit of himself. Growing up brothers is kind of a mixed bag. Strangers. Warriors. Enemies. Idiots. Friends. One day you fight to the death. The next... you'd lay down your lives for each other. I never did say "thanks" to Wayne for what he did. But I washed his Corvair. And waxed it, too. I figured, hey - any guy who did that... deserved a shiny car.

Stormy Weather [5.21][edit]

Narrator: It always seemed that in my house, the most dramatic things happened in the middle of the night. Like the night of the big blizzard when Dad got stuck out on the highway... and we thought we'd never see him again. Or the night my brother swallowed a whole bag of marbles... and threw them up in the car, on the way to the hospital. Or the night my eight-legged science project escaped... and turned up in Mom's nightgown at three AM. But nothing ever created quite as much confusion around my house... as the night my sister came back home.

Narrator: Like I said... anything really important that happened at my house... happened in the middle of the night. In a way, it was a relief to all of us. We weren't really good at things like... romance. We were better at marbles, and eight-legged science projects. Ten days later... Karen asked Michael to marry her. And he accepted.

The Wedding [5.22][edit]

Narrator: In nineteen-seventy-two, the "me" decade was dawning. And people everywhere were doing their own thing. Letting it all hang out. And setting out to find themselves. The world was changing. And my family was right in the middle of it.

Narrator: The next morning, I watched my sister get married... and welcomed a new brother into my family. I watched my mother send her firstborn child out into the world. And felt her sorrow. I watched my father give away his only girl... to a stranger he hardly knew. I said goodbye, myself. Looking back, maybe it all seems a little silly. But being there, in those passing moments, I saw that something real and important was happening. Not just for Michael and Karen, but for all of us... in our small and fragile, almost-insignificant suburban family. After all, those were passionate times, when children were pioneers... on the road to find out, wherever that road might take them. When brothers and sisters, looking back... wished they'd known each other better. And parents, filled with love and despair, held on to the past... and kept a quiet vigil, for the future.

Back to the Lake [5.23][edit]

Narrator: When I was growing up, summer vacations meant one thing - fun. Two solid months of goofing off, hanging out, and sleeping late. June, July and August were a time when anything was possible, when the hardships of school were over, and the promise of great times lay ahead. As for me that summer of nineteen-seventy-two, I was sixteen. Still young enough to bask in the pleasures of summer. The real delights... the harbingers of doom. It was grim. Within hours of his graduation, my brother had been Shanghai'd by the American workforce. Not that I wasn't sympathetic. Still, it was about time the Wayner got a taste of the old Puritan work ethic. I mean after all, this was Wayne's problem, not mine. Until of course, it was. Oh, God. Here they came. Those two words which meant death to summer fun.

Cara: Hey! Send me a Christmas card?
Kevin: I will.
Narrator: But, I didn't. After all, when you're sixteen, eight months is a lifetime. And time had moved on. For both of us.

Broken Hearts and Burgers [5.24][edit]

Narrator: By the time you've made it to age sixteen, you pretty much know all there is to know. About history, philosophy - the world. About life. There was virtually no situation you can't handle. Yeah, you're on top of your game - the pinnacle of poise, the essence of cool. No doubt about it - from the right thing to wear, to the right place to sit, to the right person to sit with. At sixteen, you pretty much learned it all. Well, almost all. OK. So there's one subject you're just as dumb about as you ever were. Yeah - love. Like I said, at sixteen - you've learned nothing. Nothing at all.

Narrator: And there you have it. The awful truth, the bottom line. When it comes to love... there's no simple fix. You're out there, on your own, and maybe all you can do is hang on...and hope for the best. And lead with your heart. When you're sixteen, passions run high. A simple misunderstanding becomes a matter of life or death. You live from moment to moment. And sometimes, when you're sixteen, the only way to get your love back... is to take it.