Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Mike's Not-So-Sympathetic Pains

Archie (Carroll O'Connor): Women are supposed to have pain in childbirth. That's one of God's commandments.

Mike (Rob Reiner): One of God's commandments?

Archie: Yes, yes, it's in the Bible. If you read it, you'd know. It's right in the beginning there, in the book of Generous. The Lord said to the women, 'In pain shall youse bring forth children.'

Mike: God said 'youse'? He must have been hanging around the Lower East Side of Heaven that day.

In the 1970s, natural childbirth was very fashionable — you know, no drugs and the father taking part in the delivery, that sort of thing. At least, I heard a lot more about it then than I have since. Thus, it was a hot social topic that was (pardon the pun) fertile ground for a sitcom plot.

On this night in 1975, All in the Family's Gloria (Sally Struthers) was in her fourth month of pregnancy. In the episode that aired 40 years ago tonight, Gloria revealed that she was taking natural childbirth classes, and attention shifted to whether Mike (Rob Reiner) would be in the delivery room for the birth of their child. Archie, of course, was against it.

It seemed to be all settled that Mike would be in the delivery room — until he confided that he wasn't excited about the idea — which prompted a fight between the Stivics. The fight continued as Sybil from the neighborhood market came by to perform some "tests" that would (supposedly) tell them which gender to expect when the baby was born.

Archie (Carroll O'Connor) dismissed it as "crapola" — until Sybil predicted the baby would be a boy.

Afterward, Sybil and Edith (Jean Stapleton) reminisced about when they gave birth to their babies. Edith said childbirth was "the biggest thrill" and expressed regret that, when Gloria was born, she could see the whole thing reflected in the doctor's eyes and "I wished they was Archie's eyes."

Mike and Gloria slipped into the kitchen, where Mike told Gloria he had decided to be in the delivery room with her.

"There will be plenty of room for me in that delivery room," Mike said. "I won't be in anybody's way."

Gloria insisted that wasn't the real reason for his change of heart, and Mike conceded she was right.

"I figured, if you're going to see our baby's birth in somebody's eyes," Mike said, "I want 'em to be mine."

Then he added, "Unless I pass out."

"If you do," Gloria told him, "I'll have the doctor give you mouth–to–mouth resuscitation."

In his best Groucho Marx voice, Mike replied, "Make it a nurse, and you've got yourself a deal!"