Saturday, May 06, 2017

Resolving a Family Crisis

"As we speak, hordes of viral Visigoths are hurling themselves over the battlements of my immune system, laying waste to my ... Oh, dear God, you see how weak I am? I can't even finish a simple Visigoth metaphor."

Frasier (Kelsey Grammer)

Take it from me.

I've lived nearly my whole life in the South. The heat makes people irritable.

Not all people. I've known some people in the South who thrive in the heat.

In the South you get used to the idea that it is going to be hot for more than half the year (as a child I often wondered how people in this part of the country survived in the days before air conditioning) — but there are always breaks in the heat, maybe a day or so, that remind people what is waiting for them a few weeks — or perhaps months — down the line.

That is true even here in North Texas. We don't get many breaks from the heat, but we usually have a few punctuating the triple–digit days. They make the often brutally hot days of summer somewhat easier to take.

But that doesn't change the fact that the heat makes people irritable.

They have hot days up north, too, but they aren't prepared for it. That was a big part of the problem in the episode of Frasier that aired 20 years ago tonight, "Daphne Hates Sherry."

Folks in the Pacific Northwest simply aren't prepared for the heat. Heat waves are rare in Seattle, but the city was struggling with one in the episode of Frasier that aired 20 years ago.

That was clearly a factor, but it wasn't the only one.

Sherry (Marsha Mason) was spending the nights with Martin (John Mahoney) on a regular basis, and that led to conflicts between her and Daphne (Jane Leeves), who was accustomed to making the household decisions. I suspected that, under those circumstances, there would have been friction even if Seattle wasn't experiencing a heat wave.

Heat waves do affect people, though. Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) was struggling with the flu, which may or may not have had anything to do with the heat. I've heard of summer colds all my life — I've even had one or two — but I can't say I can recall hearing of people having the flu during hot weather (except in Stephen King's "The Stand"). Niles (David Hyde Pierce) was sweltering in his large, unair–conditioned apartment.

Anyway, after a quarrel with Sherry, Daphne stormed out of the apartment and ended up at Niles' door asking to spend the night. This was a few years before Daphne and Niles ended up getting married, and having Daphne at his door was a fantasy come true for Niles.

And for awhile they engaged in the kind of playful conversation people in such a situation would be expected to have. They were almost flirtatious — and, at the same time, they were hesitant to cross the line, aware perhaps that, if they did, there would be no going back.

(Indeed, a couple of seasons later, they did cross that line, and there was no going back.)

The awkwardness of the moment ended when Daphne realized that the pills she took for her thyroid condition were back at Frasier's apartment. She said she would run back to the apartment and get them, but Niles offered to go with her — and then fetch the pills for her. He didn't want to take the chance that Daphne and Sherry might make up — and his opportunity to spend the night with Daphne would vanish.

So they returned to Frasier's apartment, and everyone wound up in the bathroom where Frasier was taking a bubble bath.

Frasier the psychiatrist had to try to resolve the problem the women were having — which he did, and they made up. And everyone was happy except Niles. Frasier told a petulant Niles that he knew that the situation wasn't right. That was why he brought Daphne back.

Niles protested that they came back for her thyroid pills.

"You're a doctor," Frasier said. "Why didn't you just use your prescription pad?"

"Oh, my God!" Niles exclaimed as it dawned on him what Frasier was saying.

"Isn't there an all–night pharmacy across the street from your building?" Frasier asked.

"Oh, my God!" Niles exclaimed as he staggered out of the bathroom.