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you sitting down? Because what I’m about to share is startling, and I’m only looking
out for you here. Ready? All right. Here it is: This week, September 20, marks
the 30th anniversary of "The
Cosby Show." This means the groundbreaking show debuted three decades ago, folks.
It also means that we’re bloody old.
so many "Cosby Show" fans, I have a
thousand favorite moments. Certain scenes left an indelible mark on that
part of the brain where all things pop culture collect and take root. The whole
Huxtable fam ja-ja-jaammin’ on the ones
in the studio with Stevie Wonder(!). The Gordon Gartrell shirt. The excellent
Elvin Tibideaux Takedown about his chauvinist ideas, masterfully delivered by
head mama in charge Clair Huxtable: “And
if you don’t get it together, and drop these macho attitudes, you are never gonna have anybody bringing
you anything anywhere any
place any time ever.” Man! It was classic wig snatching, and it was glorious.
In fact, many of my top scenes
involve Clair Huxtable. She was soft and solid, serious and silly, compassionate
and commanding, confident and charming, and so damn fly in her jumbo earrings
and shoulder pads. Clair Huxtable was the ultimate example of what having it all looked like way before it even
became A Thing (granted, one that we soon realized was unattainable.)
So in honor of "The Cosby Show's" 30th anniversary, here are the 6
lessons I’ve picked up from Clair Huxtable on motherhood.
Whether it’s being part of a lip-syncing,
choreographed dance routine to "Night Time
Is the Right Time" to celebrate her in-laws’ wedding anniversary or
snatching a hoagie from right under Cliff’s nose, Clair made sure she was in on
the fun, experiencing things as a joyful participant instead of a smiling observer
standing just outside the frame. It’s more fun inside the circle. And I’ve long
made a strong effort to get — and stay — in the picture.
It’s about the look. Or, The Look. It issues credible
threats, throws down gauntlets, draws hard lines in the concrete, screams
“Don’t you even!” and promptly shuts shit down all without uttering a word. Clair
had a couple different versions of The Look. Each allowed her to tell you about
yourself in no uncertain terms, and sometimes with the mere arch of her brow. I’ve
worked on this for five years now, fine-tuning it as my son moved from petite
bébé to toddler and now freshly minted kindergartener. The goal is to reach
Clair Huxtable status by 2015.
3. This Is Not a Negotiation
There was this one episode where the youngest
Huxtable, Rudy, tried to pull a fast one by playing her folks against each
other so that she could wear a purple summer dress to a party. Her mother had
already told her it was no, and Clair was not budging. No matter how much Rudy
whined, begged and tried to smart-mouth her way into the dress, it was still
no. Clair firmly, but sweetly told the youngster that there were rules and that
she needed to follow them. There was no yelling, no deals, no empty threats.
Just mom’s words laid out plain and simple.
Clair was a lawyer, a working mom with five
kids, yet she’d still carve out time for herself. How often did we catch her
chilling on the couch, her legs resting on Cliff’s, reading a thick book? Or
who can forget those super, silk-ified pajamas she would slip into every night to
unwind. I know. It’s TV magic, but the
message still resonated with me. Time for yourself — to recover, restore and
refresh your mind, body and spirit – it’s crucial. Even if we’re talking about
a corner of the day reserved just for you to play games on your phone while
hiding in garage (or keepin’ it real in the bathroom) without having to tend
to anyone else’s needs and issues, we should find that time and treat it like it’s as
precious as platinum.
Clair was the champion
at this, and sounded eloquent, brilliant and so damn smooth each time. If
something goes down that you don’t agree with or don’t like how it will affect
you and your choices, then speak up. Like the time she set Denise’s new
pseudo-profound boyfriend straight after he had the stones to ask Mrs. Huxtable
why she doesn’t just stay home with the kids since her husband makes a lot of
money. Without a breath or a beat or even a sour look, Clair says: “That is a
sexist statement, young man. Why didn’t you ask Dr. Huxtable the same thing?”
Yes, yes, and yesssss! Clair will not tuck in her feminism for anyone.
Even when Clair and
Cliff were at odds (for, like, the first bit of story A and certainly resolved
by the end of the third act), there was always love right there on the surface
of everything. Taking away privileges from Vanessa after she lied and sneaked
off to Maryland to see a concert, or teaching Denise the real-real about money, spending and buying a car on impulse? Love
was still there in the foundation of everything Clair Huxtable rested on. And
building a family on that kind of bedrock feels like sound planning to me.
I just need get fluent with my Spanish, brush up on some opening credits choreography and work on perfecting the melted-butter grin with the Boss Lady stare, and I’ll
be ready to change my name to Nicol — no “e” — Huxtable.