I grew up watching the television show Bewitched, and got deeply invested in the series. I wanted to be Tabitha, hated when Adam was born, had a favorite Darrin (the first, of course), adored Uncle Arthur, wanted a visit from Dr. Bombay when I was sick, and secretly thought my mother was another Endora. I wanted to be Samantha, and wanted her house, her life and her talents. Even as a child, I was frustrated with her self-imposed restrictions on witchcraft, and admired her clever and creative ways of circumventing rules.
Yet life happens and we grow up, and it doesn’t quite turn out like a TV series. Or does it?
I grew up chafing at restrictions to my freedom, to the point that when I turned 18, it became a life-long fervor to never be restricted again. I grew up in a strict matriarchal German household, and whew, there were lots of rules and “don’ts”. Yet, like Samantha, I would wiggle my nose (yes, I practiced in the mirror for hours) and be cute and charming and get my way with no one being the wiser.
I met and married my husband, whose name began with D (close enough to Darrin, I thought). My mother did indeed turn into Endora (or maybe she always was), and would call him any name but his actual one. Remember how she would call Darrin anything but that? Durwood was my favorite. I would marvel at my mom, seeing how she would perfectly embody Endora’s disdain, covering up her fierce love for me in thinking that no one would ever be good enough for me as a spouse. My husband was very good-natured about her, yet like Darrin, always a wee bit nervous when she was around. And just like Endora, she would pop in and out of our lives in a disconcerting manner.
During my childhood and beyond, I had many fun Uncle Arthurs in my life. I always gravitated towards a fun disposition and a snarky sense of humor, no doubt due to Uncle Arthur’s influence In my actual life, I did have the good fortune to meet Paul Lynde as a child, and was awestruck. We were standing in line for dinner at a restaurant in New York City, where I grew up, and he was ahead of us in that line. I stood as close to him as possible, but even as a child, I could tell he was a surly and unhappy man. I later read that’s usually what he was like when he wasn’t performing. The Uncle Arthur types in my life I adored, and still love. I grew up in the 1970s in Greenwich Village, with a mom who was quite accepting of alternative lifestyles, so our home was usually filled with some colorful and fun characters.
No luck with having Dr. Bombay take care of me, ever. Although I did have a few male doctors here and there with a sense of humor, I never did get the exotic potions that he prescribed. Later on, when I moved to the magical place of Asheville (NC), I did meet quite a few naturopaths and herbalists who did dispense some herbal concoctions with the same zest and verve Dr. Bombay did, so maybe Dr. Bombay was more of an herbalist himself? That’s my theory anyways.
Remember that amazing stove Samantha had in her kitchen? I always loved that cozy kitchen. The one elderly neighbor that I adored, had the exact same kitchen and stove. You should have heard my shriek when I saw it for the first time. My neighbor was slightly bewildered at my glee for an appliance and smiled politely when I explained why I was so excited. She didn’t get it, but that’s okay. I fawned over that stove every time I was over there, but she rarely used it. Now I wished I had taken a picture of it.
Unlike Samantha, I didn’t have a Tabitha, although I did love that name. I had two boys, and a nephew named Adam, but that’s as close as I got. I even worked in advertising for a while like Darrin did, and got to spend time with the ad execs who were quite similar to Larry Tate, and they remain some of my fondest memories.
Then there’s the witchcraft part. I grew up with a form of folk magic, and did spellwork without really having the language for it. I didn’t really put two and two together until I found myself in the midst of a witch community and it dawned on me. “Oh, I’ve been doing that my whole life!” Guess I was too distracted by the onslaught of life to really pay attention, and when it is part of your daily life, you tend to take things for granted and not really delve too deeply into it. I worked spells and other forms of magick, and just got things done. That was just part of my European upbringing, tales as old as time. So it makes sense I gravitated towards Bewitched, since some of it seemed oddly familiar to me. Don’t even get me started on Endora’s hair colors and colorful outfits. That was so like my mom.
It takes time and perspective sometimes to really appreciate something that was part of your life for so long. Bewitched was relegated to the pile of TV shows I watched as a kid, a kid who spent way too much time watching TV because that was my babysitter back then. The older I get, the more I appreciate what a unique cultural touchstone it was and continues to be. As you see, it wove itself in and out of my life in many ways, and for that I am appreciative. A television show can be more than entertainment, as this show was for me. It’s more like a quick snapshot into what life was like and how it applied to someone who seemingly led a completely different life, but who still walked among everyone quietly getting things done in a magickal way.