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Family F'ing Ties!
By Robin Shorr

I foolishly thought Alan had already given my dad the golden taping tickets. This unplanned stop was only going to leave us an hour and thirty minutes to get to Paramount Studios in Hollywood. My dad ran into the house leaving me and my sister and mom in the car. There wasn't much to say, so we let my mom's Pointer Sisters tape do all the talking. Tonight's the night we're gonna make it happen. Tonight we'll put all other things aside. I'm so excited! And I just can't hide it! I'm about to lose control and I think I like it.

My dad came back outside to say that Alan was having trouble finding the tickets and maybe we should all come in for a second instead of sitting in the car. Again, not in the plan. I checked my Swatch. I could allow a quick trip inside, but it was still an aberration. We were losing precious time with each step that Mom, Diana, and I made down Alan's entryway. Within seconds, the front door flung open and fifty people inside yelled "SURPRISE!" Oh. Right. I forgot to mention -- it was my mom's 40th birthday that day. But that was irrelevant because, in case you forgot, we had tickets to see a taping of Family fucking Ties.

Greeting each party guest deducted crucial minutes from our time. My dad had severely overbooked us. This big party he'd planned for my mom was beginning to put a real crimp in my pre-taping rituals. We'd have to take the picture standing in the line outside the studio, we had to vie for the best seats, we had to harshly judge the warm up comedian guy, and we had to wait breathlessly for the cast introductions. This party was great but we needed to leave for Hollywood, like, now.

I tried to approach my dad, but I was swiftly interrupted by more unwanted full boob hugs from a gaggle of my parents' suffocating friends.

I remained laser focused on my mission. This was going to be the taping that would change our lives. The taping that would stop the cycle of my parents lavishing each other with expensive gifts (and now, parties) and then getting into door-slamming fights. The taping where my sister would admit that I hadn't really been adopted. That I was her flesh and blood, just like Alex and Mallory. The taping where Michael J. Fox would pick me out of the crowd and take me for a spin in his Dolorean that traveled through time. We had to go and we had to go LIKE NOW.

I tapped my dad's shoulder and told him as much, to which he replied with a few casual words that set an instant fire in my soul. "Oh, Robin, Bubalah, there's no actual taping of Family Ties tonight. I just picked the name off the top of my head to distract you so that you wouldn't spill the beans about your mother's surprise party."

What? I walked away in horror and looked back in anger. I muttered, "But did Diana know?" My dad said, "Of course she did. She's older. She's already learned how to be a human being and keep her mouth shut."

The room spun as my dad's words punched me in the stomach. Planets began falling out of the sky. The Topanga Mall came crashing down. The kingdom made of rainbows and marshmallow clouds exploded. And perched on one of those clouds was my school principal and the entire fifth grade, laughing uproariously. If we didn't go to this taping, the gifts would get more expensive. The doors would slam harder. My Pop Swatch would stop ticking time. Who were these cruel people with their adoption tales and lies and full boob hugs? My biological family would never have done this to me. I began to think someone was taping this. And they were having quite a laugh. Sure, this was going to be that final moment of any given Family Ties episode where my disappointment was patched up with a heartfelt hug from Michael Gross around the kitchen island. But alas, Alan's house didn't have a kitchen island and clearly my disappointment remains completely un-patched to this day.

An elaborate rum cake was wheeled out for my mother. My father's arm was wrapped lovingly around my mom's waist, with no indication that he'd let her go just five years later. As the grating tune of "Happy Birthday to Margie" grew louder and louder and Family Ties became more and more of a distant unreachable star, I ran for cover into Alan's den and did the only thing I was good at. I sat my fat ass down and turned on the TV.

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