Inexorable March Of Time Brings TV's Jerry Mathers One Step Closer To Death

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Issue 3728

ESL Textbook Concentrates On Food-Preparation Vocabulary

NEW YORK–An English as a Second Language textbook focuses predominantly on food-preparation vocabulary, night-school student Eduardo Reyes reported Monday. "I must admit, I would like to learn how to say more than, 'I have diced the onions,' and, 'Did he want scrambled or over-easy?'" said a disconsolate Reyes, speaking through a translator, following his first lesson. "I had hoped to learn words for the different parts of the body so I can pursue my dream of becoming a doctor. I have instead learned much about the grilling of chickens."

Candidate Turns To Focus Group For Position On Rape

RICHMOND, VA– Wanting to "feel out the popular attitude before committing to a position," Virginia House of Delegates candidate Mark Earley turned to focus-group analysis Monday to determine Virginians' stance on the hot-button issue of rape. "So far, results indicate that the state's residents skew heavily toward anti-rape," Earley said. "A good 99.9 percent of Virginians say they feel strongly that the state would be a better place if rape were reduced." Earley has not yet declared whether he will adopt a hardline anti-rape stance or take a more moderate position to avoid alienating the state's estimated 35 pro-rape voters.

Cuba To Buy Car

HAVANA–In a bid to bring its citizens greater independence, the nation of Cuba decided Tuesday to pool its resources and purchase a car. "We know of an '82 Buick Skylark in Haiti that we should be able to fix up and make usable," Cuban transportation minister Alvaro Perez Morales said. "Having a car will make it easier for our citizens to do everything from grocery shopping to commuting to work." Use of the car will be determined by lottery, with a winner chosen daily from the nation's pool of 11 million citizens.

I've Never Been So Accurately Insulted In All My Life

Well, you crossed the line, that's for sure. I've been insulted before, but until today, I'd never been attacked with such appalling accuracy. I cannot believe you had the gall to unleash that torrent of utterly valid criticisms. Vicious, founded attacks like yours cut deeper than any knife.

Peeping Tom Tired Of Watching People Watch Television

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO–Jonathan Hargrove, a Colorado Springs-area peeping Tom, expressed exasperation Tuesday, when a fifth consecutive victim did nothing more with her evening than watch hours of television. "I thought peering in on strangers would be more, I don't know, exciting," said the 44-year-old Hargrove, speaking from his hydrangea-bush hiding place. "I guess I somehow expected other people's lives to be more sexy or interesting than mine." Hargrove did note, however, that Big Brother 2 is "really starting to heat up."

Headline News' Makeover

Last week, CNN Headline News unveiled its much-hyped makeover, intended to lure younger viewers. Among the changes:

Up In Smoke

Hola, amigos. What say? I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I've had my balls to the wall lately, working an overnight shift at a convenience store.
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  • Father Apologizes For Taking Out Anger On Wrong Son

    ELIZABETH, NJ—Moments after losing his composure with an unwarranted emotional outburst, local father David Kessler reportedly apologized to his son Christopher Thursday for erroneously taking out his anger on him and not his older brother Peter.

Inexorable March Of Time Brings TV's Jerry Mathers One Step Closer To Death

HOLLYWOOD, CA–The inexorable march of time, the prison into which all humankind is born, brought Leave It To Beaver star Jerry Mathers–and all of us–one step closer to the grave Monday.

<i>Leave It To Beaver</i> star Jerry Mathers, whose light grows dim.

"I saw Jerry Mathers on Entertainment Tonight a couple months ago," said Barry Carter, 34, of Duluth, MN. "It was weird. He still has that baby face, but he's, like, in his 50s now. I was like, 'Whoa, look at Jerry Mathers, he's getting up there in years,' and my wife said, 'Well, aren't we all?' I guess it's true. I'm not as young as I used to be, either."

Added Carter with a reflective sigh: "It makes you think."

Mathers, who recently came face-to-face with his own mortality when a worm he swallowed on The Tonight Show's "Celebrity Survivor" gave him a severe stomach infection, once charmed millions as the irrepressible mischief-maker "The Beav." Yet, as sands through the hourglass, Mathers' remaining moments on Earth continue to run out, bringing the star of the short-lived '80s syndicated series Still The Beaver closer to the day when worms would eat not just his stomach lining, but the whole of his flesh.

"Jerry Mathers?" said Clear Lake, IA, homemaker Janet Platt, 49. "He was so adorable on Leave It To Beaver, the very picture of childhood innocence. But then his youthful innocence gave way–as it must for all of us–to the hard-bitten realities of adulthood and, eventually, old age. But he will live forever in my heart, as well as the hearts of millions of others, where he will always remain the quintessential American boy."

Indeed, as we all project our deepest doubts and fears onto the canvas of our earthly existence, struggling to create meaning where there is none, so too is it with TV's Jerry Mathers. The symbol of an entire culture's faith in the magic of childhood, Mathers has been the subject of myriad rumors, all untrue. Not only was he said to have been killed in the Vietnam War, but he was also rumored to have grown up to become the legendary, death-obsessed '70s shock-rocker Alice Cooper.

Mathers (right) and <i>Beaver</i> co-star Tony Dow in the full bloom of youth, never to be regained.

But as these urban legends continue to circulate, the real Jerry Mathers remains very much alive, forging ahead day after day, as all of us must, despite the inevitable end which awaits him in the cold embrace of Death.

"I think life is a challenge," Mathers said during a recent online appearance on HealthTalk Interactive to discuss his twin battles with diabetes and dyslexia. "Every day, when you get out of bed, there's challenge after challenge. So I say, just take each one as they come. Yes, they were both challenges, but, you know, I've met other challenges in my life, and as I say, I will continue to meet and beat them!"

What more can any of us do?

Determined to maintain a positive attitude in the face of the howling void, Mathers greets each day with a brave smile. The actor, who is available for personal appearances at trade shows, never fails to sign an autograph for an admiring fan. In addition, he jogs one hour every day and has maintained a healthy diet since losing more than 40 pounds on the Jenny Craig program, for which he is now a celebrity spokesman.

He still finds regular roles in feature films, including the 1994 thriller Sexual Malice. And his 1998 memoir, And Jerry Mathers As "The Beaver," still in print and a strong seller since its 1998 publication, is a delightful trip down memory lane and an enjoyable book for readers of all ages. Yes, time has been kinder to TV's Jerry Mathers than to most.

Yet we can only wonder: Does Mathers dream of another sort of time? Does he dream of a Vonnegutian reverse-entropy universe in which his smiling childhood visage recedes not into the dimness of the past, but instead moves toward a beautiful convergence, where decay becomes birth, destruction becomes growth, and all find redemption in lost innocence, regained by the reversal of our days?

Only God–and TV's "The Beav"–know for sure.