growing up balki: one girl’s childhood memories of mypos and all things perfect strangers

perfect strangers 1

This post is going to be long. It’s going to be detailed.

But typing it out here has got to be less expensive than beating the ear off my therapist for an hour while lying uncomfortably on her mohair couch.

Or something like that.

Anyway.

This is a true story.  (Are you kidding?  I couldn’t make this crap up!)

Raise your hand if you were a child of the 90s!

Keep that hand up high if you spent just about every Friday night watching the TGIF lineup on ABC. *Waves hands wildly in the air* So if your hand is up you should be familiar with titles such as: Full House, Just the 10 of Us, Going Places, Family Matters, Step by Step and of course, Perfect Strangers.

TGIF was big in our house. Big. My sister and I loved Full House the most, followed closely by Family Matters and Step by Step. Friday nights meant school was over for the week, takeout cheesesteaks for dinner were a good possibility and a night of sensible, wholesome television programming was imminent.

There’s just one little part that I left out: my mom, God rest her soul, had a borderline worrisome fanatical obsession with the show Perfect Strangers.

Perfect Strangers. Do you remember it? Let me jog your memory. Here are some keywords: Balki, Cousin Larry, Mypos, Chicago, festive vests, sheep named Dimitri, Dance of Joy, tassels (the non-booby variety), Chicago Chronicle.

A true American sitcom, Perfect Strangers ran for eight seasons on ABC from 1986 through 1993. It starred Bronson Pinchot as Balki Bartokomous, an immigrant sheepherder from the fictitious Eastern European island of Mypos . Mark Linn-Baker played Balki’s midwestern cousin, Larry Appleton. Do you remember it now?

The theme song went a little like this:

So my dear mother, at some point in the 80s, got it into her head that this show was the best entertainment to hit the airwaves in quite some time. And as my sister, brother and I were all extremely impressionable and thought that everything she did was, like, AWESOME, we had no choice but to grow up under the guise of Balki and cousin Larry.

In no time at all, it became painfully obvious that we were a little different.

While my friends were collecting New Kids on the Block trading cards, I had binders that proudly displayed my collection of TGIF themed trading cards.

Photo Credit

While my friends were drawing pictures for their parents depicting flowers, rainbows, puppies and waterfalls, I was drawing intricate maps of fictional theme parks including Six Flags Over Mypos. Sure, it wasn’t drawn to scale, but I never said I was perfect.

balki

balki made this tapestry of mypos for cousin larry. sadly my map of 6 flags over mypos is long gone.

While my friends were playing baseball, kickball or holding cutthroat Skip-It tournaments during recess, I was perfecting my Dance of Joy.

While my friends baked chocolate chip cookies with their moms, I wanted to know why we couldn’t bake Bibbi-Babkas.

And last, but certainly oh-not-so-very least, while other friends were practicing super cool dances including, but not limited to, the Electric Slide, Cotton Eye Joe and the line dance that accompanied Achy Breaky Heart, I was training my brother as he perfected the Fresh Young Balki B rap/dance.

After reviewing all of this evidence I suppose it was inevitable that Balki and his antics would have some sort of impact on my life. In fact, it was pretty much a given. But despite the show’s definite cheese factor and the overwhelming urge it put forth to set sail on a Mediterranean cruise while herding sheep, I can’t deny that it was a fun, albeit quirky, childhood.

And now here we are, a jaw-dropping 19 years since the final episode of Perfect Strangers aired in 1993 (Good GOD – there is NO WAY I am that freaking old!). I have told myself that Perfect Strangers was a thing of the past, a distant memory.

So then how do you explain the fact that I walked into IKEA a couple of months ago and instead of seeing a festive couch-enhancing decorative pillow collection… I saw pillows that had clearly been made from scraps of Balki’s old Myposian vests.

I mean, am I right or am I right?

balki mypos

perfect strangers

This post is very lovingly dedicated to my mom, her P.S. partner in crime, El Kaye and to my fellow blogger friend, Steph, who provided an alarming amount of encouragement to write this post and face my Myposian childhood.

perfect strangers 2

p.s. Feeling the need to watch Perfect Strangers?  You can grab Seasons 1 and 2 of Perfect Strangers for $16.75 on Amazon.  I may or may not have just purchased one for myself.

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  • http://twitter.com/CSHMDonnaReed stephanie anderson

    I LOVE THIS FOR SO MANY REASONS, not the least of which includes that you created the word “Myposian.”

    • Anonymous

      LOL!! I’m so glad you liked it – and I also feel the need to inform you that I definitely did NOT create the word Myposian. Oh, it’s a word, my friend. Indeed.
      :)

  • http://www.perfectstrangers.tv/ El Kaye

    Devon, this is too precious. Being on the other side of the fence as your Mom’s co-conspirator, I often wondered what all of you (her kids) thought of this overwhelming passion for everything P.S. I still have the video of us “performing” an episode we read aloud from a script when I visited! This brings back such wonderful memories for me, I miss your Mom so much and wish we hadn’t fallen out of touch over the years. I think of her and all of you many times while working on the website. Thank you for sharing this . . . talk about your self-therapy! And deep down don’t you still wish you could know what bibbi-babkas really taste like??? ; )

    • Anonymous

      <3

      and YES – I always longed for my very own Bibbi-Babka!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/renifilin Renata Ortiz Fernández

    Hey, Linda Kay sent me here! This is a truly beautiful post!!! I totally agree with your mom that PS has been the best thing to be on TV hahaha =) may she rest in peace!!! Thanks for such a lovely tribute to the best TV show ever.

    Sincerely
    Renata O. from Mexico

    • Anonymous

      Thank you so much, Renata! I am thrilled that you enjoyed the post! :)

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  • August

    This post rocked! Those were the days!

    • Anonymous

      They sure were!! :)

  • http://profiles.google.com/colleenmac Colleen Werner

    I found my way here from your mamacheaps blog. Just wanted to say thank you for letting me know I’m not the only one that comes from a family that references Perfect Strangers (I had actually forgotten the origin of some of the phrases common in our family until reading you post).

    Anyway, your post is timely in that I just saw a commercial for “The Bronson Pinchot Project” on DIY. I wanted to be sure to point it out to another Balki fan.
    http://www.diynetwork.com/the-bronson-pinchot-project/show/index.html

    • Anonymous

      LOL! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! :) Yes – I saw the DIY show – I will definitely be checking it out!