I don’t write much about my mother, even if as a kid, I was much closer to her than I was to my dad. There’s a great deal of good in my mom, and there’s a great deal of baggage between us. My mother introduced me to Pink Floyd, David Bowie, beer and marijuana. My mom could have been a Charles Bukowski character, and I love her for it.
There was a time when I was a young adult where my mom got into a pickle. Mom helped me when my first girlfriend broke up with me and I had a broken heart, when I couldn’t write a proper paper on Hemingway as I preferred Camus, when I didn’t have enough money for a flask of Tanqueray and a dime bag for Lollapalooza. The day she hit rock bottom, I stepped up. A good son, just like Keith Partridge, minus the bell-bottoms. Because that’s what family does, said Joey Ramone, never.
I helped with the money I had, which means that around the time I supported my mom, I didn’t pay my bills. Whatever I had left was enough for pasta, margarine, six beers a night, and free reruns of The Avengers on television. Being flat broke introduced me to Mrs. Emma Peel, and that other fellow, John Steed.
For the next few months, it would become a ritual: 7PM, my jammies, a bottle of St-Ambroise Pale Ale, my couch, and Emma Peel translated in French. To be honest, as it is a quality—or so they say—my first foray into The Avengers was with Cathy Gale. It’s only when Honor Blackman left the show and was replaced by the exquisite Diana Rigg that I became a die-hard fan of the series. There are no two ways around it: Emma Peel kicked butt. Writers gave birth to her character in the 1960s, but Mrs. Peel was strong, quick-witted, and even more cynical than any of her contemporary female protagonists counterparts I would avoid watching on television. She also wore leather catsuits and had perfect eyebrows. Emma was never the persecuted maiden, she was John Steed’s equal, in every way: she could fend for herself, she couldn’t be pushed around, she was a feminist, she drove her own Lotus Elan…
The evening I initially watched Emma Peel’s farewell scene in the episode The Forget-Me-Knot, I teared up. Diana Rigg had left the show 30 years prior, and although she’s been leaving Steed on syndication since 1968, she was leaving me for the first time. To the flat-broke man giving a hand to his mom in PJs, eating a bowl of spaghetti and drinking beer, Emma Peel was the epitome of sex appeal. She transformed my meagre meal and was the best ingredient I could add to my margarine-flavoured noodles.
Diana Rigg, if you are reading this, I raise my glass of sparkling water to you. A magnificent™ woman you are. As for you, Emma… Call me.
Q: Have you ever developed a crush on a television character?