As I read the title of this week’s Very Special Blossom, I came to a disturbing realization: I had no idea what second base even meant. Leaving aside that I’ve been with my wife for fifteen years and thus have not had the occasion to brag about how far I’ve gotten with anyone in that time, I never actually used the base markers for anything other than their intended purpose. They always seemed like artifacts of the generation one before mine, and even then operated on a sliding scale. One man’s second base was another, more religious man’s home run. So I did a little research, which consisted of asking the one single woman I know.
Okay, so according to her, it breaks down like this. First base is kissing, second base is anything above the waist, third base is anything short of sex, and home runs are penetrative sex. I have some problems with this arrangement. For one thing, a handjob and a blowjob are two different levels of intimacy. I’m not saying that I’d give them out willy nilly, but say my cellmate only wants a handy? That’s my lucky day right there. And honestly, probably his too, since I’ve got my technique down and everything. And while we’re on the subject of prison, anal is indistinct from other kinds of sex? Shouldn’t that be something, like say, running the bases backwards? Stealing home? Also, second base reduces one participant to spectator. And do gay guys even have a second base? That hardly seems fair.
Blossom and Six have some concord when it comes to the general meaning of second base, but not whether or not skin will actually touch skin is up for debate. This is the classic dilemma of the high school hookup, whether or not you’re going to get under that damnable bra. And not for nothing, but they should really teach how to get those things off in health class, because it’s like disarming a bomb. “Seems like just yesterday we started wearing bras, and now we’re talking about taking them off,” Six quips. This is all my roundabout way of saying “Second Base” (s2 e1) is about Blossom deciding whether to let her boyfriend Jimmy get to second base. Either way, I bet he slides in headfirst, like Pete Rose.
Somewhat oddly, Blossom’s boyfriend is played by Justin Whalin, who has appeared in a total of three episodes, all of which are on this DVD collection. They probably could have just called it the Whalin Episodes, since this seems “Very Special” only by the loosest definition of the term. No one is drunk, using drugs, or pregnant. I mean, you can barely get knocked up by having your boobs touched, and then only if it’s a legitimate groping. In his third appearance, Whalin is neither nerdy William Zimmerman of the pilot nor beefy Jordan Taylor of “The Geek.” This time, he’s someone named Jimmy. Since sitcoms weren’t as aggressively serialized in this era, it was not unusual to suddenly introduce an important love interest out of the blue or recast a previous guest star. For a modern viewer it can be more than a little jarring.
In this situation, the sudden appearance of a love interest who looks exactly like a previous one is explainable, and not just because Blossom clearly has a type. The solution lies right there in the structure of the episode. As things open, Blossom is writing in her diary, which is something girls used to do. Think of it like a blog, only no one is supposed to read it, which begs the question of what the hell is it for. Anyway, Blossom is trying to write about Jimmy while every man in house interrupts. Joey needs advice about attracting early ‘90s icons like Christina Applegate and Cindy Crawford. Anthony is panicking over the possibility of an earthquake. Nick has to write a eulogy for a friend who died suddenly at the age of thirty-eight.
It immediately becomes apparent that Blossom is not a reliable narrator. Her story begins with her and Six discussing existentialism, and while I will happily believe Blossom can do that, Six wouldn’t know Sartre if she let him under the sweater and over the bra. Periodically, Blossom writes things that can’t possibly be true, like Jimmy showing up in nothing but his boxer shorts, them doing a tux-and-muumuu dance number, and the family spontaneously combusting. The guest star cameo is a quick aside with Reggie Jackson that’s like a PG rated version of Xavier McDaniels’s classic, “Jeff, don’t come yet,” line from Singles. One of Blossom’s flights of fancy has been rendered cruelly ironic. She claims Joey’s hair has fallen out and it cuts to Joey Lawrence, a bald cap covering his flowing mullet, screaming at handfuls of his brown locks. I can only imagine this actually happened during his slow transformation into Lex Luthor. The point of all of this is that Jimmy might not actually look like Justin Whalin. We only ever see him in Blossom’s version of events, so it’s entirely possible she has taken her average looking man and overlaid the image of Jordan Taylor, the boy she admires from afar.
Anthony’s fear of and paradoxical desire for the earthquake parallels Blossom’s mixed feelings about taking the next step in her sexual development. And when he picks up the massive novelty pencil in Blossom’s room and rants about how it could impale her, well, it’s hard not to see the Freudian implication of that. Meanwhile, Nick can’t get over a man who refused a cheeseburger one day dying of a heart attack the next. He tells Blossom to reach for that cheeseburger to the point that he all but grabs Jimmy’s dick and presses it into his daughter’s hand.
Even as Blossom gets into the backseat of the car with Jimmy, she doesn’t know if she’ll let him get to second base. I’m not sure if backseat hookups were something people were doing in 1991, either. This feels like an artifact of thirty and forty year old writers putting their own anachronistic youths into an at the time modern character. Anyway, right as she is about to reveal her decision, the earth moves. Literally. The quake Anthony has spent all episode obsessing over has hit. As Blossom comforts a terrified Joey in the living room, she resolves not to tell since some things are private. I thought diaries were private, but whatever. The lesson here is not that one choice or the other was right or wrong, but that it was her choice and we don’t get to judge.
Which, honestly, is pretty awesome. This is a lesson I can totally get behind, at least until I have daughters. Then it’s right to the nunnery with them.