Howie Sullivan could be a key witness in getting Lowell Baldwin off on a 40-year-old murder charge. Lowell, of course, is a former 60s radical who police accuse of setting a bomb in a bank which ended up killing an innocent security guard. Howie was a member of Lowell’s band of anti-establishment protesters, and his testimony may prove Lowell didn’t commit the crime after all. Since Lowell’s recently been arrested after decades on the run and living under an assumed name, and the son he abandoned all those years ago just happens to be a hotshot lawyer, everyone’s after Howie Sullivan to get Lowell, who now goes by ‘River,’ off the hook.
This would all make much more sense if I prefaced this by saying this isn’t the Howie Sullivan that you and I know as the Chenango County Judge, and that all of the people mentioned above are fictional characters on “The Young and the Restless.”
Timing my lunch hour as I often do to coincide with “Y&R” (it’s nice to turn my brain off for an hour mid-day), imagine my surprise this week when Lowell Baldwin and his son Michael started talking about Howie Sullivan. It’s the kind of thing that’ll rouse you from a post-lunch Pringles-induced coma and make you suddenly pay closer attention to the goings on in Genoa City.
Usually, soap characters have names like “Ridge” and “Thorne” or “Skye” or “Greenlee.” So it’s not every day you hear “Howie Sullivan” (no offense to the real Howie, of course.) I’d read once that soap names are cleared by the networks so as not to easily correspond to anyone of notoriety in the real world. I guess the “Y&R” execs don’t visit evesun.com.
Of course not much that happens in the soap universe corresponds to the real world. In the same episode that repeatedly mentioned Howie Sullivan (sorry, Judge, but I think he’s destined to be more of a day player than a new leading man), Genoa City’s young sexpot district attorney marched into the town’s only restaurant and confronted not one, but two potential witnesses in a murder case with new evidence she’d uncovered. No court reporter or opposing counsel present, she just plopped right down and shoved pictures of the murder victim in their faces and told them they’d better come clean. I’d kill to see Joe McBride do that at Nina’s some day.
If I did kill, literally, in a soap opera town, my picture would be on the front page of this newspaper, five or six columns wide (and most likely my Glamour Shots portrait), every day throughout the duration of the trial. But then again, if I was on trial for murder in a soap town, it’s pretty much a given that I was wrongly accused, and the real murderer would be revealed, in the courtroom, just as I was being sent up the river (or sentenced to death, regardless of whether my fictional state even had a death penalty). And naturally, I probably would have slept with one or both attorneys, and one of the jurors might even be my long-lost evil twin, who used to be identical when I was getting paid to do a dual role, but is now played by a newcomer at a far lesser salary and is inexplicably now my fraternal twin.
You might think now that I spend far too much time watching soap operas, but I’d argue that it’s an occupational hazard. Reviewing the daily life in Chenango County (this week alone -- shocking resignations! an elderly man wrongly jailed! plea deal denied! 4-H Week celebrated! OK, maybe that one’s a stretch ...), in the pages of the newspaper, one’s bound to get addicted. It’s just good drama.