Everybody Loves Raymond, Got It?

I have to pause this.

Now listen. In this household, everybody loves Raymond. That means everybody.

Liking Him is not enough. You can feel that way about Marie, Robert, or even Robert’s ex-wife. That’s how much freedom you have here, despite what people outside these walls say. But Raymond deserves more. He is more.

So get your act together. No half-hearted chuckles. No silent grins. Every one of His punchlines, every expression He makes to elicit a laugh must be met with an unequivocal, unmistakable outburst. Or else.

And if you think you can be sarcastic about it like you were doing just now, Michael, think again. I know how you picked up that wise-ass behavior, by the way: I saw your search history for “Jim Halpert best moments” on the family computer. So guess what? You’re grounded.

That reminds me: I also saw the boy next door—that horrendous influence on your blossoming young minds, Timmy—toss a DVD up over the backyard fence the other day. Let me emphasize how dangerous it is to smuggle into this home any other sitcom besides certain episodes of The King of Queens, The Nanny, Cosby, and, of course, Becker. You’ll be that much more susceptible to the backward ways of those who snub our beloved idol.

That’s why I had to divorce your mother after I walked in on her watching The Big Bang Theory. A breach of trust of that magnitude required it. What she didn’t understand is that without loyalty to Raymond, there is no purpose in this home. The more loyal you are, the more opportunity, respect, and, yes, dessert you get. To remind you of that, Raymond’s face is engraved on your dinner plates.

Trust me. I’ve been dedicated to Him for decades. I sat down and watched each episode when it first aired. I took a knee during the commercial breaks. And I stood up while the credits rolled and saluted from my thoroughly exercised diaphragm. But that’s not all.

I uploaded the first video of Raymond to YouTube in February of ‘05. I’ve also been a diligent, authoritative commenter on 7,482 others since. Why? Because His reputation is my satisfaction. My salvation. My former in-laws’ source of indignation.

It’s that sense of duty that I want to instill in you. You can show it many ways, as the master list of Reverential Acts to Raymond Albert Barone makes clear. They’re all wise choices. And believe me, there are few greater Earthly pleasures than performing a RARAB.

Geoffrey, you’ve committed to learning to play the show’s theme at your piano recital next month. Attaboy. And hopefully we can get that English teacher of yours to accept a persuasive essay in the form of a column about what the Mets need to do with their bullpen.

Ally, you were amazing during last week’s fire alarm, grabbing all seven boxes of VHS tapes of the show from the vault, along with my two dozen button-downs that match Raymond’s season four wardrobe. Well done. You even rescued the ten gallons of water I got from the Barone home’s kitchen sink after the old couple living there ran errands with their garage door up. That you didn’t use it to douse the flames in the fireplace shows your presence of mind in the heat of the moment. Don’t let the fact that I left the damper closed on purpose taint that. Really.

I just wanted to make sure you’re all on your game for Pilot Day. This year, we’ll be making an earlier pilgrimage to Lynbrook to buy up all the Newsdays; Ass in Seat is scheduled for 5 AM instead of 7, on account of the school buses.

Until then, it’s vital that you know that there is no better sitcom character than Raymond. It’s a vast world of dimwits and know-it-alls and generally not good people out there. You know the ones that shall not be named; they’re on a show about nothing, for God’s sake. It– it makes me sick to my stomach. Ally, ginger ale, please.

That said, remember that we are more pro-Raymond than we are anti-anyone else. Here, we love to love.

And if you have a problem with that, Michael, then you better see if you can move in with those classmates of yours who live downtown. At their place, everybody hates Chris.

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