THE BOOB TUBE

Yesterday was spent making my last 10+ hour round trip from Vegas to LA. I packed up everything that won’t be needed for my one-week hotel stay, interview clothes (just in case)  and then possibly a couple of trips, and took it to Abbi’s to be put in storage.  She  already told me I had “way too much shit,” and rolled her eyes when we toted another full carload into her apartment.  Once again, I reminded her that if I was going to be living somewhere in the fall I’d need all that “shit.” If I wasn’t, we could go though and pitch.  I didn’t remind her that half of the “shit” in our storage unit was hers, and she has a place to live.

During the four years Bill and I were stationed in Hawaii we didn’t own a TV. My time was spent cooking, baking all our bread, knitting, sewing, quilting, learning to be Abbi’s mom, directing the cherub choir at the base chapel, and attending officers’ wives club functions as well as being involved in the youth group at our church.  I had friends on base, and one of them was teaching me to paint. I spent Abbi’s naps at the kitchen table honing my new skills. Being a full-time-stay-at-home-mom was my full-time job, and I loved it. We bought our first TV when we got transferred to Lowry AFB in Denver and wanted Abbi to be able to watch Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers (and I got hooked on Murder She Wrote). After that, even owning a TV, I’d spend my evenings reading and listening to good music.

I owned a TV. It didn’t own me.

Living in a sorority house with 35 – 200 girls is different. There’s a staff to oversee, walk-throughs to make sure no one threw up on the carpet the night before and didn’t think it was their job to clean it up, finding things that need to be fixed (there are always things that need to be fixed), maintenance men to escort to their job and chaperone while they’re working in girls’ living areas, and the fun part spending time with the girls and  watching “Boys Meet World,” “Criminal Minds,” or “Jeapordy” marathons or joining in  a “Mama Mia” sing-a-long.  But no matter  how interesting the outside-the-job-life of a house director is, 9.5 out of 10 times, you’re going to walk into her apartment and the TV will be on.

Mine usually came on at about 4pm for Judge Judy (don’t judge me) and stayed on till bedtime. I don’t remember being in that rut in my NorCal school, primarily because I was so into my writing community, but when I hit San Diego State, I fell into the same rut as my counterparts.  Half the time, I didn’t even know what I was watching.

I started to realize how bad my addiction had gotten when Cornelia Read came into my life. I needed a dictionary to read her first book, “Field  of Darkness.” Talking to her made me remember that I used to know what those words meant. Luckily, she loves me and continues to nurse me through vocabulary rehab.

So being at Laurel’s was a bit of a culture shock for a couple of days. Then, I started liking it. Enjoying the peace and quiet. Hearing the wind in the trees and birds chirping, working on more damned re-writes and reading at night.

I remembered that one of my Alpha Phi’s had just been hired by Hulu and decided to check it out. Then, discovered that all the major and a couple of minor stations have videos of their prime time shows that can be watched the next day — except for The Evil Fox that won’t let you watch their shows for 7 days unless you have a cable connection. But if I had a cable connection, why would I have to watch the show on Hulu? I know. Me and my logic again.

So I went on a mission to find the shows that actually interested me, and wrote down the nights they were on so I could watch them the next day. Monday: Alcatraz (cancelled by The Evil Fox), Survivor, Castle, NCIS, NCIS-LA, Criminal Minds, Revenge,
The Finder (cancelled by The Evil Fox), and The Shark Tank. Out of all the 400+ channels with endless shows, there were only 9 shows I really wanted to watch. And the best part was that I wasn’t held captive by a time slot. No, I don’t know how to Tivo or record to watch later.  So, if I needed a break from work at my Starbucks office, I’d pull up Criminal Minds.  Or I’d come home at night and watch a couple of shows. And I realized I didn’t miss anything  except the daily news and some sports.

Then, Laurel called last week to tell me she’d turned the cable on in preparation of her sister arriving this Saturday. And I turned it on. Suddenly, I was watching a day-long NCIS marathon, even though I’d seen most of the episodes. The next day found me in front of a Criminal Minds. And after my shows were off at night, I’d find myself scrolling through the endless “Beach Butts,” “Zumba,” “57-year old looks 27,” “Wealth Without Risk,” and shopping channels and realizing I had no idea how many infommercials were on TV now. After 10pm, they’re on every channel. I even started to order a couple of the things after investing a half hour of my life watching their schpeel, but caught myself just in time — primarily, because I didn’t know where to have them shipped.

Suddenly, I was longing for the days when television wasn’t on 24/7. There were three channels, we had to get up and turn the dial to get to the next one, and we watched the shows — Ed Sullivan, George and Gracie Burns, I Love Lucy, Gunsmoke (we had no idea Miss Kitty ran a ‘house of ill repute’,  Johnny Carson — as a family.  Kids watched Miss Marilyn, Soupy Sales and Howdy Doody without parental supervision, when we weren’t out playing — missing them didn’t end our world. American Bandstand came on just after we got home from school, and that wasn’t to be missed — ever — that’s where we learned to dance. And we couldn’t wait to show off new skills at 5-cent sock hops in the gym over lunch hour. (Admit it. You practiced with a door knob as a partner, too. Didn’t you?) This spurred the first real teen-age rebellion because our parents thought The Twist was sinful and we danced right along with Bob and Justine on Bandstand anyway.

But times have changed. Television shows are geared to a 7th – 9th grade intelligence level. The only 3 & 4 syllable words are on NCIS and CSI.

Limiting myself to a couple of hours a day (primarily because streaming videos eats up gigga-thingys like sharks guzzle up surfboards), has been refreshing. I’m much more relaxed, don’t have to worry about getting home in time for (or worse, planning my social life around) Castle, and realize that if I didn’t own a TV I wouldn’t miss it. If I end up at another house in the fall, I may just take the sorority’s TV and put it in the closet or one of the girls’ study rooms for the times when they take their computers into a large space, put in an exercise video and rock out in a place where there’s room to move, and stick to Hulu.

I’ve always said that “Life’s too short to drive a hardtop,” and now I can add, “Life’s too short for NCIS marathons.” (At least, most of the time.)

Off to run errands – and go visit  Kenny G., hoping he’s not there. I’m almost wantingI get a house for fall, just so I can give him a home. See you tomorrow.