Monday, October 20, 2008

Boob Tube

Miss Chef has the tv on in the next room as I sit here wondering what musings I had today that might develop themselves into something interesting. Though I'm not actively watching it, there's something magnetic about the sound of canned conversation that continually breaks my concentration. Which makes me think about the overwhelming presence of tv in American life.

When we moved, we decided to forgo cable for budgetary reasons, which has subsequently restricted our options to 5 networks plus 3 different PBS stations. With only 8 channels--or fewer, depending on the weather--I've often found it impossible to find anything watchable with a decent reception, and so have become much more comfortable turning the set off.

Nowadays, when people ask me if I watched Big Losers Star-Dancing with Bachelorettes, or whatever, I've developed a perverse enjoyment in responding "No; we don't have cable." Usually I get a pause, a blank look, and then a "well, anyway..." as they continue on. And I find myself exempt from trying to pay attention to or express interest in something that doesn't really deserve either. As an added bonus, my interlocuter realizes they need to cut to the chase, and the lack my knowledge in that show eventually leads the conversation into more fruitful areas.

However, the best bonus of tv lite is the incredible amount of time I have to do other things! Instead of spending an hour or two every evening staring into space, I often walk the dog, play in the garden, do chores or, perhaps most often, read through a hundred pages of a library book. All this, and we save hundreds of dollars every year.


For two hours have gone by, and instead of watching reruns of Two and a Half Men, I have enjoyed a wonderful hearty meal prepared by Miss Chef, followed by s'mores toasted over our fire pit outside (under the quiet supervision of Rosie the dog). Don't get me wrong; I really enjoy that show, and it makes me laugh, but it's still easier for me to turn it off for something else. For now, I'm free of the addiction of tv.

An addiction it is...Miss Chef and I occasionally discuss what channels or shows we miss in our uncabled home, but I'm nervous about the day we decide we can budget for cable. It won't be two weeks before I "have to" catch a different show every night. Our conversations usually end with "if only we could just pick the half-dozen channels we really want." (Don't worry--I'm not about to start analyzing cable and satellite packaging schemes.)

So, tomorrow at work, I may not be able to swap stories about how Jake learned something off-color from Uncle Charlie, but I'm betting one or two people will be just a leetle bit jealous of my s'mores fest on the patio.

APPENDIX: Y'know, if you google images of "boob tube," you don't get a whole lot of pictures of tv sets. Just a little extra info for your personal edification.

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