Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Year Without TV, Part One

As promised, below is the first essay from my new collection of essays "Observations on a Life Not Yet Observed."

The Year Without TV, Part One

In one of our few attempts at being non-conformist, Diana and I chose not to get a TV when we first got married. Like many newlywed couples, idealist notions about only needing each other and not wanting TV to take away from our aura of togetherness helped explain our rational in a way that sounded romantic—and by romantic I mean when Diana explained it people went “awe, that’s sweet” and when I explained it people said, “you are one cheap jerk, I pity your wife.”

We had a twenty inch computer monitor in the TV’s place that sat humbly on the dresser in front of our bed, and was attached to a computer; this afforded us the luxury of watching the occasional movie, and let us stream the few TV shows that we still liked to watch off the Internet.

The idea worked quite well—for about five months.

We both began to have withdrawals from TV, as Fall came along and reviews of the years “Must See” shows began to appear on blogs and magazines.

“Remember when we used to stay up late, and snuggle on the couch watching reruns of Seinfeld?” Our conversations would frequently begin. They were sweet memories of cuddling at the start.

The more desperate we got for TV, the less sweet our memories would get. They went from reminisces of cuddling to simply blunt proclamations like, “I’m bored. Need TV.” The more we lusted for TV, the dumber and more fragmented we talked. We both worried that if we held out any longer we would resort to lying in bed in near vegetated states mumbling “TV” as we let drool come from our mouths.

Our problem, of course, was we could not justify buying a TV while the brand new monitor still worked fine. A reasonable man might consider smashing in the monitor and then shrugging and telling his wife it just kind of happened. Diana wouldn’t have even gotten mad if I had smashed the TV; she would have probably bragged to her friends about the violent measures I would resort to just so she could get a new television. I, however, just couldn’t justify doing harm to an inanimate object that had never wrong me.

A week into the new Fall season, I was reading in bed while Diana strained to watch a poorly streamed episode of Gossip Girl from the Internet. “Did you see it?” She suddenly said excited.

I looked up confused. “What?”

“A flicker! There was a flicker on the screen!”

“It was probably just a glitch in the video.” I said not willing to believe that God could be so kind to us.

“No. Just watch it a second.”

I set my book aside, and inspected the monitor from bed like a scientist looking through a microscope hoping to find the cause of cancer; in that moment, finding a slight glitch in the monitor was on par to finding a cure for cancer.

Moments later it happened again. “Did you see it?!”

This time I had. It was a quick flash, followed by every red color on the screen dimming and then getting bright again. “Maybe it’s the video?” I stood, went to the mouse, and loaded a new page.

I went to Google, the site that knows all, and then took a step back, and waited for a new flicker. This time I waited on the edge of the bed so I could inspect the monitor even closer. I waited almost a minute before turning to declare impatiently to Diana, “See! It was just the video.”

Diana sighed disappointed but then nearly jumped out of bed and hollered pointing at the screen, “There! It just did again.”

“That's it then.” I said satisfied, “It is going bad.”

“I can't believe it. We haven't even had it a year.”

“No,” I announced with great confidence, “This is God’s way of telling us we deserve a new TV.”

Diana nodded. She was my go-to yes gal whenever it came to buying things with money we didn’t have.

I used my arms to measure the dresser, and then took a step back and studied my imaginary measurements. “What if we went for bigger?”

“Okay! Like thirty inches?”

“I was thinking more like forty.”

She nodded excited, and then said so soft I knew she was hoping I didn’t hear it, “Can we afford it?”

“No! But we have money set aside for times like these” I emphasized times like these to make it sound like losing a TV was on par with nuclear holocaust.

I could tell Diana was not fully comfortable with the idea, and I knew I had to present her with one more reason why this was a good idea; I thought for a moment and then finally asked, “We’re supposed to be saving money, right?”

“Yeah, but...”

I cut Diana off, “Having a bigger TV would help us save because we would be happy just staying home and watching a movie.”

“Let’s do it!”

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