I watch too much TV.
I always did, you know. I’ve been a vidiot since early childhood, when my father would ask me, “Do you think you’re ever going to make a living out of watching television?” Well, I showed the old man. For sixteen years, that’s exactly how I earned my keep. I spent six years teaching cable company employees how to sell TV channels they were too lazy to watch; then, I spent ten years writing bill stuffers for cable customers, telling them what they should watch on that hodgepodge of channels they didn’t know they had. Of course, they would rip up my work without reading it, but that wasn’t my problem. All I cared about was having a valid excuse to hog the remote at home. I would blissfully surf from one channel to the next, watching all kinds of good garbage, and if anyone tried to pry the clicker from my hand, I’d clutch it to my chest and cry, “this is RESEARCH; I’m WORKING!”
I was shameless.
But then, when my husband and I were between houses, we moved in with my kids for a month, and my son taught me a whole new way to watch television.
You see, my son has two overriding interests in life… real estate and food. If he can’t sell it, flip it or fry it, he has no interest in watching it. Consequently, everything he wants to see or hear is available on two channels: HGTV and the Food Network, and he didn’t let us watch anything else while we were guests in his house.
But you know what? It didn’t matter to me. At the time, we were in the throes of selling one house and buying another, and he introduced us to programs that spoke to our hearts. Should we have fixed up the old house instead of buying another? I spent hours binging on Love It or List It, and never got a definitive answer. Should we buy new furniture or fix up the old stuff? Christina Al Moussa wouldn’t have hesitated; she would have thrown the old garbage out and filled our home with blingy new furnishings. Should we look for a house with a pleasant configuration, or pick up a bargain and knock down its walls? I longed to share in Chip Gaines’ destructive catharsis, and long after we’d moved into our comfy new home, I’d stare at each wall maliciously, wondering whether I could knock it down and enjoy the delights of open concept living.
I must say that my husband got over the HGTV thing much faster than I did; once he was ensconced in his very own man cave again, he took his brand new remote and started surfing around for his kind of television: Law and Order, NCSI, and old John Wayne movies.
I sat in the living room, combing through the listings with Jonathan and Drew, and every time my husband entered my domain, he’d ask the same question: “Are you still watching that crap?”
I began to feel self conscious about it… and like a fat little girl who feared being caught with the third Hershey bar of the morning, I started changing the channel whenever I heard him coming. One day, I switched to my son’s other favorite, The Food Network, and chanced upon a group of chefs being forced to make a dessert out of the outrageous ingredients in a little brown basket… horrid things like mangoes, spinach, geoducks and Milk Duds… and I got hooked on Chopped. Faster than you can fry an egg, I became a Food Channel addict. For months I watched nothing else, and I really must tell you, I picked up a lot of information. I learned how to balance sweet and savory elements, how to substitute some herbs for others, how to get commercial tomato products to stop tasting like tin cans, and how to put tiny servings on enormous plates, so people would think I was a gourmet chef. I learned everything except how to duplicate Anne Burrell’s spun sugar hair.
Goodness only knows how long my Food Channel addiction would have lasted had my daughter not met a wonderful boy and entered into a serious relationship. Like most mothers, I started dreaming of the day they made it official, and started wondering what kind of wedding dresses were out there, and which would look best on my daughter. I knew that TLC had a program called “Say Yes to the Dress,” and one day, when Chopped was playing a rerun with which I was a little too familiar, I did the unexpected. I switched the channel.
TLC has Say Yes to the Dress… Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta… Say Yes to the Dress UK… and for those who’ve already said yes, Four Weddings, in which four bitchy brides attend each others’ nuptials and throw shade on their rivals’ gowns, venues, food, liquor, and guests, as they vie for a honeymoon they could easily have afforded had they not spent the GNP of Lichtenstein on their over-the-top bridal celebrations.
Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta plays between seven and nine in the morning. At first I would fall asleep at some point in its second hour and wake up for Four Weddings. Sometimes, though, I’d wake up between them, and that’s when TLC
used to play Hoarders. A few times, I awakened to see a house that looked much, much worse than my own messy little abode and I’d think, “Geez! Look at that! I’m not THAT bad!” Just when I started thinking I’d watch Hoarders on a regular basis, the channel changed its programming lineup and started showing “Little People, Big World.” Very quickly, I got caught up in the life of the Roloffs… in their divorce, their children’s marriages and pregnancies, their burgeoning new relationships.
After Four Weddings, when I was about ready to go and make myself some lunch, TLC would play “My 600 Pound Life.” Don’t you think this one speaks right to the heart of this chubby chickie? Every show is the same. You meet an enormous person who can no longer move, bathe, travel, work or have sex. They visit Dr. Nowzaradan (who should really throw away his bottle of Just for Men hair dye) to ask for a gastric bypass. He puts them on an 800 calorie a day diet, and asks them to lose 30-50 pounds in a month. (I know. Right???) They cheat and put on weight. He yells at them, throws them in the hospital, and shows them they can lose weight by actually not eating. He sets them free, and they try harder. They succeed, get their surgery, and lose hundreds of pounds… which leaves them with enormous flabs of flapping extra skin that needs to be removed surgically. Nobody ends up good looking, but at least they can work, drive and bathe.
Try to watch this at lunchtime without cutting back on calories. It’s the best deterrent to overeating that I’ve ever found.
Dr. Now is followed by three or four hours of Say Yes from New York, then the channel’s evening programming, which usually consists of multiple episodes of one of their shows.
A few nights ago I wasn’t sure whether to expect the Roloffs or Dr. Now, and I found a brand new program… dealing with the problems of severely overweight little people.
That’s when I realized I had a problem.
All I wanted to do was browse through wedding dresses; how did I get myself mired in the personal problems of a bunch of fat dwarves?
I need to stop this addiction to specific channels. I really do. I need to start watching scripted series, and movies, and sitcoms and plays, regardless of which network plays them. I need to start watching the news, and more public television.
Or better yet, I need to start reading books again.
I loved them, you know.
And I will again. Right after Randy shows this bride the newest gown by P’Nina Tornai.