Monday, December 13, 2010


I can think of dozens of ways to divide the world's population, but one of the most profound divisors is this:
When you walk into a room do you turn on the television?
I'm home alone tonight and there's not a sound in the house except for the muted thumps of Nellie's keyboard.   There are the usual house noises, the ones you ignore until the power goes out and you realize that the refrigerator's humming is a constant you've come to accept as background noise.  There is nothing else.

It is absolutely heavenly.

TBG's family always had the tv going.  They played cards in front of the tv, they read the paper in front of the tv, they had family arguments in front of the tv.  Nannie spent her last years at home firmly ensconced in her recliner.  That recliner was possibly the most comfortable piece of furniture I have ever had the privilege to be enveloped by.  Placed strategically so that she could see the kitchen and living room and dining room as well at the tv, she read and napped and talked on the phone to the continuous chatter of Cleveland television.

It made me nuts.

G'ma and Daddooooo moved the television to the basement as soon as portables were commonplace.  Before that, the Motorola console occupied pride of place in the living room.  It was big and brown and had a strange grey hooded thing protruding from the back.  I watched Captain Kangaroo and Howdy Doody on that set.  G'ma bought me my first interactive video game for that tv; a plastic sheet which adhered to the screen and on which I could follow along with Miss Nancy and my pals on Romper Room by using the special marker and drawing on the tv itself.  That sheet had a special smell which I can kinda sorta almost but not quite conjure up, but which I know I would recognize in a heartbeat.  

After we painted the basement, using up all the extra paint left in the garage, the console was out and my grandparents' portable made its way down the stairs and onto the wheeled stand we'd purchased just that afternoon.  My grandparents had received a color tv from their rich son; we were delighted to take their cast-off electronics.  The channel changing knob made a satisfying click with each turn.... all 13 of them for the 13 channels we had.  And no, Cuters, there were no remotes.  Whoever was unlucky enough to be sitting closest to the tv was the one who got up to change the channels.

Still, the tv was in the basement and the family action was upstairs.  If we were downstairs watching tv we had a good reason to be there.  G'ma would fold laundry while watching, and there were certain shows we never missed.  Daddooooo thought that Emma Peel was drop dead gorgeous and he never missed an episode of All In The Family.  He wanted Archie for a friend.  Bonanza and Ed Sullivan were staples, but we never just turned on the television to see what was on.  There was always something more interesting to do.

My older cousin next door loved the 4 o'clock movies, but even her grown up presence wasn't enough to make me want to sit still for two hours when the sun was out.  In high school I had friends who were addicted to soap operas, who raced home after school to catch their stories.  G'ma and I did develop an obsessive relationship with Peyton Place, it's true, but for the most part I was on the phone instead of in front of the screen.

I'm trying hard to be non-judgmental.  There are some people who need constant chatter and connection to the outside world, who need noisy external stimuli to keep them focused and happy.  I'm just not one of them.

And now, if you will excuse me, I am going to open a book and enjoy the serenity.

At least until TBG gets home and turns on the tube.


  1. I have the TV on but a lot of the time it's tuned to the digital music channel of my mood. It's never turned on on the weekends except for a movie or sports at night. When you tell shut up at the TV it's time to turn it off. Done a lot of that lately with the news.

  2. I listen to Comcast's digital music stations, too, Meg. And I yell at the tv all the time - bad grammar, unintelligible analysis, and more than I ever want to hear again about Bret Favre. In my next life I'm marrying a man whose television sensibilities more nearly mirror my own.

  3. Nope, the tv is rarely on. We have one. A cast off from a techie friend. Out of the living room in the back room. We do however indulge in watching

  4. GFG, I'm with you. Choosing specific programs (on or OnDemand) makes much more sense than having the noise running non-stop. Alas, I do not live alone......


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