Sometimes I miss having television, and then I remember the day I sat slack-jawed before a Bridezilla marathon. Hours of one screaming princess after another, beleaguered grooms and stressed bridesmaids and harassed wedding planners and snippy mothers-in-law and crying ringbearers and late flower deliverers and fumbling musicians and catty dressmakers and me, entranced before the screen on a Sunday afternoon in November.
In December, I canceled my television service. I think it was 2006. The price was being jacked up every year and was reaching toward $70 a month. I didn’t even get the costly movie channels, and that much a month for access to shows like Bridezilla and a zillion channels I never watched wasn’t worth it. I would keep Netflix and watch movies on my Playstation.
I did not expect to feel so naked in the weeks after service was shut off. It felt like I’d taken a step back to the cave. Television has always been there. It was my friend in the living room during childhood, where I danced before the screen shouting for the power of Grayskull and cheering the unlucky sap getting slimed on Nickelodean. It was my friend in the bedroom through adolescence, where I ate dinner alone but for the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In college, it was my friend when I got off work at midnight. I needed to wind down, and Jerry Springer was there with some new inanity to share with me.* After my mother’s aneurysm, I lost myself in Xena: Warrior Princess and the most delightfully appalling reworking of history. I taped every show to watch in my scant free time around classes, work, tending siblings, and caring for a mother who was now blind, paralyzed, and unable to speak anything more than gibberish.
As an adult, it was my increasingly unreliable friend after work. Getting a degree for a job washing dogs at a pet store and shuffling papers at an insurance company was a future I never envisioned, and I desperately needed to tune out from the reality of my own life. Television wasn’t as helpful as before, because everywhere I flipped was reality shows. I couldn’t get into most of them, but learned it is better to not say that one does not care for Survivor. Especially when one’s job has an employees’ Survivor club every Thursday lunch, and a rabid fan base of pale accountants.
To get rid of television service was like ending a long friendship for inadequate reasons. We didn’t have a falling out. It wasn’t THAT much money. But I wasn’t get much out of the relationship any longer, and Bridezilla stressed me out more than helped tune me out. Who behaves like that? At least in Nanny 911, the focus of the show was changing negative behaviors. Bridezilla was purely about reveling in them, and as I hadn’t watched much TV that month, I’d basically paid $70 for six hours of adult caterwauling.
Goodbye, television. But I did not know what to do with myself that December, picking up the remote over and over out of habit before remembering that it was no longer an option. Now it is years later and I no longer think of channel surfing as an activity. The naked feeling has passed. I read the news online. Netflix sends movies. I’m not really missing anything except a zillion channels I didn’t watch, and Sunday Bridezilla marathons. I’d only watched it because it was on, and that convenience is all I lost.
Yesterday I missed it, though, because a headache flattened me and the pills drop my IQ to Bridezilla level. But this happens only twice a year. I know a few other people who canceled service but kept the Netflix, and one hardcore fellow who lives with neither. Unfortunately, that hardcore fellow is my old boss Mr. Magazine Time, someone I want to have as little in common with as possible. Mr. Magazine Time liked to brag that in the time other people were watching TV, he was learning Spanish and how to play with guitar. He was being industrious while other people were vegetating, and I did not point out that while other people were being industrious at work, he was vegetating by reading magazines in his office and taking pointless videos of the inventory to post on YouTube. So he didn’t have any leg to stand on there, a man who makes $100,000 a year to leave work early and practice the guitar while those lazy other people put in a full day and then take a well-deserved break with television.
I had a lovely conclusion to this post, but instead I’m just alarmed and wanting to watch Bridezilla in order to prove I am nothing like Mr. Magazine Time. Does Netflix have it?
It does. On discs AND streaming!
ADD TO QUEUE.
* However, in my junior year of college Jerry Springer shared with me a set of identical twins that were romantically involved. With each other. I turned off the show at the commercial break and never watched it again.