Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The beast in my bedroom...

It being 06.06.06, I thought I'd write about a beast...although this may not be the beast one might first think of...

I grew up mostly without a television set. Well, for that matter, I grew up without a car, too, and we didn’t have indoor plumbing until we moved into town, when I was 8...but I digress. We had a tv, briefly, when I was 6. I have no idea where it came from, because I can’t imagine my Dad actually laying out cash for one, but...suddenly, we had one, and when the rabbit ears worked, I can remember watching the occasional show. To my mother’s consternation, my favorite show when I was 6 was not Lassie (I was a cat person even as a child, and anyway, I found Timmy impossibly sappy), nor Howdy Doody (he creeped me out), nor I Love Lucy (although I did love Lucy’s zany humor)...nope, my favorite show, as a 6-year-old, was Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I loved that show, and I still remember my favorite episode, although I’ve never seen it again: the one in which a disgruntled wife murders her husband by hitting him over the head with a frozen pot roast, which she then proceeds to cook (destroying the evidence) and serve to the cops investigating the murder. Yeah, I’ll concede that I probably was a weird 6-year-old, but the delicious irony of that appealed to me, even as a little kid.

By the time I was 7, the tv was gone. I have vague memories of some sort of small explosion, but I have a vivid imagination, and it’s possible it died not with a bang, but a whimper. At any rate, it was gone, not to be replaced until I was about 13. In those intervening years, I became an avid reader, with the result that during my formative years, while many of my peers were watching Leave It To Beaver or American Bandstand, I was curled up reading Alcott and Wilder and Twain. I don’t know if that’s the reason, but somehow I’ve never succumbed to the lure of the boob tube.

When I got my first apartment, I bought a good radio and eventually (in my audiophile days) an AR turntable and several feet of vinyl. But I didn’t buy a television set until I realized that my sweetheart loved the old movies shown on Chicago’s WGN as much as I loved my books...and because I loved him, and wanted to please him, I surprised him one night with a small, used black and white set that I’d purchased for $25, and it was a pleasure, to curl up with him on my bed and watch the screwball comedies of the ‘30's, late into the night. But when that set died (shortly after the demise of that relationship), I felt no need to buy another tv.

I married someone who loved tv. Well, I don’t know if it’s fair to say he LOVED it...but at any rate, he was not as distracted by it as I am. Unlike me, he could have a conversation and have the tv on at the same time, and he preferred to have the tv on, pretty much constantly, when he was home. When we got a tv with a remote control, he began to channel surf. Sometimes he would mute the tv and watch the flickering screen, hitting sound when he saw something interesting. Eventually, we agreed on some ground rules:

No TV in the mornings.
No TV during dinner.
No TV in the living room.
No TV in the bedroom.

In Dallas, we moved the TV to the living room shortly before Mike and Chris were born, but only because the game room became the nursery, and also because there were built-in cabinets in the living room that could make the tv disappear.

Time went by. We got divorced. He moved into a house nearby, and bought a big tv for his game room, conveniently adjacent to his kitchen, as well as a big tv for his bedroom. In my house, I redid the master bedroom, but didn’t even think about putting a television set in there, until...deja vu...I began seeing someone who loved old movies as much as I loved books...and I went out one day, and bought a big pine armoire, and a 27" color tv, with a remote...and had both delivered to my bedroom.

Eventually, we broke up, but the tv stayed. I became unemployed, became an insomniac...welllllllll...I’ve always been an insomniac...but, before I had a television set in my bedroom, when I couldn’t sleep, I used to listen to music and/or read myself into a state of delicious drowsiness from which I could slip effortlessly into sleep. With a television set in my bedroom, I stopped reading myself to sleep, having found channel surfing to be a reasonable substitute. And yet...it didn’t escape my notice that when I listened to music or read myself to sleep, I tended to sleep through the night, whereas when I channel surfed my way to sleep, more often than not I found myself waking at 3:07 AM to weird infomercials (e.g., Kevin Trudeau ranting on about "natural cures ‘they’ don’t want you to know about...")

Fast forward to the present. Mike and his girlfriend, Sara, having just completed their freshman year at UA, are living with me for the summer. Highly industrious, both found jobs within a week of arriving here, and Sara, a math major, is taking two tough math courses as well. They won’t have a lot of free time this summer, but when they do...well, they’re movie buffs...and the game room in my house is, once again, the game room. It holds a wall of books, and my desk, and my computer. It holds a leather chair and ottoman, a comfortable, slip-covered couch, with lots of pillows, and a coffee table. It also holds a piece of furniture called an Entertainment Center...which has plenty of space to hold a 27" television set, and a VCR, and a DVD player...and it has doors to shut it all away when we’re not watching movies...

So tonight, Chris is coming over. He and Mike are going to move the tv, and it’s accompanying technology, from the armoire in my bedroom, to the Entertainment Center in the game room. I may watch a movie with Mike and Sara...or perhaps I’ll just read myself to sleep...but I can’t help thinking Joni Mitchell had it right:

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captives on the carousel of time
We can’t return, we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game


Lisa :-] said...

I am a tad more attached to tv than you are, but I still think I could take it or leave it.

odie said...

Unfortunately, if the TV is on at my house, I'm watching it. Doesn't matter what is on. Therefore, I try not to turn it on, but I still watch way too much.

dreaminglily said...

I've found out that I really prefer to have no TV on when I'm home alone. Just feels mindless, if I have nothing to do and just in a state of "I don't care" I'll watch a DVD or turn to TCM, but that's about it now. I read all my news online, I read books before bed... Just not as big of a TV person as I used to be. I listen to radio much more.

Nice to read this entry. I don't know why, just made me feel good.


Deborah said...

my favorite Hitchcock episode was the one where a guy knocks on a door and hands a lady a button in a box. He tells her that if she pushes the button, someone she doesn't even know will die, adn she will get a cool mil. Of course she pushes the button, at the end the guy comes to get the button and tells her he will give it to someone she doesn't even know.

I prefer books to television too, and I implement the hard and fast NO TV in my bedroom.

Tammy said...

I was a latch key kid and TV was my babysitter. Very sad, but a fact. I watched my kids follow my addiction and now my TK is fixated on it at 5mos. I wish I could break the cycle. Hubby was raised like you, but I'm slowly getting him to watch some with me. Tivo and blogging help. My limited abilities give few alternatives, but I'm working on it.

Glad you have company this summer :)

If you need help with the "pop art" site let me know. It's tricky but fun. Bedazzeled is doing it now too.

BionicBuddha said...

I think in someways the TV is responsible for the "instant gratification" which has become so predominant in our society.


ChasingMoksha said...

I hate the TV and think it should be illegal to have one in the bedroom.

I love Joni Mitchell.

Love your game room, the books look fabulous! I have a leather chair and ottoman in my "library" but I have no room to walk. No TV.

I think I saw that Hitchcock episode, I thought it was a leg of lamb. I guess it was a potroast. I had to sneak and watch, my parents claimed I had too many nightmares to watch such shows.

V said...

Thanks,that was beautiful! You`re Quite a writer.
Two things...AR made great speakers; I was so proud when I bought my Ar6a`s.

When I was young, the first Tv we ever had was a rental. You had to put $.25 in a slot for 15 minutes of TV. We usually didn`t have $.50 to waste on a full 1/2 hour show.


Chris said...

I like the idea of trying to go one week without TV each year...but I still have my mistress, the internet;)

Great Post, Emma!

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