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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

How The Other 1% Lives

A Jehovah’s Witness came to my house yesterday. Two, actually; a man and his wife. They don’t remember, but they walked up my driveway over ten years ago when I was building my house. It took me a long time to get rid of them last time, as I had no door to close, just a hole where it would be placed when it arrived. And if you’ve ever attended Catholic school, you know that you are forever incapable of brusqueness towards much of anybody. Kinda funny, when you think about it; nuns taught me to be so unfailingly polite that I stand there listening to a spiel about another religion. Well, not listening exactly; waiting.

Anyway, I knew exactly how to get rid of them this time. They asked me a question about something or other topical, and I mentioned to them that I have no television. They gave one another knowing looks and fled. When Jehovah’s Witnesses think you’re an odd waste of time, you’ve accomplished something heroic, as I see it.

I know, you don’t see it that way. You figure I’m normal and I lied. But it’s the truth. I’ve seen about twenty five hours of television in the last calendar year.

Did you flee when you read that? There’s only two explanations if you stuck around:

1. You’re one of these “Kill Your Television” types, always lecturing how the “them” sucks your minds out through the tube and yokes you to their hellish vision of mindless consumerism shackled to the death machine of the government. You spray-paint slogans on highway abutments to signal your displeasure and alarm the populace, who disappoint you by becoming alarmed only by the prevalence of graffiti, but keep watching Survivor and buying elaborate station wagons. If you’re one of these types, I guarantee you you watch a lot more television than I do. Your hatred of television is the hatred of the “stop me before I kill again” variety. We’re all supposed to stop because you can’t. Me? I just don’t watch.
2. You want to look at the weirdo that doesn’t watch television and try to pick up subtle clues about what sort of blunt trauma I suffered and maybe learn what sorts of activities to avoid, that I favor, that will safeguard you from missing figure skating or lively talk shows or effeminate furniture re-arrangers or whatever.

Well, I’m unable to help either subset, because I don’t watch television because I really don’t care what’s on it. That’s it. There’s no deeper meaning here, and I’m not giving a lecture about it. I don’t like guacamole, either, as it has those mushy green things in it, what do you call them? See? If I watched Nigella Lawson I’d know those were avocados. [Insert obvious joke about Nigella’s melons here.]

At any rate, we can’t even do it if we want, more or less. When we moved here, there was no cable TV. I don’t know much about broadcasting television, but the one direction no one broadcasts much is towards me, or Portugal and ships at sea, which is the next thing you’ll hit after me. I got used to snow on TV year round, and when cable came through here I’d long since lost interest and it passed us by.

I wanted to watch the Patriots game last night. Here’s what I had to do:
1.Find out if it was being broadcast here. It isn’t always, anymore, what with all the pay TV people that broadcast things now. It was on broadcast TV, but the numbers don’t signify on my TV. I’d have to look for a Fox station up around the dog whistle end of the spectrum. And I had to find the listing on the internet, my beloved internet, and the TV page on my service provider’s site was terrifying to navigate. You guys watch all that? Must keep you busy.
2. Now for the French Underground radio operator portion of the exercise: Disconnect the 15 dollar bent stalks and doughnut antenna from the FM tuner. Take the cable from the wall plug and attach it to the rabbit ears. Put the whole mess atop the armoire the screen’s in, near the window or you get nothing. The cable I disconnect is there to allow us to have the signal from the DVD player go to a second screen in the house. The house is wired for cable. You can go yell in the other end, hanging on the pole near the street, if you want to talk to me.
3. Say two Hail Marys, in case there’s a god. Hail Marys are good for football games even if there isn’t.
4. Ah, channel 120 out of Providence, Rhode Island. Well, it’s in color, that’s good. We have to rely on the commentators to tell us who caught the ball, as we can’t always make it out in the snow. The snow is not in Foxboro, it’s just in our set, by the way. When it snows a little in Foxboro, there’s a blizzard in our set. It stinks to rely on the broken down steroid case and newsanchor also-ran on the broadcast, as they have no idea they could still be talking to people in my situation, and instead of saying anything of use to me, they just keep ejaculating things like: “Look at that!” Did you see that!” and: “Watch this!”

The Patriots disassembled the Washington Redskins into their component parts and stomped on the pieces, and I was sanguine. According to the advertising I was subjected to, no one has a car, an erection, or cable tv, and they’ve got just the things I need to remedy those deficiencies.

I’m all set on all counts, thanks; I’ve got two of the three, and the other I can do without.

8 Responses

  1. You’re in good company. Michael Medved does not watch TV either. We don’t watch TV for ourselves until the children are in bed. That limits us somewhat.

    Scared off a Witness? Wow. I am impressed.

  2. I on the other hand, get enough snow in New England, plus I like my snow either outside or as part of a nice Grand Marnier mist.

    I’ll be removing my old roof antenna from the 1960 vintage house I bought recently – ya want it?

    And I always try to remember where the OFF and MUTE buttons are on the remote.

  3. jbgood-It’s a tempting offer, but I’ll have to pass.

    Ruth Anne- It’s always the least amount of work to scare them away- even a shallow grave is a lot of work to dig…

  4. I went to catholic school for, well, too many years, and I was a brusque bastard even in school. The penguins didn’t eat me heart or me brain for that matter.

    I used to ditch the JW’s by saying I was gay and Jewish, but this tactic has become less effective over time.

    I have been taking to saying Jesus owes me money, and I ain’t talkin’ to flunkies until he pays me the $386 he owes me! This has been surprisingly effective, and if they are somehow able to pay up, I’ll listen to their speil and then throw them out on their collective keisters!

  5. We have TVs, but 90% of their use is to play something we’ve chosen (as oppposed to something someone else thinks we should like). There’s just no that much on TV to interest us — or at least to make it worth our time. And why would I pay $40 a month to receive more channels I don’t want?

    Maybe we can get a group together — the Regular Association of Voluntary TV-non-watchers.

  6. Pastor Jeff- You have fairly ably defined our situation. We have a screen upon which we look at entertainments that we have chosen as suitable. The idea of needing something to pass the time is far-fetched around here- we covet any block of time too much to waste it on ‘what’s on’.

    If you don’t watch television for a while, and then you look at it fresh, your view of it will change enormously.

  7. Ah, the joys of scaring away both cable TV salesmen and JW’s.

    My daughter successfully dispensed of the former yesterday by assuring him solemnly (and truthfully) that we didn’t have cable because her parents simply didn’t want it. It left him dumbfounded and at a loss for a comeback, as it always does. They don’t teach them that one in their training sessions.

    JW’s are a little trickier. I invite them in (if I’m in a good mood and not too busy) and proceed to take charge of the conversation. Otherwise they will take me along the same tired outline they’ve been using for decades, just with an updated intro. I direct them to a couple of Bible verses that really don’t fit their theology and ask for an explanation. They can’t explain it. Ever. So they leave with a solemn promise that they will consult and return with the answer. They don’t come back. I assume they’ve been told I’m of the Devil and they should stay far, far away from me. I must get on a list, because I can go years before the next visit.

    (See, Greg? I told you I’d let you in on it.)

  8. Sippican said: “If you don’t watch television for a while, and then you look at it fresh, your view of it will change enormously.”

    I find that to be SO true. When I started my own business I became less of a couch potato and more aware of what was going into my mind. I believe Americans are like frogs….and you CAN boil a frog to death, did you know that? If you place a frog in water at room temperature then turn up the heat you can boil the frog to death. However, if you place a frog in boiling water, they will just jump out. Americans have been sitting in the slowly boiling pot and have allowed themselves to die a slow, boiling death. I, myself, prefer to be like the frog that immediately jumps out of the boiling water. I’ll attempt to create my own reality vs. living vicariously through the lives of people on “reality” tv….

    And, my door is marked…The JWs don’t even come around cuz I have my bible in hand and love to point out whatever it is God directs me to point out.

    Take care,
    Mary (Ruth Anne’s sister)….

    P.S. I love reading your blog

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