Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Whenever someone asks me if I’ve seen that hilarious new commercial where the this-or-that says or does whatever, I always give the same answer.
“Sorry … I don’t have TV.”
That little pause, those three little dots right after “sorry,” is to give me time to achieve a suitable level of smugness. And the smugness of my answer, as smug-filled as it is, is actually topped by its questionable truthfulness.
But it gets worse because I always follow up with, “Nope … haven’t had TV for 20 years.” Now this is pushing it, even in the post-Clintonian era, as there was some time there in the ’90s when I actually “had” TV, but I figure that because I didn’t actually pay for it, well, you know. Your honor, we find the defendant … not-ish guilty.
Here’s my point – I watched a lot of TV growing up, and then somewhere in my early 20s, I went for a few years without even seeing a TV screen, and when I finally did, it kinda sucked. It was a particularly bad era for TV, so I decided to just carry on not watching it. And when you stop doing something that many, many other people are doing, it’s easy to get a little bit smug about it.
But then as the years passed, something wonderful happened. TV started to get really good. And I started to watch it. On DVD, the way it was meant to be watched. And I liked it. A lot. But I wasn’t quite ready to give up the smug streak that I’d been on for all those years. So my wife and I would watch TV on my computer screen, sitting in office chairs. A perfectly legitimate thing to do, but after a five-hour “Sopranos” marathon, things can start to go numb. I figured as long as I didn’t have an actual television set, I could continue to have the best of both worlds – I could still quasi-honestly claim not to have TV while enjoying the benefits of TV watching.
Yes, smugness does take a tremendous amount of thought and effort.
Then one day we watched a movie at my brother’s house. He has comfy chairs and a couch to sit on. And a real TV. One that was bigger than a computer screen. You know – like adults have. I was sold. I had to have this same setup. Sure, it would mean doubling up on my smugness program, but it had to happen.
As we were renovating our house last year, I was beyond excited to include a TV in the final design, almost as excited as I was by the prospect of actual floors, real walls and a brand new toilet that can, according to the claims on the side of the box, “flush an entire bucket of golf balls.” This product is obviously geared toward the many clumsy people out there who routinely spill their bucket of golf balls into the toilet and can’t be bothered to fish them out. Though it might also be targeting the people who don’t chew their food very well. There’s probably a lot of overlap in these two demographics.
I took a roll of blue masking tape and I taped out where the new TV would eventually come to rest. Right there on the wall, a blue rectangular outline of my future televised bliss, just so each day I could look at it and dream, dream, dream about the day when I’d have to best of both worlds – I’d get to smugly crow about not having TV, yet have an awesome TV.
And that day is now. A day when I can hold my head high and proclaim, “Sorry … I don’t have TV.”
How can I justify this? Well, because I don’t have any sort of cable or satellite hooked to my TV. Therefore I don’t “have TV.” Get it? Yeah you do, and I bet you even know someone who’s also guilty of this. Someone who streams six sitcom episodes a night on Netflix yet still looks you in the eye and claims to not have TV.
Or maybe you do it, too. Maybe you’ve also joined the Age of Rationalization. If so, congrats. We should totally hang out. We have to stick together, you know.
Come on by sometime and we’ll not watch some TV.
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