Television was not as good as I expected.
That (or something very similar) is what my bride said after our weekend in San Antonio. Her comment amused me immensely. Since moving to north Texas about 3 years ago, we haven't had television in our home. I just realized that might have been the final nudge that created our empty nest. Anyway, we have a (relatively) small and dated (analog) TV sitting in our living room, but it is only used for movies that we watch at a rate of 1 every week or two. I find this lifestyle fantastic, but my bride has been hinting that maybe we've gone too far.
"We could be watching the Tour de France right now," she'd say with pretend concern for my entertainment needs.
Interestingly, my business trips fuel the conflict. While she is home, bored, and lonely, I'm off at some glamorous location. I'm dining in fine restaurants, and more importantly, watching TV when I get back to my hotel. Actually, I don't see much television when traveling. On those occasions when I do succumb to temptation in a box, I'm repulsed. Try it sometime. Pull the plug for 6 months or so, and try to watch it again. I think you will find the images move too fast, the noise is irritating, and the messages are insulting. You will see advertisements that make no sense, sitcoms that are pathetic, and content that appeals to the basest animal instincts in people. So I return home with the message, "We aren't missing anything of value," and more determined than ever.
Let me be fair. I do not want to suggest that there is zero value to television. I understand that there is some programming with value, that inspires the best in people, and is done well. I will not argue with you about the educational benefits and the advantages of monitoring current events. I suppose there are individuals that are very discerning and carefully plan their viewing habits. These people are adept at screening the trash and taking the treasure. But that is not me.
My approach to television viewing is much more casual. I come home tired, have nothing urgent that needs tending, and decide (absent-minded-ly) to sit for a few minutes and do a little channel surfing. So I flip from one channel to the next. I find that one program goes to a commercial break, so I investigate other options. I find something that promises to be entertaining, but am soon surprised by objectionable content. So I investigate other options. I change, and change, and change, because nothing satisfies. Nothing satisfies, but I keep searching. Out of 247 channels, there's GOT to be something great here. Hours later, still surfing, I give up, rub my red eyes, and go to bed. I'm quite sure that I'm the only one who does this. If others were as pathetic as me, they would have given up on TV like I have.
"I wonder how those Texas Rangers are doing? If we had TV, we could be watching them...right now!"...is what she says when I come back home from my trip.
I'd respond, "Look, I tried the TV thing in (insert glamorous city here), and you won't believe how horrible it is." Then I'd add, "If you were to watch it again after so much time away, you'd find it lacking."
So we planned a weekend in San Antonio. I had a couple of days of business, and she drove down to spend the weekend with me there. When friends asked what we had planned, I'd joke that we'd probably prop the pillows against the wall, sit on the bed, and watch television. I still think that she secretly wanted to get in at least a little TV time on the itinerary. In reality, we did a lot of walking along the famous Riverwalk and around the downtown area. After dinner, we'd return to the room, longing to put our feet up, and..."Where's the remote?".
So it was with hysterical amusement that I mentally processed her quote last night.
I love my quiet home. I love my books. I love my bride.
Now if could just do something about the subtle temptation of the internet...