'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
RADICAL RESOLUTION: NO BOOB TUBE
I’m toying with the idea of making a drastic New Year’s resolution. But I have to be very careful. I made a drastic resolution one other time in my life, and I got a lot more than I bargained for.
It was New Year’s Day, 1985. While nursing a hangover and watching the Rose Bowl Parade, I suddenly vowed to quit drinking for the entire month of January. It wasn’t that I thought sucking down a case of beer every night was necessarily a bad thing, but it was starting to cause some problems. I figured going one full month without booze would help me save a little money, lose a little weight, and allow me to wake up in the morning refreshed for a change.
To my surprise, a single month of sobriety turned into 19 years and counting. That one impulsive New Year’s resolution had some far-reaching effects—not all of them good. Sure, my wife didn’t leave me, I was able to hold down a job, I no longer misplaced my car, and my liver did not turn into a crusty lump of yellow Play-Doh. But on the down side, I no longer felt comfortable doing my famous lampshade-hat dance in front of total strangers.
This year, the drastic resolution I am considering is to quit watching TV for the entire month of January.
OK, I’ll give you a moment to recover from the shock of that statement and climb back onto your chair.
Yes, you heard me right. (Actually, if you heard me while reading the newspaper, maybe you’ve been drinking a little too much yourself.) I really think it might be beneficial to give up television for a month.
It’s not that I think staring at the tube for hours on end every night is necessarily a bad thing, but it’s starting to cause some problems. I figure going a full month without TV will help me save a little money (“Ooh, I need to go buy something, anything, at Circuit City”); lose a little weight (“Ooh, I need to try those new chocolate-covered Pork Rinds”); and allow me to wake up in the morning refreshed for a change (“Ooh, I need to stay up for the ‘Laverne and Shirley’ marathon starting at midnight”). I’m not sure, but I think TV might be turning my brain into a crusty lump of gray Play-Doh.
Now, I realize giving up TV will not be easy. It may even be harder than giving up drinking. After all, I abused alcohol for about a decade, but I’ve been addicted to television since the moment of birth. (There was a TV in the hospital delivery room, and when the doctor slapped my butt I didn’t cry, instead I said, “Hey doc, move out of the way. I’m trying to watch Sid Caesar.”)
No television means I’ll be without my primary source of critical information. What will I do if I can’t keep up with Michael Jackson’s legal troubles; Brittany Spears’ Tramp-of-the-Month outfit; lame sitcoms; embarrassing reality shows; Peter Jennings’ snide anti-American comments; local weathermen interrupting regular programming to tell me that yes indeed, it’s still snowing; and the Bulgarian badminton semi-finals on ESPN2?
Hmm, on second thought, maybe I can survive without that kind of information. However, there still will be a major problem if I stop watching TV: what will I do with all that free time?
I’m trying to come up with some radical ideas to fill time, things which are completely against the grain of our modern culture. First, I’ll try something very rare: I’ll get a good night’s sleep. Next, I plan to do something even more bizarre: have conversations with my family, including, possibly, complete sentences. Finally, and I know this one is really off-the-wall, I just may read a book. I hear they still make them.
In a few weeks I’ll report on how it’s going without the tube. That is, unless it turns out to be so painful I start drinking again.
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