'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)
TV BLACKOUT IS PAINFUL EXPERIENCE
A few weeks ago I discussed my desire to make a radical New Year’s resolution: give up watching TV for the entire month of January. I also promised to offer an update in mid-January on how it’s going so far without the tube. Well, this is the update, and I hope there are not too many misspelled words in this column, because it’s very hard to type accurately when you are weeping—something I’ve been doing quite often since January began.
Actually, I didn’t stop watching TV the very moment January began, because—and I guess I should have seen it coming—January began this year with New Year’s Day. And as everyone knows, New Year’s Day has two of the most beloved annual traditions in all of television: the Rose Bowl Parade and 37 consecutive football games.
So my TV prohibition began promptly on January 2nd. Because it was a Friday, and very busy at work, I hardly even thought about watching TV that day—maybe only 30 or 40 times. Another reason I didn’t miss watching TV too much that day was because I had just completed my annual Holiday Season Tube Marathon, which included not only the Rose Bowl Parade and 37 consecutive football games, but also nine showings of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” seven different versions of “A Christmas Carol,” the special Christmas episode of every prime-time sitcom and drama program, and 624 sporting events (not counting the 37 consecutive football games on January 1st).
As I went to bed on the evening of January 2nd, I thought giving up TV would be easy. But January 2nd was followed by—and I guess I should have seen it coming—January 3rd, a Saturday and one of the most beloved annual traditions in all of television: the first weekend of the NFL playoffs, an event billed as “The Greatest Weekend in NFL History…At Least Since Last Weekend…And Until Next Weekend.”
Even though my favorite team, the New York Giants, finished two notches below Miss Porter’s School in the final regular season standings, and were not allowed to be present at any playoff game—even as spectators—I was frantic at the idea of not being able to watch.
I realized I had to get out of the house and away from the television set. So I did something I had never done before, I volunteered to go grocery shopping for my wife. She gave me her shopping list (right after regaining consciousness) and I headed out to the store.
After wandering around the store for an hour, I had not located a single item on my wife’s list. I finally called her on the cell phone and she explained the main reason I was having trouble was due to the fact there are no deli counters or canned soup aisles at Circuit City.
As the days slowly progressed (have you ever noticed how dark and cold and long the month of January truly is?), I became more accustomed to life without TV. By the second week of January the number of times I collapsed onto the floor, in the fetal position and sobbing, was reduced drastically—only once or twice per hour.
The key to surviving without television is to keep one’s mind busy. A very helpful distraction for me has been a particular building downtown, its name escapes me right now, which is filled with books. They even let you borrow the books as long as you promise to bring them back in a couple of weeks. Quite a fascinating place. I wonder if other communities have similar buildings?
Anyway, I’ve been without TV for over three weeks now, but I still have a long way to go because—and I guess I should have seen it coming—this year the month of January has 31 days.
Thankfully, this year THE most beloved tradition in all of television, the Super Bowl, takes place on February 1st. I’ll probably tune in for a while.
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