There’s nothing more telling of a society’s priorities than condolences. Not just any condolences. Condolences that arrive during nontragic times.
In 2003, I asked a hairstylist for a Heidi Klum ’do and left the salon with mall bangs. Friends bowed their heads.
While living in Phoenix in 1998, my car’s AC went out. It was mid-July. Co-workers clutched their chests.
And right now, in 2013, I don’t have cable TV. Go ahead and start a Facebook memorial page.
This news has caused friends and family to do everything but take turns making me casseroles.
Reactions have ranged from “Home Alone” facial expressions to that weird silence where the person looks away and goes into deep thought. No doubt they’re thinking, “If it could happen to her ... ”
That’s the thing. People perceive this as something horrible that happened to me. Not something I consciously chose.
The way they see it, this frightful news comes down to two things: Money must be tight or homegirl must be weird.
Yes and duh. But that’s not what caused me to surprise even the customer service rep who, when asking why I was disconnecting the service, provided me three options with which to answer: moving, finances or an alternate cable provider.
Hoping to regain signs of life in my brain didn’t make the list.
With my husband away for the summer, my personal crystal ball showed me three months of remote control fondling. The goal was to, instead, have three months of reading and writing. Isn’t ambition cute?
The writing is coming along just fine. That can happen when you put your tweets under the writing umbrella.
The reading poses its own challenges. Such as reading.
Give me a horrible TV show that has the word “Wives” in the title and nothing can distract me. Not burning dinner on the stove or crying babies in the nursery, neither of which ever happen in my undomestic, childless house, but you get it.
Where books are concerned, it has to be nothing short of an excellent read; otherwise it provides as much engagement as a Ring Pop.
Also unlike TV, there is no guiltless switching of channels with this medium. Giving up on a book, for me, represents some kind of epic injustice to literature. It’s not unlike the book bonfire the townspeople of the classic film “Footloose” started. In fact, it’s just like that.
The TV hiatus also brings with it a deep sense of “missing out.” Take the NBA Finals, for instance. Ever watched dots bounce across a basketball-court graphic image on ESPN.com as tweets and texts are pouring in from people watching actual basketball players?
The spoilers, sans spoiler alerts, via social media on Sundays weren’t fun, either. iTunes didn’t offer “Mad Men” episodes until 12:01 a.m. the next day. A certain fan discovered what Sally saw and what Don and Betty did before 12:01 a.m. the next day.
Picture the grounded neighborhood kid watching his friends slide across a Slip ’N Slide in his front yard and you’ll know the deprivation caused by cablelessness.
Of course, it wouldn’t be so hard if the husband weren’t alone in a new city right now, his flat-screen TV his one and only companion. He recently sent me a text urging me to change it to the Discovery Channel “right now!” That was followed by an apology text: “Oops. Forgot.” And a phone call, detailing the insane tightrope walk over the Grand Canyon he wanted me to see.
We talked briefly the other night and he wanted to know if I caught Friday’s “Dateline” because it was the “best one” he’s “ever seen.” Again, after realizing the gaffe, he offered his sincerest apologies. “I’m so sorry.” “What is wrong with me?” “It won’t happen again.”
He sounded like a friend apologizing for turning a widow’s thoughts to her dead husband. Except the only thing that’s died is my cable TV.
Contact Xazmin Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter @startswithanx.