Recently, I sat next to someone at a dinner party, and after we’d finished the obligatory “So, what do you do? Oh, you sell insurance? How interesting!”, the inevitable silence followed in which both of us searched desperately for something to talk about.
“What do you do on the weekends?” he eventually asked.
I grabbed the lifeline with gratitude. “I watch TV!”
He frowned a little and I couldn’t help but wonder if it would be rude of me to suggest he get a little Botox. “Oh,” he said. “I find TV such a waste of time. It’s just all trash!”
Now, I like to think of myself as a fairly gentle person. I help little old ladies cross the road. I always stop to admire a well-kept garden, and I never pass up the opportunity to say hello to all the dogs I walk by. I turn the other way when I see a badly dressed person, and I always stand up and give up my seat on the train to a pregnant woman.
But as my kindergarten teacher, Miss Anna-Rhett Holliday, a genteel woman from South Carolina, used to say when someone was rude to her, “Them’s fightin’ words!”
And in my books, telling me that TV is a waste of time and that it’s all trash sure qualifies as fightin’ words. So, of course, at that dinner party, right in the middle of the main course of damp roast chicken and a rather tasteless bulgur salad, I bristled. At the other end of the table, Saffy said she felt the temperature of the air drop five degrees.
“I don’t watch any TV,” the guy went on.
“Oh?” I said icily. “What do you do then?”
“I read. I read a lot. But I only read non-fiction.”
“And what do you have against fiction?”
“And what do you have against fiction?”
“I don’t see the point of it. We live in the real world, not some fantasy la-la land, so why waste time reading about things that aren’t real?”
I smiled tightly and turned to the girl on my left who was picking at her chicken. We talked about the Kardashians for the rest of the evening.
Later, as we were in the cab zooming home, it was all Saffy and I could talk about. “Oh my God, are there really people like that out there?” my flat-mate asked. “They don’t watch TV?”
“But why? There’s just so much good stuff to watch!”
“Don’t tell me that,” I huffed.
If I ever committed a crime, there wouldn’t be any need to send me to prison. To really punish me, all you would need to do to is to take away my TV set.
Because, if it’s not already clear, I live and die by TV.
Someone once asked me what my idea of heaven was, and I said it would be having a massage with a TV right below the massage bed where your head sticks into the hole.
I recently spent the entire weekend holed up at home with a DVD box set marathon of Damages, seasons two, three and four. And who can forget that epic week when I watched all forty-six episodes of Maggie Q kicking butt in seasons one and two of Nikita?
Recently, Amanda said that I had to start watching Breaking Bad, but I hesitated. “I’ve still got six seasons of The Sopranos lined up,” I said weakly, “right next to five seasons of The Wire. Right now, I’m in the middle of season eight of Grey’s Anatomy. I don’t think I have a spare second left.”
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Amanda said firmly. “It’s Oh My God So Good! I’m calling in sick tomorrow, just so I can get to the end of season three!”
“I’m on season two right now, so don’t tell me what happens!” Saffy instructed.
Saffy also thinks the solution is for us to buy another two TV and DVD sets, line them up with our existing TV, and play a different show on each. “That way we’ll be able to get through it all three times as fast!”
Of course, our list of must-watch TV just keeps growing. We recently discovered Game of Thrones, The Borgias, Revenge and Person of Interest. We each have a little notebook in which we keep track of what we’ve seen, but it’s all a bit like trying to catch spilling grains of rice. It’s starting to get overwhelming.
“Think of all the great shows we’re going to miss when we’re dead!” Amanda said the other day.
Saffy’s bosom inflated. “I know! Really, who has time to read a book?”