Flipping Channels: A Harsher Reality

A short piece I wrote and published on my deviantart account which you can find here: http://fungi-portal.deviantart.com/

“Hey mom, can I talk to you for a second?”

Silence.

“Mom? It’s important!”

“Shh, just wait until the commercial break,” she says, turning up the volume on the television set. It’s not the first time I’ve found my parents zombie-fied in front of the television, their eyes glazed over, not paying attention to the world around them.

Down to the second, their lives are planned around the primetime television schedule. Six-thirty, dinner time. Seven o’clock, Jeopardy, double feature. Eight sharp, any interchangeable crime show (The Mentalist, Castle, Bones, etc…). Nine o’clock, NCIS or Elementary, whatever is on. And so it goes.

Last year, I wanted to tell my mother that I had a boyfriend. Unfortunately I was interrupting “the-more-you-know” sequence on NCIS, cutting in on Abby’s witty repartee. All she could say was “just wait until the commercial break”. Even then, the TV was still on full volume.

So I left the room.

At least once a week, I can hear the television blaring in the living room from the kitchen. A fork halfway to my mouth, I cast a disparaging look at my parents before rushing to turn it off. Since when did this become acceptable? When did we stop our nightly gatherings in the den, listening to the soft French romantic-era music playing in the background, the barely audible click-click of my sister’s knitting needles, the jack-hammer snores of my father lying on the couch in a wine-induced stupor? When did they schedule their nightly brain-melt and slip into the world of television where the suspense is sugar-coated in the raisins I find between the pillows on the couch?

Sometimes my mother will go to bed at 11 but, most nights, after the myriad of television shows has slowed, they’ll pop in a DVD. Usually a British mystery drama. Last year they went on an Agatha Christie kick and every night was for Inspector Poirot or Miss Marple. This year’s marathon was Woody Allen films, from his first appearance in What’s New Pussycat, to a triple viewing of Midnight in Paris.

There is an ever-changing stack of movies next to the television at all times. Often some arbitrary films that my mother chose at the library that morning amidst the hundreds and hundreds of DVDs in their catalog or past seasons of tv series no longer on air. Campion. Due South. M*A*S*H.

It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t like the movie, she’ll stay on the couch, taking up the corner space that I want to curl up in. So I go upstairs and pull out my laptop.

Eleven o’clock, Community marathon. Midnight, Firefly reruns…

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