TV or Not TV

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Growing up, I had this aunt who seemingly prided herself on finding fault with everything. You know the type—we’d be watching a beautiful sunset and she’d point out that the ratio of magenta to yellow was off.

Nothing pleased her. Or satisfied her. Or got away without being judged and found wanting. I was her favorite target. I did nothing right my entire childhood—from not talking soon enough to never shutting up, from always being under foot to never being around when she needed me.

It was me, not Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2, who was b-b-b-b-bad to the bone.

In fact, the only thing worse than my existence was television. She was convinced that it would destroy what little brain I had and twist my perception of the world around me. The idiot box, she called it. That or the boob tube, which made puberty a whole other set of issues.

Another story for another time.

YA Author Tom Hoover on TV or Not TVSuffice it to say that my relationship with TV and TV shows was not like it was for other kids my age. While other kids went home when the street lights came on so they could curl up on the couch and watch Nick at Nite reruns of Happy Days or Charles in Charge, I stayed outside. Watching the flickering blue glow in their windows and imagining their brains drying up and leaving their skulls hollow husks. I wondered when the day would come when they’d try on a hat and their head would collapse because there was nothing inside it but static and dead air.

Long story short—my Aunt Edna did a number on me.

I still have a fear of hats.

And Happy Days.

I haven’t thought about her in a long time … until the other night. I was watching television—for work, I swear—when I started to notice a pattern of nonsense. There were things going on in the lives of the characters that were just too weird not to be questioned. So here are some observations:

  1. On TV, geniuses know intricate details of obscure trivia that not only would nobody know or care about, but that somehow is the missing link in a theft or murder. Like they can identify a shoe, including the year it was manufactured and the sex of the cow the leather came from, from a shoelace eyelet they find in a building full of smoldering rubble. Seriously? You’d think being geniuses, they’d have more interesting things to do than to study shoe lace eyelets. Why would they care about shoelace eyelets? And furthermore, who would write such a book for them to read in the first place? Who’d publish it? And why?
  2. On TV, the homely guy or girl is actually an Adonis once they change their hair or wear different clothes. I’ve been to Best Cuts—people leave with the same features they walked in with. A guy with a big nose has the same nose whether he gets a shag or a buzz cut.
  3. On TV, couples are always trying to prove each other wrong, to the exclusion of practically all else. Even when they team up to prove somebody else wrong, they can’t agree on how to contradict that person. How is this a basis for a healthy relationship? “Good morning, honey.” “Wrong again, toad-breath.” And then the music goes, “Wah, wah wah.” And they make googlie eyes at each other.

And I thought Aunt Edna was nuts.

Excuse me while I go kick a sunset.

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