Earlier this week I did something I’ve wanted to do for, say, fifty-five years. No, not kiss Paul McCartney. Not discover a star subsequently named for me, or tame a wild horse a la National Velvet, or even trounce my little brother in an argument (without resorting to biting him). This week I–actually ate dinner on a fold-out tray, while watching TV!
My family worshipped at the altar of the idiot box. My father bought our first set in 1951–probably among the First on the Block. So many of my childhood memories are tied to TV shows. All those Sunday nights gathered around Disney’s Wonderful World of Color (which we watched in black and white for years). How many Saturday afterno0ns did we while away watching World War 2 movies? “Up scope,” intoned the captain of the submarine, and I’d shiver in fear. I was likewise terrified by those blood thirsty Indians who were always menacing innocent women in bonnets, and by the evil-doers in “Superman. ” How could it take me so long to figure out the same guys won every time? My friends and I played “Three Stooges” and, later, “Dr. Kildare” (I was so excellent at dying.) Miserable afternoons when I’d come home from ninth grade, the ugliest and least popular girl in the universe, to slump in front of reruns of “Dobie Gillis” and “Gilligan’s Island” (even as I type those words I’m fighting off the theme song ear worm). Watching the Beatles on “Ed Sullivan”, I began to cry, and my brother made fun of me, and my mother told him to be quiet this minute, which I still love her for.
But there was one hard and fast rule: no TV during dinner. Not even when we ate actual TV dinners, which made no sense whatsoever. Like so many of the rules I hated as a child, this one stuck with me. I’d no more watch the news while we eat than I would put my shoes up on the couch or fail to write a thank you note.
Except that the other night–I did! Not at my own house, of course, so the rule did not apply. My friend and I ate salads and watched several episodes of “Girls”, a show so graphic, hideous and hilarious in its depictions of sex that we both kept yelling, “No! No, please!”, then pouring more wine. The show is a complete fantasy with no relevance to the lives my own 20-something daughters are living, right? Right? My girlfriend and I have a date to do this again very soon.
Next up: wearing stripes and polka dots together.