2008.04.02 Strange news on the TV

Written by David Green.


I walked past the kitchen table on my way to the dining room the other day and noticed the spread out pile of papers, newspapers, junk mail, magazines, catalogs—all on my side of the table.

“Look at that mess of paper!” I exclaimed, shocked that it had accumulated so quickly.

“At least it’s not rocks or scissors,” said David.

I was in the dining room by the time his quick quip registered. I laughed out loud and instantly felt better about my cluttered mess. A pile of rocks would be a bigger problem.

David’s side of the table is pretty clear, but that’s because all his magazines and newspapers are piled on the chair next to his. He doesn’t open junk mail and he rarely shops, so he doesn’t have the additional heap of credit card offers, catalogs and coupons I have.

I don’t really even have that many coupons, but there are a few floating around. I mostly find couponing a waste of my time since there are so few coupons for the products I buy. And I hate to be tempted by coupons and buy products I don’t really need and that I wouldn’t have wanted to buy if I hadn’t seen the coupon.

I know, that’s just another thing that sets me apart from the rest of America. Sometimes I feel almost un-American since I’m not an avid coupon queen.

And, sometimes I feel I am not really of this world. I watched the miserable Michigan State versus Memphis NCAA tournament basketball game Friday night and, too lazy to turn off the TV, I ended up watching the local newscast from Toledo that came on next. What a bizarre experience.

I rarely watch TV newscasts; I rarely even turn the TV on at all except to watch movies. When I was a young mother, we didn’t have a TV—at least not a working one. I was always afraid I would get hooked on soap operas or game shows and ignore my kids. It was easier to just not have one.

David had an old black and white model, a cast-off from his parents, I think. It pretty much just showed snow and sat in the basement until we gave Ben permission to bring it upstairs and take it apart.

That act followed an embarrassing incident of motherhood. A cable company representative had come to the door wanting to sell us a cable subscription. Ben overheard me telling him we didn’t have a TV.

“Yes, we do!” he yelled, contradicting me. “It’s in the basement!”

I had to backpedal with the cable guy, who I think believed Ben more than he believed me.

I figured that was a fine time to let Ben tinker with the inner workings of a television. Pretty soon, we really didn’t have a television.

Back to that Friday night newscast.

I think the newscast might have started with a frightening story about a Florida woman who stole a newborn baby from a hospital nursery by putting the baby in a tote bag and walking out of the hospital.

There was another segment on a mother who ignored the cries of her three-year-old daughter being abused by the mother’s friends, one of whom filmed the abuse on a cell phone. The TV station showed the video and interviewed the insolent mother, who didn’t think she had done anything wrong.

Then there was a segment about a mother who had sex with a teen—her daughter’s friend. The reporter noted that the daughter said her mother had done this before.

My head was spinning. It was all as unbelievable as the ridiculous pounding State took against Memphis.

Lest you think something’s out of whack with motherhood in this country, there was  also a segment that fully balanced out the other three stories. This one was about a man who had sex with his picnic table,  umbrella removed from the center hole and the table turned on its side—outdoors, in the nude, at least four times between January and March.

It almost makes the Spartans’ loss seem normal.

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