We chose not to have TV reception for the past 8 months and were feeling somewhat pleased about it. Recently at a garage sale, Katie and I met a retired woman who said she hasn’t had a TV for over 20 years. We were impressed. She had definitely earned a certain amount of status in the eyes of other “children of the 60’s”. Well, last week in a moment of weakness, I called Cox Cable, gave them our credit card number and signed up for cable TV. What led to my downfall you ask?
Katie has been in Hawaii visiting relatives for the past two weeks and I’ve been home alone with many very long, quiet days and nights stretched out before me. And, I reasoned, technically I’m not a child of the 60’s, but a child of the 50’s, so those “giving up the TV” rules may not actually apply to me. I remember when my family first got a TV set in around 1953. It was an exciting day. There weren’t too many TV’s around at the time and our new acquisition became a neighborhood event. I used to live for Saturday mornings; The Howdy Doody Show, Fury, Sky King and The Lone Ranger, and evenings with the family watching Gunsmoke, The Ed Sullivan Show and Andy Griffith. Andy and Matt Dillon were like father figures to me along with Robert Young, Fred MacMurray and Ozzie Nelson. And before I entered High School or went out on a date, I got valuable tips watching Ricky Nelson, Tony Dow, and Tim Consadine successfully go before me.
The main reason I gave in to the temptation of TV was that the 82nd Academy Awards were coming up and I really wanted to watch it. I’ve probably missed the Oscars a few times in my life, but not many. Movies have always been a big part of my life. There was only one Movie Theater in Ferguson, Missouri where I grew up, the Savoy. An older boy accompanied me the first time I was allowed to go without adult supervision. It was a double feature, The first movie was The Blob. It came to Earth in a meteor as a small blob, but quickly grew bigger and bigger the more people it consumed. During the scene where it oozed through the vents of a movie theater, I thought I might actually die of fright and then my parents would get really upset. I can’t remember the name of the other movie, but it involved scary looking creatures with two big veins running down their front. Like the Blob, they also attacked and devoured humans. Unlike the Blob, which had to be frozen and wasn’t fazed by guns or artillery, these creatures could be shot. When they were shot, they melted into what looked like liquid pizza.
Just like the rest of the kids at the matinee, my friend and I bought snacks before going in. We shared a box of popcorn and I got for myself a giant square of fudge. The second movie was in living color and before it ended I had to run outside to avoid upchucking all over the kid in the seat in front of me. I didn’t return to see the end of the movie but thought it wise to stay outside in the fresh air. My friend filled me in on how the Army came to the rescue and killed all the monsters. Secretly I was glad I left when I did. This experience, however, did not dissuade me from going back to the movies. I remember deciding that I needed to choose my movie snacks more carefully. If the movie was going to be about disgusting, oozing, gelatinous monsters, I probably should pass on the fudge. I follow that rule to this day.
I don’t know if we will continue to receive cable TV in the near future, but the Academy Awards are on tonight and I’m ready. I’ve only seen a few of the movies, but I’m rooting for The Hurt Locker for best film and Kathryn Bigelow best director, Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart for best actor and Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia for best actress even though she’s won a gillion times. I will be disappointed if Avatar wins everything, but I did think it was very entertaining. I liked looking around at the audience during the movie because we all looked like Buddy Holly impersonators. Also I hope Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin are good hosts. Steve Martin did a good job in the past, but my favorite hosts were Bob Hope, Johnny Carson and Billy Crystal.