Friday, October 23, 2009

U-verse Installation Day

Do you realize what day it is today? Hold the mail, close the bank, cancel school, this is on par with any national holiday; we are getting television.

No, not buying a new flat screen, but subscribing to cable. Jim and I have prided ourselves on this intentional absence in our family room for the past 15 years. I don't want to know who Lil Wayne is; I'm not at all interested in Sex in the City; we have actually asked hotels to remove the blasted box from our rooms (they don't). Why have we caved?

It has become a safety issue.

Hard as it is to believe (if you haven't met my persistent, persuasive, relentless son), his compulsion for remote controls and unlimited access to Barney have led us to take drastic measures. Last week, given 10 minutes unsupervised, he fled to a neighbor's house (1/4 mile away) to access their channels and remote. Thankfully and to my great relief as I barrelled north on a train to LA, he chose a trusted neighbor from our church who was home and had my cell number. Nonetheless, it was dangerously close to an encounter with Child Protective Services or worse.

He carries and sleeps with a printed image of a Comcast remote like the one from Natty's Nantucket house. He intercepts AT & T bills from other people's mail, calls the 800 number to subscribe, and has changed our home machine outgoing message to say, "Sprout please..." We are blue in the face, trying to explain why buying a remote from CVS is not the same thing as subscribing to a system. Trust me, it's debilitating.

Another day after school, he wanted to "get the cable on the ground." Unclear what he meant, but always reasonable, I agreed to take the dog for a walk to the "corner by Vons" so he could show me what he meant. As we approached, his literal thinking and my empathy clicked. I saw the pathetic, sad truth of how desperate he is for a boob tube. He was returning to a spot he'd eyeballed earlier in the week: utility boxes announcing "Underground Cable."

He'd told the dog on the way, "you'll be good at digging." As he bent down, scraping wood chips and debris away, I could only wonder what he expected to uncover. A Narnian room like the s
econd floor of Sears? A tunnel of working Comcast remote controls? A subterranean utopia of KPBS on demand?

I had to laugh as a friend drove by and yelled "hello" out her Tahoe window, "what are you doing?" I casually and truthfully echoed back, "oh just digging for underground cable."

It's a good thing people know me. I'd hate to be new in town at this point.

So it is that we have opened our mind to a different possible solution. Could we, in our intentional insulation from media, be responsible for fueling this obsession? By making it unattainable, are we increasing the allure of television? If watching television were more readily available, would it lose it's cache?

We shall see. Jim has also suggested that if Reid knew some other more age appropriate shows, he might diversify from the Barney fetish. Could the Food Network usurp Sprout in popularity? Given the chance, wouldn't Discovery Channel speak for itself?

AT&T arrives at noon to begin installation. To say Reid can hardly wait is a gross understatement. Jim is out of town. Why does this feel like a giant step forward for Reid and an acre of ground lost for Jim and I? Have I completely burned out and compromised my standards? Not really. We remain open to reverse psychology and God working in mysterious ways.

Perhaps, in addition to the 2 TV Rules, I will laminate this next to the cabinet.

This is a test. This is only a test. For the next thirty days, we will see if we can engage interest beyond Barney the purple dinosaur. This is only a test. If this becomes an actual endorsement of network news, pop culture, and graphic violence, you will be instructed how to tune back into peace and family time in your area.


  1. I love it! I love the idea of it being a test. But I agree, it is a love/hate product. I try to keep it off as much as possible, but sometimes it is a good thing. When I'm taking a shower, it is a good babysitter the preschooler.

  2. You had me snorting at "Sprout please"!

    We went for a long time without cable, too. Rhema has no interest in TV, but Hope does, and she gets her dose of Dora in the evenings. Let us know how the test goes! You know, there are a couple christian/gospel music channels. Reid can see me - I mean, Nicole C. Mullen - singing up a storm!

    A, I have missed you and your writing! So good to read you again. Love ya!