Axing the Coaxial
Our introductory contract with the cable company ended after a year and they wanted to up our payments by over $50. Sorry, Charter, we need that fifty more than you do. We declined further TV service and let go of our land line. Internet is $55 per month; can’t see a way around that yet. We quit Verizon Mobile for Consumer Cellular and cut our cell phone bill from $120 to $52. Robo calls, telemarketers, are, so far, a thing of the past without a landline.
There have been a couple of times when the fax line might have been handy. It makes me crabby to use our cell phone minutes waiting on hold for, say, an insurance call center. But the TV? No problem, never watched it. When I watched author Carsen Taite’s Vlog at “Women and Words” about TV binges, she got me thinking.
Both my sweetheart and I used to watch TV. She worked long hours at her job before leaving the rat race to join me as a downwardly mobile West Coastie. TV was the perfect antidote to her thankless high pressure job. I kept away the lonesomes by paying bills, doing my taxes, brushing the animals while tuning in to Law and Order, Boston Legal, Gray’s Anatomy, and The Closer.
We did have a tradition of watching the New York Thanksgiving Day Parade while preparing our meal. On New Year’s Eve we liked to watch the ball drop at Times Square. This year we watched the Snoopy balloon and Anderson Cooper on line. There is even a way to receive a TV signals through our computers and broadcast it on a larger TV screen. But we haven’t bothered. Maybe we will by the time Ellen hosts the Oscars again.
I developed an aversion to TV as a kid. My father brought home the first one when I was five and soon that was the only thing the family did together on a regular basis. After a few years of that, I found myself getting angry while watching, or while others watched. TV had become an irritant. As a teenager I considered TV to be the drug of the masses, although I did watch old movies in the wee hours. In college I was usually the one to turn off the television in the dorm lounge, which otherwise would have droned 24/7. Into adulthood, just the sound of the infernal machine drives me bonkers. The flickering of the light, if I’m not looking directly at a screen, makes me nauseous.
Was all this the result of a lesbian childhood spent in the company of heterosexual parents? Do televisions trigger the anger born of that poor fit? Maybe. Or: I remember, at an early age, complaining to my mother about the ads. She explained that’s how the stations made money. I was having none of it and had a little eight year old socialist revolution. Then my father fashioned a “blab-off.” He attached a mysterious wire to the back of the console TV and put a toggle switch on his end. The sound of the ads blessedly disappeared. Now cable companies think we should pay fees and watch ads.
When I was living in Florida, every doctor’s office had a TV, usually controlled by staff and often set to FOX News or docu-ads. I saw a retina specialist periodically. It was crazy-making to sit in a waiting room trapped with other people half-blinded by dilation drops, a screen flickering above us, and the volume turned high for the hard of hearing seniors. Even more maddening was the acquiescence to this common visual and aural bombardment at the internist’s, the vet’s, the eye surgeon, the diagnostic lab.
Our television is draped with a rainbow flag. DVDs of TV seasons and movies have been sitting on shelves for years now, ready for viewing when we have time. We never do have time.
Instead, we play with our rocks, pictures, and books. We collect agates, petrified wood fossils, and jaspers on beach walks and pour over these beauties in the evening. My sweetheart is a natural archivist. She spends hours looking at and organizing photographs, content as a little kid. Or researching for fun. We both read our eyes out, as my Irish-American mother used to say, complaining that I read too much as a child, even though she’s the one who took me for my first library card.
The irony, of course, is that often we read on our Kindles. My sweetheart’s archiving is all done on line. We own two Kindles, three laptops, an HP Touch, a first gen iPad, two smart phones, and a Galaxy Tab 3. If their screens are not enough to make up for the loss of TV, as a last resort, our shelves hold about 5,000 books. Which is yet another reason we needed to ax the co-ax.