I broke down and bought a television set and a Roku box. I feel like a traitor. It is as if I joined the Republican Party. I haven’t watched television since I was seventeen. I think of it as mindless heteronormative entertainment.
In theory, I bought the TV for Donna. She is housebound, nursing a broken ankle. In February, when she was recuperating from open heart surgery, we curled up together on the couch and watched movies on my iPad mini. It was cozy, but the iPad mini screen is tiny. The new TV is a 32″ diagonal. It looks big to me, even from the couch. By American standards, 32″ is small.
I have to reconcile myself with owning a television set, even if I am not signing up for 500 reality channels. I already have Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus on my iPad; I will probably sign up for 30 free days of Netflix. I keep telling myself I traded up from the 7.9″ iPad mini screen to a 32″ monitor. I’m still watching only what I choose to watch. I’m not watching the Kardashians.
I’m not a TV person. I’m a recovering stereophile (music equipment geek). My distaste for TV was made obsolete by streaming. Streaming blurred the line between computers, stereos, radios, televisions, cameras, and phones. Digital media corrupted my identity. Another victory for the binary.
My idealized self is a serious reader. In my fantasies, I read The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and The Nation – cover to cover. I read while sitting at my kitchen table or on a bench in the sun drinking a thermos of coffee with a well-behaved dog laying at my feet. I am always in the middle of an interesting book, and I remember minute details of books I read 10 years ago.
The trite reality is that these publications pile up, collect dust, and get thrown out, sometimes without me even leafing through them. I get annoyed that most of the articles are written by white guys who are barely alive. Their stories don’t hold my interest. I don’t even have a kitchen table to read at. I have a window ledge and a stool to perch on. I can balance my coffee but I can’t spread out the paper. I get my news from NPR. When I try to sit outside and read, Gracie nudges me for attention or barks at the pigeons. I can’t concentrate.
I have an ever-growing stack of books I want to read. I no longer remember the names of the books I read last year or who authored them. I have some serious reading sweaters with well-worn elbows and suede patches. I can master the tweedy look, but I’m only fooling myself. It just looks like I’m reading.
It took less than an hour to set up the TV, hook up the Roku box, and link my internet accounts to it. I tested it by clicking on the first icon that came up on Hulu. I ended up watching a short segment of South Park. The episode with Caitlyn Jenner. This is why I hate TV. I didn’t want to laugh at it, but it was simultaneously funny and offensive. I turned it off. I’d rather be bored. I don’t want to be a party to making fun of what another trans person’s body looks like.
Well meaning friends have suggested movies, PBS shows, and BBC mini-series for us to watch. I have a list and a queue set up. I’m in charge of the remote.
Donna is fine as long as she is sitting still. She can’t transfer from the wheelchair to the couch, bed, or commode without help. Gracie and I will be mostly housebound with her. We are going to snuggle up and watch TV. I still hope to sneak in some reading.