Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ten O'Clock Spot

"Everyone has a purpose in life.
Perhaps yours is watching television."
—David Letterman

Little kids have bedtime stories and lullabies; I have late-night TV. It started when I was about ten. From my bedroom downstairs I waited for the ice to clink, the Coca-Cola to sizzle, and I'd know my parents were relaxing to Jack Paar. By that time of night they were mellow enough that I could slink down the hall and stand behind them coyly without a reprimand. Eventually they'd acknowledge my presence and I'd finally get a sip of coke before I smoothly joined them on the couch. It was our bonding time. The little kids were in bed and we grown-ups laughed at racy jokes I didn't even get.

Jack Paar became Johnny Carson, then Dave Letterman and I'm still chuckling. The magic of late-night is that anything seems pretty funny. Re-runs are mindless and calming. I've had a whole slew of bedtime shows: Time Goes By, Fresh Fields, Streets of San Francisco, M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frazier, Seinfeld—I can listen to any episode with my eyes closed and picture the action. I can start watching a M*A*S*H, go into the bathroom, and still laugh at the remembered joke at the appropriate time, even though I'm in the shower, so that when I get out, I'm totally up-to-speed. These are life-skills I've developed by devoting my nights to television.

Bedtime routines stick with you. I can recite Madeline, and Donald Duck's Toy Train thirty years later—they were our kid's favorites. Their bedtime shows included The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie. When a TV show ends Dee still chants, "Mom! Can't we watch the scenes?" in memory of the days when staying up two more minutes was the ultimate goal of the kids we were so anxious to tuck into bed.

A friend of mine thinks televisions were invented to watch the Olympics every four years and the rest of the time they should be stashed in the storage room as a mind-hazard. She would be appalled reading this post. But I don't think TV is that bad. Without it I would know nothing about the Korean War, for instance. Or Boston Nightlife. Or anti-dentites . . . Would you?


diane said...

I also sneaked out of bed to watch Johnny Carson. But, I hid behind the couch. Now I set the sleep timer. I am addicted. Here's Johnny.

gab said...

The M*A*S*H theme song was my favorite lullaby for years. I honestly missed it when I grew up and moved away.

Polly said...

i can't live without nighttime TV. I agree....any of the favorite oldies are like a lullaby. Any problem can be laughed away as I fall asleep with my friends in TV land.

The Grandmother Here said...

A big thank you to the person who invented the DVR so we can watch LOST later after the home teachers leave.

Christie said...

I love TV, though it's unfortunate that I married a man who does not care for it at all. Except for M*A*S*H, Seinfeld, and now the office, of course.

Good thing he travels all the time.

Alisha said...

HI! in my reader I received a BEAUTIFUL quote about peace. I can't find it on here, wanted to comment and ask if you knew who to attribute it to. I'd love to pass it along, but I want to give proper credit. THANKS!