Creative television viewing vs. things never change


I would describe myself as someone rather predictable because I don’t ever change anything. My hair was styled for my daughter’s weddings the same way that it was styled for my own wedding which was exactly like I wore it in eighth grade. I have used the same perfume for the past 25 years and I’m sure I will do so until it is no longer produced.

My theory has always been: “If it works, why change it.” I don’t move my furniture. This has all created a very interesting “traffic pattern.” There is a distinct path from “my chair” to my sewing table. For Pastor Pete, there is a distinct path from “his chair” to the refrigerator.

I do have my carpet cleaned but a few months later, the same off-road trails begin to reappear. I could purchase new carpet, but that means I have to move all of the furniture “somewhere.”

I know that we have a “somewhere” in our house because that’s where everything ends up when I ask where something is. All of my missing forks, scissors and rulers are “somewhere.” Bill’s school bus pass and ID card are “somewhere.” Pastor Pete’s hammer and extra pair of glasses are “somewhere.” I don’t like to admit it, but I have a few items there too: my high school report cards, results of my last DMV written test and the plan of action for the extraction of my wisdom teeth are all “somewhere.”

Getting back to my gently used carpet …. Right now, replacing or having the carpet cleaned isn’t high on my to-do-list. Instead, I’ve decided to be pro-active. I’ve convinced Pastor Pete that the peanut shells that pop out of the carpet around his chair add ambiance when he is watching his Dodger games. He’s fine with that just like when he asked me why reading the newspaper had become so difficult now that he’s older. I told him that they now use darker paper and lighter ink.

There has been one modern invention that has helped extend the life of my carpet: the television remote control. It totally changed how we watched TV. No longer do we have a traffic pattern from our couch to the television.

I did question how my parents ever watched TV without a remote control but then I remembered that when I was in grade school, my parent’s TV remote control was whoever was closest to the television. It was never my father because “his chair” was across the room. There were only three main television networks and a few local so seldom was the channel changed, but when it was needed, all my dad had to say was, “Hey, change the channel for me.”

We would act as my father’s remote control “surfing the channels” to see what was on to watch. We would pause by Engineer Bill, Skipper Frank and the Mikey Mouse Club, but he wouldn’t say “stop” until he caught a glimpse of either Groucho Marx or Lawrence Welk.

Our Saturday night routine was always the same: dinner followed by a bath. After my bath, my mother would put my hair up in pin curls for church the next morning.

For those of you who do not know what pin curls are it’s when your mother buries her fingernail deep into your scalp, tightly twists your wet hair around her finger and secures it with a bobby pin – which has lost its plastic end covers so it is pure metal scraping against your scalp.

This is repeated at least 50 times or until your entire head is covered in pin curls. Next, this is all covered with a dish towel and that is secured with one of your little brother’s diaper safety pins and you are sent to bed to have a restful night’s sleep. Can we all repeat “restful?”

Once all of these rituals were accomplished, dad and we kids would gather to watch telvision while Mom polished our shoes for church the next morning.

The remainder of the evening would consist of dad having us turn the television to Lawrence Welk and we were all to settle-in for a night of quality television viewing. But invariably, dad would fall asleep 30 minutes into the show and we kids would take turns crawling quietly up to the television set, towel in hand to muffle the turning of the knob, with the dreams of watching an entire episode of Have Gun Will Travel followed by Gun Smoke. Sadly, seldom were we successful.

Now, over 60 years later, some things are the same and some things have changed. Just like my dad, Pastor Pete falls asleep watching the television, but if I even think about touching the remote, he wakes up. However, his choice of programs is different. His choice usually depends on what season it is. Right now, it’s football.

I will be watching one game when suddenly everything changes: uniforms, weather, and scores. Then a few minutes later, another change. I may be watching USC football and suddenly a Dodger is up to bat. That is followed by University of Nebraska only to be switched to a three-minute viewing of America’s Got Talent. When the commercial break comes, I find myself watching Wheel of Fortune and before Vanna can turn her last letter, I’m transported back to the first game. This is all within ten minutes.

This doesn’t even count the hours of Judge Judy that is saved on our DVD. He calls these “learning experiences.” If you ever need a lawyer, he’s available. But only if it concerns a dog, unpaid rent, or removing your neighbor’s trees.

He calls it “creative viewing.” I call it “some things never change!”