Five things I've learned from television
Well, other than the cool TV Squad gig, that is. That goes without saying.
What I have are life lessons learned from television, as well as some obscure bits of knowledge I may have overlooked had I led the scholarly life without television in my life.
So, I plan to share these tidbits of knowledge, a few of the life lessons I've been privy to over decades of wasted er ... wisely spent hours of television viewing. Right now, I'll go for five things, but who knows? My television learning days are still ongoing, as all learning should be.1. I know I've mentioned this before, but I can't stress it enough. From several shows, in particular the Law and Order franchise shows -- get a cat, not a dog. You never see Fluffy the mutant Siamese cat's owners coming across dead bodies in an alley or Central Park, do you? No. Fluffy is home ingesting her catnip, sleeping in the window, scratching her litter out of its box. But, unless you yourself are the killer, there shouldn't be any dead bodies in your home for her to find. And, if you're a killer, your cat finding dead bodies in your home probably isn't the biggest problem you face in life.
But Fido the rough tough Pomeranian just has to go for walks and find those dead bodies, doesn't he? He starts barking so much that even if the owners try to avoid getting involved, a crowd gathers. Then the owners have to talk with the uniforms, then the flatfoots question them some more. Then the owners are late to work, lose their jobs and have to go on unemployment before they can secure new jobs. And why is all of this? It's because they chose a dog and not a cat as the family pet. Yep, I learned it from Law and Order.
2. Somewhere, not in my own life, all the phone numbers have a 555 exchange. Yes, it must be true! I can't even narrow it down to one specific show. I must be out of the loop because I know no one with a 555 phone number exchange.
Well, there's Jenny's number -- 867-5309. But that's music and an entirely different thing altogether. I feel shunned that I don't know anyone with a 555 exchange. Am I not one of the cool kids? Am I not in with the in crowd? If not for television, I wouldn't even know that a secret society of 555 phone exchangers exist. Huh. It's kind of like mole people or something.
3. Archie Bunker from All in the Family gave me some food for thought. Oh, no ... I don't mean new and creative uses for the words dingbat and meathead, nor do I mean bigoted expressions. I can think of one of the life lessons right off the cuff.
If you're awakened by a fire in your home, do you put on a sock and a shoe on one foot first or do you try for two socks, then two shoes? Oh, my. Archie had a point. If you put on one sock and one shoe, you could hop out of the home on one foot. With Mike's idea of putting on both socks and then both shoes, POOF. You could die in the fire due to the delay or have to run over hot embers with socked feet. Oh, geez. This is perplexing. Sometimes I put on both socks, then both shoes. But other times I go for one completed foot at a time. I don't know how I'd react in a fire. I do know that this episode will strike my mind if I'm ever in a fire situation. Heck, I'd probably go for my fuzzy bunny slippers. That would solve that one even if it made the neighbors gossip about my sanity or lack thereof. I credit television for giving me a game plan in the event of a crisis.
4. As a young child, Leave it to Beaver taught me how to fake baths. Yes, watching Wally and the Beaver dampen their towels, splash some water in the tub along with a handful of dirt, wet the washcloths ... I too could fool my parents. Now, mind you, I'm not sure why I wanted to fake baths. I actually kind of liked them.
So what has this little lesson done for my life? Well, I think it had the effect of reverse psychology. Nowadays, there's nothing more I like to do to relax than take a bubble bath with classical music playing. Oh, maybe a candle and a glass of white wine to accompany me.
Um. Not quite the sort of bath the Beaver was avoiding, but I'll throw the credit for love of baths to the days when I avoided them based on those daring Cleaver boys and their disrespect for authority.
5. If you personally know someone who has been on The Jerry Springer Show or shows of its ilk, it's time you found new friends. You might want to check out the possibilities of a name change, moving across the country, or asking about witness protection depending on the closeness of the relationship.
How do I know this? I'll tell you.
Some years back I left a fairly lucrative but high-pressure job to write a novel. Of course, I had to have some money coming in, so I took a McJob (no, not fast food) to support myself. It was an interesting job working with folks of rather dubious integrity. I felt my own life going in a downward spiral besieged by the dregs of society.
But when it really hit me how low my life had gone was when I saw someone I knew, someone I loosely considered a friend although perhaps more of just a co-worker or acquaintance, on the now long defunct Richard Bey Show, a Jerry Springer-esque spawn in the NYC area. Uh-oh. I came to the realization that if I knew anyone on any of the shows like that, I drastically needed to change my own life. And, so I did. I have trashy TV to thank me for coming to my senses. Thank you, Jerry Springer and Richard Bey!
In closing, I have to mention that I haven't even touched on all that I learned from PBS or educational television. Sometimes you learn from unexpected sources like Archie Bunker, Beaver Cleaver, and Jerry Springer. Now, you tell me ... what have you learned?