My girlfriend and I added yet another luxury to our apartment over the weekend — cable.
Previously, we’d been getting by on basic cable, which is really no cable at all. Just the four of five local networks and a smattering of public access channels, which seem to cover any local church service, every municipal meeting and, sometimes, algebra.
No, really, there’s a channel that constantly has some clown working through algebra equations on a chalkboard.
So yeah, we needed cable. Or so I thought, anyway. My girlfriend’s been awfully busy working 40 hours per week and taking classes nearby. She’s at it seven days per week, so I’m left altruistically planning my days alone with a book, thoughtfully cooked meals, maybe some NPR. What happens is I end up yearning for cable when the networks are playing all infomercials or I already know the algebra equations.
I’ve been back on the cable now for two days and I’ve had enough. Too many reality television shows that couldn’t be further from reality. Too many sports channels showing obscure sporting events (college lacrosse?), too many 24-hour news networks diluting two hours of legitimate news and too many reminders why we, as a society, are done.
I watched MTV for a little over 10 minutes. The Real World was on. I couldn’t tell where the kids are living this season, but in that 10-minute span, I realized:
- I’m officially too old to be cast on The Real World. That left an empty feeling.
- The Real World used to be more like a fish bowl or a sociological experiment that blended gender, race, religion, class, sexual orientation and every other characteristic that makes us different. I think the first four seasons were crucial to my formative years, where I was underexposed to people different than myself coming from South Dakota.
- Wouldn’t it be great if, midseason, the cast got word their digs had been foreclosed? Welcome to the real world, fools.
Cable is a time suck. If my math is correct, I spend just about three hours awake and unoccupied during the weekdays. I can’t say watching cable brings me a sense of fulfillment. The reality is there’s so much to do in Portland, and I haven’t seen the half of it.
A co-worker the other day alluded to an observation his 30-something sister made: When you get out of college and settled into your first full-time job, you spend several years just working for the weekend, but then wasting the weekend by going to bed early and spending all your time on the couch. You’re exhausted. However, a little later on in your 20s, as friends are becoming husbands and wives and parents, you take initiative and start owning your weekends. You’re off to the bars, off on vacations, out doing stuff.
I’m 25 and I’ve got a lot of time to do stuff. I want to try hiking or camping. I want to give the local golf courses a hack. I could use some culture, too. Catch more plays, see more concerts. Try food I never knew existed from restaurants I’ve never heard of. It’s become more apparent in the last 72 hours I’m a homebody, a man of routine, and that’s something I desperately want to shake.
So, I’m canceling cable this week. Goodbye, 60 channels of excess. I won’t be your prisoner no mo’. Back to basic, which I hope offers very, very little so I can somehow push myself off this loveseat and in the direction of something, oh, I don’t know, not on TV?