We’ve all experienced that brief moment of crisis, those few seconds of rapidly and exponentially mounting tension, when the television fades to black and remains obstinately so for just a tad bit too long. Milliseconds, probably, but it feels like… minutes.
Who knows… maybe some behind-the-scenes monkey dozed off and forgot to ensure that the cut to commercial break be as seamless as a Speedo. Or maybe the film editors got lazy. Or maybe you were watching something directed by David Lynch, in which case everything is intended to make you uncomfortable.
The thing is… we’re so used to sharp, quick, smooth cuts, cuts that leave no room for even the smallest lapse of attention. After all, can’t let those eyes wander. So when you’re sitting next to your homie on the futon watchin the boob tube while your buttery hands duke it out in the popcorn bowl, and the screen suddenly stays black for just a second too long… you are suddenly and rudely confronted with your own mortality.
Okay that may be a little dramatic. Or not. I mean I’m sitting there, blissfully allowing myself to indulge in the cheap and readily available form of escape that television provides, when suddenly my reflection, alongside that of whoever is bored enough to be watching television with me, is on the screen and will not go away.
I almost can’t breathe until the screen lights up again, and, with a sigh of relief, I can bask in the warm, familiar comfort of Alex Trebek doing something horribly condescending.
I think a large part of that panic, during those short moments, stems from the sudden and undeniable realization that I am, to boil it down, sitting still and staring straight ahead at a glowing box – an inanimate object that most certainly does not reciprocate my tender sentiments. Oh, the horror.
Watching television: the anti-hobby of slightly shamefaced people everywhere.
It’s true. Rarely does a hefty portion of TV come without a side of guilt and a dash of self-loathing. Forgive the cheesy cooking metaphors. (And that half-assed pun).
I mean, you probably didn’t intend, when you first pressed that seductively circled red play button, to spend fourteen consecutive hours watching Downton Abbey (or Walking Dead, or Game of Thrones, or Pretty Little Liars…) on your computer, lying on top of crumpled sheets and an ever-accumulating nest of crumbs. When you finally dragged yourself out of bed to brush your teeth at 3:30am, you probably weren’t thinking, Yes! I can check THAT off my to-do list!
More realistically, at least based on my own personal experience, while scrubbing those pearly whites you were probably slowly and painfully coming to terms with the fact that you do not live in early 20th century Britain, that you do not have to worry about Germans, and that you do, in fact, have to wake up in four hours.