Sometimes I am easily distracted. That is what happened with my last post. I am very aware that I have a somewhat strange writing style, but I can usually reel it in on most cases. I lost it on that one. You see, I don’t really plan out or outline my writing here, I just sort of start with an idea and see where it takes me. The idea for the last post was to show how television has evolved over the last thirty to forty years, but I got myself side tracked with the whole kids programing thing, and before I knew it, I had a very lengthy description of a few shows I remembered as a kid, and I hadn’t even mentioned most of the things that actually sparked the idea. Knowing my own short attention span when reading, I try to keep the posts relatively short. Just today as I was walking around the house, I realized I had to have at least five books in various states of read, each with some sort of scrap of paper holding my spot, patiently waiting for me to pick it back up. On my dresser there is a book called Don’t Scream by Wendy Corsi Staub, and of them all, this is the one I just wont get back to. I completely lost interest at page 162 where my ticket from that dismal Van Halen concert probably has found a permanent home. In the bathroom I have Playing the Moldovans at Tennis by Tony Hawks. Not the skateboarding video games guy, the English comedian and TV personality. His first book, Round Ireland With a Fridge, is a must read for anyone planning to take a trip to the Emerald Isle. This book I am still reading, but only a few pages at a sitting when I am not trying to finish the Monster Sokuko from the Sunday Sun-Times. Alex has been trying to get me to read a book called Everlost by Neal Shusterman, and I have started it twice now. I got a little further the second time than I did the first, but considering that it is sitting in the front room next to the Halloween decorations I have still not walked back down to the basement, odds are I am going to have to start it again. Maybe the third time will be the charm. The last two books I really do want to finish, but I seem to get distracted every time I pick them up. The first is a non-fiction book called Barbarians to Angels by Peter S. Wells and the first two chapters have promised to re-examine the notion that the Dark Ages were really not that dark, and that our perception has been jaded by the known writings from the new Roman era beginning around 800 AD. And the final book is one of those serial killer thrillers called Immoral by Brian Freeman. I actually got to read a chapter today at Molly’s ice skating lessons despite the fact that Alex felt the need to explain to me how bored he was each time I looked down at the page.
The basic idea for my last post was sparked a couple of weeks ago when I stayed home from work for a day. I had caught that virus thing that had been passed around, and I decided that I needed a trip to the red couch for the day rather than a trip to the office. As I settled in with the remote that only a 13-year-old can truly understand, I realized I had a whole bunch of choices for viewing. As a kid, when you stayed home sick from school, you were basically stuck watching the soap operas with your mom. My mom liked the ABC soaps which included All My Children, One Life to Live, and General Hospital. But the first one each afternoon was Ryan’s Hope. As the title may indicate, Ryan’s Hope was about a group of Irish Americans living in New York. This may come as a shock, but this particular group of people were involved in law enforcement, and the parents, Johnny and Maeve Ryan ran a bar. One year while in Junior High, I was sick enough to stay home for a week, and lucky for me, this was also the week that a white blond character named Delia was kidnaped by a gorilla. I kid you not, not only was she taken by a gorilla, but somehow they ended up on the top of an office building somewhere in New York. Rest assured, this was a regular sized gorilla, not a King Kong wanna be. On that Monday’s show, the gorilla dropped Delia from the roof of the building, and that blond lady fell, for and entire week. The rest of the show just continued on as if nothing was happening, and every once in a while they would cut back to a slow motion shot of Delia falling. I never did find out what happened to her because I went back to school the next week, but she must have been ok, because come the summer she was still on the show.
Back in the present, or at least the more recent past of a couple of weeks ago, I had a much broader range of choices for my sick day couch potato viewing. Once I figured out the whole remote thing, I settled on a marathon of Cold Case Files with Bill Curtis. And it actually turned out to be just what I needed. Bill Curtis has that voice that is just so darn soothing, and before I knew what was happening, he had lulled me right to sleep. Every once in a while I would open one eye, and there would be a whole new story of a missing wife or mysterious death, but the one constant was that voice. Like a child with a favorite blanket, it reassured me and made me feel safe, and then right back to slumberland. It finally came to an end when Alex came home and switched the channel. My safe place was gone.
You see, this was the whole point I wanted to make during the last post. Kids have it too easy these days. All of my children have completely lost the ability to wait through a commercial break, and they all flip through the stations as soon as one comes on. They have no patience. We have bred a whole new generation with DVR and On Demand, video games and the internet, and anything they want right at their fingertips. The closest thing my dad had to a remote control was to tell one of the kids to get up and change the channel. And we would have to walk all the way across the room and manually turn a knob to get to the next station. My kids are wimps. Alex could not sit still or keep his mouth shut for just the 40 minutes that we were waiting for Molly to finish up her skating lessons. And when I told them we could stop somewhere to get something to eat after the lesson was over, the two of them instantly started to argue over where we would go, as if I had nothing to say in the matter. How the hell did they think they were getting there? And who did they think was going to be paying? And on the way to the car it was a shoving match over who got to sit in the front seat. I grabbed Molly by the wrist to pull her away from her brother, and I was instantly greeted by “Stop, You’re hurting me.” Then something deep inside me snapped for just a second and the ghost of fatherhood past took over. I looked her straight in the face and said, “You think that hurt?” I then pinched that little bit of skin on the back of her arm just below pit. We all know the spot, because each of our mothers has used it to get our attention when we were a child. Molly jumped away very quickly and let out a little shriek. “Now that hurts,” I proudly announced.
Sure, later I felt a little guilty about the pinch, but as long as I had their attention I got the back yard cleared of the deck furniture, the hammock and a whole lot of garbage that had blown around from the last windy garbage day. They of course grumbled the whole time, and Alex complained that the metal of the table was too cold. Like I said, my kids are wimps. They have very short attention spans and they are easily distracted.
Just like their father.