Friday, November 27, 2009

Pass The Clicker

In the spirit of this Thanksgiving holiday, a humorous peek into my home life...

I'm a typical guy who, if given the chance, will sit on my leather sofa with TV remote in hand and slowly meld into the cushion, oblivious to the fact that I am watching for the third time the same episode of "Trading Spaces" or that I may not have changed my underwear in two days. With this in mind, my wife and I made a decision about four years ago to cancel all but our most basic cable channels.

Who am I kidding! If I'm going to be honest here, she made the decision. I had no say. I still get teary-eyed thinking back to that awful day.

To complicate matters, the cable company screwed up our cancellation. Yes, they lowered our bill from $50 to $16, but they kept forgetting to reduce our cable plan to the basic package. As a result, we continued to get all the big package channels. All for the fantastic price of $16! Can you imagine how frustrating it was for me to hear my wife call the cable company ten times, requesting them to come and "fix the problem."

I saw no problem. We were getting a hundred channels for $16. Where's the problem?

"The problem is that it's dishonest," she replied.

I think her honesty may be the death of me.

Now, though, with the kids growing older and outgrowing PBS (our only kid-friendly channel among our huge selection of 12 channels), we were faced with another dilemma. What could they watch? We were stuck between "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "CSI." There was no gray zone of good television for our kids.

Low and behold, we discovered our favorite television series on DVD. We made trips to Walmart, Target, and Best Buy and were frequent visitors on We snatched up "Little House on the Prairie," "The Waltons," "Happy Days," "Laverne and Shirley," "Leave It To Beaver," "Gilligan's Island," and "The Brady Bunch." There's more, but these were the shows that made the biggest impact.

Our kids were in heaven. If they liked Season 1 of something, we moved on to Season 2. And Season 3. And Season 4. I'm going to be honest here--I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting these classics. Probably more than the kids.

I discovered that I did not attain much personal growth traveling from my childhood into adulthood. I still liked Mary more than Laura. I rooted for Jan over Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. Laverne made me laugh, but Shirley held my heart in her hand. Did I really think Richie Cunningham was cool? And Mary Ann versus Ginger? Let me tell you, if you put your hair in pigtails and wear a red-checkered shirt and tie the bottom in a knot around your waist, I'll eat the scraps from your plate.

Mrs. Cleaver remained my fantasy mother. Just once I wanted to wake up and find my own mother, awesome though she was, serving me breakfast in full makeup and an evening gown! I remember Mom rolling her eyes when I asked her to play along with me on that. Nope, it didn't happen.

And how could I not mention Eddie Haskell, my idol? I got tired of my friends and family mentioning that I was his twin, but he did teach me that good manners and sincere politeness could take you far. Thank you very much. And by the way, did I mention how nice you look today?

I could not let this moment pass without mentioning how much I still love Grandma Walton. Not for the physical reasons, mind you, but just for the fact that I had never known someone who was so moody and sour. It was a new experience to watch such a crotchety character. I was so thankful she wasn't my grandma. I can only imagine what kind of mood Grandma Walton would be in the first time her bladder didn't hold out. Can you even imagine her shrilling voice? "John Boy, get over here right now and change my diaper!" Ugh. Keep writing, John Boy, and get yourself out of that house. Because up on those mountains, my friend, you wash the diapers by hand. In the cold creek.

The biggest hit for my kids, though, was and still is "I Love Lucy." Although I didn't see this one coming, my wife did. My daughters, 13 and 8, love everything about Lucy. And my son, 11, cheers right along with the girls. The candy factory line, the grape-stomping, the vitameatavegamin commercial--you know what I'm talking about. We all have our favorites--are you thinking of yours right now? Just hearing my kids gut-busting laughter from a show that is 50+ years old is a miracle in and of itself. It's hard to believe, but the episodes only seem to have gotten funnier.

We recently traveled to Hilton Head and instead of playing music overhead in the car, my wife and I listened to the episodes that the kids were watching. Better than music, I tell you, better than music.

And I know what you are thinking--NO, we are not pathetic!

I think a visit to Lucy's museum in her hometown of Jamestown, N.Y. is going to happen someday soon. I just need someone to promise me that it won't be a bust.

Okay, so maybe that's a little pathetic. But they just might have a picture of Lucy in pigtails wearing a red-checkered tied-at-the-waist shirt. Then who's going to have the last laugh?

Now, pass me my clicker. Peter's just about to say "Porkchops...and applesauce."

Thanks for post will be Monday, November 30.


Tanya said...

We cancelled our cable years ago-I get 3 channels via antenna-that's right-3. Oh, how I miss the scifi channel!

Marcy Hall said...

i really have to watch some of these shows. as you know, i grew up in a house where we really only did watch PBS, so i feel pretty out of touch. you make these sound so fun and appealing. :)

hope you and "wife" and "kids" had a great holiday!!

SeaSpray said...

Actually..I'm pretty sure I've seen Lucy dressed like that except she had her teeth blacked out too .. for some crazy scheme. :)

I love the older shows and Lucy is a classic.

And so many of the shows had a moral theme running through them. Even if not taught at home ..a child could watch a sitcom and get a lesson in honesty, etc. and have some laughs along the way. They also saw people treated with respect and reap consequences if they did something wrong.

My girlfriend's mother always wore a dress and stockings like June Cleaver..even for housework... although lower shoes for cleaning and not dress shoes. She was the closest to June Cleaver that I ever saw. :)

We have never had HBO or any of the others although we do have the step up from basic.. but there are so many good things on there like the history channel, political channels, etc. Unfortunately.. there is garbage too.

I too decided we would not have HBO because I didn't want trashy movies coming into our house. Like husband went along with it.

But when older son was little about 7 ..we were getting free HBO coming in and I didn't know it. It was a friend who stayed over one night that told me son got up at 4:30 am and was watching an ADULT movie!

It turns out that he had been getting up early every morning watching these adult movies! I have always been a parent who screened what the kids could see and/pr if they did see something on the news, etc..have a discussion about it to put our values on the situation..get them thinking, etc.

I called the company several times insisting that they remove this cable from our home but they said they couldn't because they were working on something in our area.

I am with your wife about the honesty. I know people who get things for free because they hook up themselves but I just think it's robbing someone's income and what if we all did that? And how would we feel?

I've never bought entire seasons but would like to sometime. M*A*S*H* was one of my favorites too. And I love Seinfeld, Frasier, SCRUBS ..but Elaine buying up all the spermacidal sponges in the spongeworthy episode is not exactly a good role model for the kids. When older son was 16 and we faithfully watched the weekly episodes of Seinfeld..I did say.. you can appreciate the humor but it's not okay to sleep around, etc.. but I message was greatly watered down by doing that. But then it is life also and in the end.. we do our best to raise our children with the values we perceive to be right .. an hope they will make choices based on what they learned from us.

But I do think the media has a powerful impact on forming minds and children are sexualized at younger ages.

What about just childhood innocence and fun?

Loved the post and linked it. :)

Tiff said...

I always have and always will "Love Lucy". she was the best. Those old shows may seem corny now, but they were just clean fun with maybe a lesson or two thrown in.
Came to your blog from Blisschick, liking it so far :-)

Kateri said...

Love your blog. This is so like my husband and myself. When we paid for cable internet he discovered he could hook the TV to it and get lots of channels without paying for them. I thought that was terribly dishonest. (As well as being very annoyed at the amount of TV my husband watched.) However, when I discovered that blocking the channels meant that our internet connection barely worked anymore, I changed my mind. =)

tracy said...

You simply must visit the "Walton's Mountian Museum" in Virginia. Complete with replicas of the living room and Ike's store. No Grandma though. Sorry.

Just found your blog and love it!
tracy in VA

tracy said...

....and "Emergency". The best Medical tv show ever. It's so fun to watch such a clean and tidy EMS show...and laugh at the mistakes..."W h o's holding C-Spine??"

SeaSpray said...

I've never seen EMS. Is that on now or in past?

My neighbor is an electrician and owned his own bucket loader and so he went up and hooked himself up to cable. he was eventually found out and they did get in trouble but I don't remember the consequences.

Smalltown RN said...

That is simply fantastic!!!! I watched and loved all those shows that you mentioned. Here we are with over 1000 channels...yes I did say 1000(statelite) but you know I would much prefer to watch those old you remember Pettie Coat Junction or Beverly Hill Billies or Green Acres.....but yes I love Lucy I think topped the about the one when she was doing the commercial for cough syrup....oh to funny!

Your story is very heart warming and so well written...thank you for sharing...

Happy Weekend to you and wonderful television time with your family!

SeaSpray said...

Ha ha! Green Acres ..sometimes I think I'd rather have to climb a telephone pole to place a call with a real operator ("Hello Sarah?!! :)then have to deal with all the listening to this number and that and God forbid you screw up and push the wrong one and have to start all over again. (I accidentally ordered jc penny life ins that way)At least he got a live person. ;)

So many good shows back then. I always liked "That Girl" with Marlo Thomas and My Three Sons, McCales Navy, Golmer Pile and so many. :)

I know I already commented..but really good post. :)

Oh and Perry Mason, Bonanza, The fugitive ..etc.

Ambrosia Bierce (2014 AD) said...

Hey! I gotta get to Jamestown! I did NOT know such a museum existed! I just watched all of Quantum Leap & Wonder Years via Netflix. Also highly recommend my favorite "Due South". I'd recommend "Early Edition' but not all seasons exist on DVD. Sigh.