Sunday, April 28, 2013

Harrison Family Values, Part One

         TV, in our household, was the forbidden fruit.  We were allowed a mere sixty minutes of precious programming each weekend, that or a movie, and on Sundays our screen time had to be religiously based, picture Mormon-produced family films and bible stories, as well as church history films (later our parents allowed animated features to creep into the Holy Sabbath ritual).  We celebrated “TGIF” (Thank Goodness It’s Friday) regularly, as that night (Friday) was designated as a “TV watching night!”  Our parents would spread the party blanket; we would pop homemade popcorn and select our pop-sharing buddies (we each were allowed a half a can), and settle in for Boy Meets World, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  When the fun Friday programming came to an end, and the 10o’clock news started, we would plead to stay up, stay up, to watch, the news. 
            After school, I sometimes spent a few hours at my friend’s houses before returning home for the evening.  We would get a snack, (I always hoped they had pop tarts or toaster strudel, delicacies my parents never bought, but I usually ended up asking for “cold cereal” another privilege I wasn’t afforded until the weekend).  During the process of preparing the edibles, we would discuss options for activities, and I would beg my friends (usually each friend, respectively) to watch TV.  Their face(s) would scrunch up in a look of disgust and repulsion, “I watch TV all the time! I want to do something different while you are here.” To which my rebuttal would be, “Well I never get to watch TV.  Can’t we at least put it on in the background?”  The TV was usually turned on, and I was drawn to its light.  Friends would ask questions and try to carry on a dialogue, and I would be oblivious to anything but the sounds and images on the screen, slack-jawed, eyes glazed over. 
            On rare days I would find myself alone at home, I would turn on the TV, volume turned down low, and watch the skeaziest most shameful show on (Maury or Jerry Springer, soap operas would do the trick as well) something my parents would never allow even during my allotted hour.  I would sit tensely, staring at the screen, adrenaline throbbing through my veins, pure excitement exploding in the cortexes of my brain.   I would jump at the smallest sound, remote control already in my sweaty palm I would rapidly switch the channel, click the TV off, throw the remote on the couch, and zip off to another region of the house, a premeditated, decoy activity lying in wait.  If the sound turned out to be nothing, I would slowly make my way back to the TV room, and turn on the set…