Drinks: check. Snacks: check. Empty bladder: check. Toss sleeping cats off the sofa: check. This is going to be a marathon event, so we want to be fully prepared.
My brown-eyed girl has rented the entire first and second seasons of a premium cable channel program - one we would otherwise miss because we’re too cheap to purchase the premium cable channel. We have 20 one-hour episodes to watch, and I have injected eye refresher directly into my veins to keep my baby browns open and alert.
It’s called “binge watching.” In just one or two sittings, or over an entire weekend, you plow through an entire season or seasons of a television program. It’s fairly inexpensive entertainment we use to replace more costly attractions like a tropical cruise or eating at that popular, over-priced restaurant with the thirty-five dollar organic pizza appetizer.
My wife and I aren’t Wall Street sharks or brain surgeons, so we bring in enough money to pay the bills, keep the boys fed and warm, care for the cats, and, during the rare blue moon, indulge ourselves in a lesser cut of steak. To us, premium cable is a luxury, like fine leather, a brand-new car, a week in San Tropez or a night with no kids.
So my wife turns down the lights and brings in the really poofy comforter to snuggle under during showtime. It’s the soft, warm one that guarantees she’ll be asleep five minutes after the DVD starts. “That’s maybe not such a good idea,” I remark about the comforter, being sure to include “maybe” because when we were first married she couldn’t have thought more highly of my opinions; now, after enduring them for 12 long years, she’d rather take a hockey puck to the face.
After fast-forwarding through 385 movie previews and an FBI warning that if we pirate this program they’ll lop off body parts very dear to us, we hit PLAY for the first episode. The opening credits reveal a cast of characters longer than my family tree, so immediately I become frustrated. I don’t do well with shows like this; I never can keep track of who’s who. My wife dutifully hits the remote’s PAUSE button every three minutes to explain who the man with the scruffy beard and creepy wiggly eye is, and exactly why he is slicing off another person’s head with a sword, and why the blond woman with the sneer can’t seem to keep her clothes on.
Five hours later the snacks and the beer are gone, my legs have fallen asleep, and we’re still watching. This show has a complex plot with a lot of yelling, duplicity, backstabbing, and regular stabbing, too. It’s a lot like watching our neighbors the Keisters through their front window on a Saturday night.
(And the Keisters really get into the spirit of it, acting out recaps of the previous Saturday, and offering previews of next Saturday’s action. At the halfway mark, Mrs. Keister will stop and do a commercial advertising her to-die-for lemon squares, and at the end they all hold up a huge sign promoting their website, dysfunctionalkeisters.com.)
The cable show is also very lusty, and my glasses keep fogging over, so my wife quickly devises little windshield wipers to keep them clear. When you grow up in a strict Catholic household you’re taught that stuff is allowed only in marriage, or if you’re watching cable, so thank heavens I’m covered.
I know I promised my brown-eyed girl I’d see the 20 episodes completely through, but my brain has a charley horse and I think I’m getting a stye.
“Only 15 more episodes to go,” she says helpfully.
Night has fallen, and I chug an energy shot and dig in to watch them. Episode Six opens with a man getting skewered through the neck and yet another woman climbing out of her medieval britches. I think of frumpy Mrs. Keister, and know I’ll never need the windshield wipers on Saturday night. But those lemon squares really are to die for.