we only had cable television for a few years when i was little. i think my parents got it so we could watch fraggle rock on hbo, and they didn’t see much use for it otherwise. but i remember our babysitter kneeling two feet in front of the tv to watch the “sweet child o’ mine” video. her obsession with axl rose was as bewildering as my fourth-grade obsession with def leppard’s “pour some sugar on me”; when the mtv countdown put the video at number one, my friend nancy and i danced around the living room. “you guys are weird,” my sister scoffed. my dad got rid of the cable not long after that.
there was cable in the dorms during my two years at ut austin, although most of that time is blocked out in my memory. but i checked the weather channel every morning before class, and i watched the first-ever behind the music on vh1. you know, the one about milli vanilli. when i moved back to houston my parents didn’t have cable, and i never had it when i lived alone.
if my calculations are correct, i’ve spent more than 17 of my 27 years without regular access to cable tv. but i think i watch too much tv in the first place, and anyway i’m happiest with my many simpsons tapes or some dvds of shows i like. sure, a lack of cable tv makes for a few holes in my media knowledge. i’ve only seen two episodes of the sopranos. i’ve never seen monk or queer eye or trading spaces or anything like that. and don’t ask me if i ever saw the video for ____________, because i did not see it. and that’s okay with me.
but today we got directv. a guy came out and tested our satellite signal. he put a dish on our patio, a cable under our carpet, and a receiver on top of my vcr. this wasn’t my idea, but i guess it’s okay. living with a six feet under-obsessed film major means that these things happen. and now we have 150 channels and a pretty remote with lots of buttons.
thus far i’ve found cable tv pretty bewildering. why are the local channels and cable channels separated by thirty pay-per-views? i have to scroll through a bunch of hitches to get from craig ferguson to family guy. how am i going to remember which channels correspond to which numbers? and why are there so many channels in the first place? i can only watch one thing at a time. and when i’m watching that one thing, i can’t concentrate on it for worrying that there might be something better on another channel. there are too many choices! am i missing a buffy i’ve never seen?
it’s very stressful.
the guy who came to set up our directv couldn’t get the vcr and the receiver to work at the same time. so we have 150 channels and no vcr, and since the dvd player is hooked up through the vcr, we have no dvd, either. which means that for now i can’t watch my simpsons tapes or arrested development dvds. and i’d choose those over all the channels in the world.