The Ex-Couch Potato · 20 September 2000

Until recently, I had been watching a lot more TV than I used to. Looking back, it seems kinda dumb. I would sit back and watch other people living their lives and I really didn’t live at all. Except through them. It was pretty sad. My life was really messed up.

I guess that I really noticed how much TV had screwed up my life when I got a call from my girl the other night. I was watching some dumb show when she called. Now, I’ve gotta tell you that I used to be a good listener. And not just by my own admission. But that night, I was too engrossed with the program to notice what she was talking about. At first when she called, I was irritated that somebody interrupted my show. Then I found out who it was and I was glad to hear from her. I laid back on the couch to listen better. I had already turned the TV’s sound down but the picture was still on. After saying hello and all of the pleasantries, she started telling me about her day. She started talking about how her boss said this and that. After a little while, I started to just say, “uh-huh” and not really listen. It was toward the end of the show where it gets exciting and I was watching the action and listening to her voice. Well, she figured out that I wasn’t listening when she asked me a question and I had to ask her to repeat it. She just hung up on me. I tried to call her back but she wouldn’t answer. So I watched the rest of the show and tried again. She had cooled down a little so we talked civilly until I told her why I hadn’t been listening. She got angry again and hung up after saying that I could just live with my TV and forget her if that was the way I wanted it. I called and called to try to talk to her again but she never answered. So I finally gave up and went to bed.

It was a fitful sleep. I could hardly get to sleep at all and when I finally did, I had a nightmare about marrying a TV from hell. That woke me up and I couldn’t go back to sleep. It was two o’clock but I got out of bed, went to the living room, and automatically flipped on the tube with the remote as I sat down on the couch. The late-late show was on. Then the late-late-late show. I watched it all night and into the next day. All through the day I watched, mesmerized. I was glued to the couch. I had my remote and I flipped through the channels all day long. And all night the next night too. The phone rang, the doorbell jingled but I didn’t respond. I only knew the TV. I remember feeling a floating sensation and then I was watching myself from inside the TV screen. My body was sitting there slouched down in the couch with eyes wide and an expressionless face. I could tell that I was dead. I saw the paramedics come through the door with my girlfriend and the apartment manager. The paramedics checked for a pulse. They said that I was stone cold dead. They closed my eyes and everything went black. I tried to scream but nothing came out. And then I was sitting upright screaming at the top of my lungs. I was on the couch. The test pattern was on the tube. I was in a cold sweat shaking with fear. It was four in the morning — just two hours after I had started watching TV I realized that it had all been just a dream but as I looked dumbly at the television set, I knew what I had to do. So I got up from the couch, did the deed, and went back to bed to sleep peacefully for the rest of the morning.

I called my girlfriend up after I woke up that morning to see if she wanted to have dinner and talk. After I pleaded and begged for an hour, she finally relented and said that she would meet me at my place that evening at six. When she came in, she couldn’t hide her shock at what she saw. But she wasn’t afraid. She just looked at the axe in the TV and said calmly, “Better it than me.”

It was a lovely dinner.

© 2000 Michael T. Miyoshi

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From Musings of a Mediocre Man published September 2000.


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