The way I see it, it would be sexist to think that teaching my son how to cook, clean, and serve his family is one step forward for mankind, but then think that teaching my daughter the same thing would be a step backward for womankind.
When I was a kid, trying to make my mom watch a movie or T.V. show with me and the rest of the fam was nigh on impossible.
My mama would agree to join us in the den easily enough. And only then, after we’d all settled in and the lights were dimmed, would she engage in a much more insidious form of evil --
She couldn’t sit still.
I’m not talking readjusting her position on the couch. Instead, the screen would only manage to hold her interest for three, four minutes at a time and then she was up. “I’m just putting a load in,” she’d say. “I’m just putting away the dishes.”
It’s hard to fault her for struggling to find enough minutes in the day to manage four kids, a socially maladjusted dog with a penchant for expensive cheeses, and my dad, who shared the dog’s passion for pricey dairy typically reserved for guests. (They both enjoyed eating it in large quantities on the sly and refusing all culpability).
If it had been a case of her having too many things to do and her bratty kids not helping her that would be one thing. But it wasn’t.
Sometimes her excuses were almost comically vague. “I just remembered something about...saucers...Bertrand Russell....perogies?” Before we could question her or express our concern in the face of her dwindling sanity, she was off.
She’d sometimes come back, and of course when she did she came with a myriad of questions. “Who’s that? Did he kill her? I thought there were dinosaurs in this? Is she a dinosaur?” It’s amazing the holes that just watching 1/3 of a 22-minute television program can leave, logically speaking.
When the television program in question had ended, my mom went off to sleep. Sometimes she didn’t make it that far. The rest of us hunkered down for the latest episode of "Star Trek Next Generation," Jean Luc Picard’s wise dictums punctuated by Gail’s snoring.
I always swore I would not be that way.
If growing into being a responsible adult meant leaving my passion for sitting for long stretches of time, my mouth agape, and going to bed at roughly 8:00pm, I was not down with that.
I reached my slacker max in college. For a solid year, I lived my days as nights. I subsisted on Oatmeal Pies and episodes of "The X-Files" and "Cowboy Bebop." I clocked more hours than I care to consider just sitting.
Now I have a hard time sleeping once it gets light out. I can still binge watch T.V. like it’s my job (yesterday Olivia Pope and I spent a considerable amount of time together making poor romantic choices and rescuing Washington’s Elite from ruin), but damned if I’ll sit still for longer than five minutes if the show isn’t worth watching. (I love you, "L.A. Shrinks," but you are going to have to realize that your function is to quietly talk to me while I tackle my dishes.)
Besides that, there’s a million triggers in the T.V. -- a million little things to remind you of all the shit you need to do. "Hoarders" is on? I have a junk drawer to organize. "Chopped," you say? I have some vegetables to clean and use before they turn to fridge rot. "Doctor Who"? TIME AND SPACE TRAVEL TO DISCOVER AND IMPLEMENT.
I GET YOU, MOM.
Of course, doing all this shit all the time finds me now sharing my mother’s uncanny ability to fall asleep quickly and so early that it’s mildly embarrassing. I guess, silver lining, that proves I’ve still got my youthful passion for sitting on my ass. I ain’t never met a chair I could not nap in.
Are you a binge TV watcher? What shows are worth binging on? I’m RUNNING OUT. Can you sit still? What weirdo parental traits have you found yourself adopting? Do you watch "Scandal" -- CAN YOU HANDLE IT? I can’t even, Fitz. I can’t even.