Friday, February 2, 2024

Quit TV? That’s a Novel Idea

Recently, I was cleaning up some files on the hard drive of my computer and I found a folder titled “Manuscript ideas.” I created this folder about 15 years ago, back when I genuinely thought I had enough spare time to write some books. However, the last decade and a half turned out to be devoid of spare time, so my hope now is that maybe I’ll find time to write a book or two after I retire.
Anyway, in that long lost computer folder, I found a document labeled “Television,” which contained an outline for a book idea. Frankly, I don’t remember creating that document, nor do I have any recollection of thinking it would be a good idea to write a book about television.

I started reading through the outline, curious to discover what I had in mind back then. The first few chapters would describe my life-long love affair with TV, beginning when I was just a baby. I’m the first-born in my family, and my younger brother came along when I was 10 months old. We were born in different calendar years, but I'm pretty sure we meet the classic definition of “Irish twins.” My mom was kind of preoccupied, so according to family lore, the television was my babysitter.

Mom would push my playpen right up against the TV. This was back when televisions were heavy pieces of furniture, sitting right on the floor. I would stand up in the playpen, holding on to the bars like a baby jailbird, and put my face about six inches away from the flickering black-and-white screen. I’m told that I would just stare at that screen for hours on end, giving my mom time to take care of my brother. Throughout my entire childhood and beyond, I’ve pretty much watched TV whenever possible for as long as possible.
In the document I found on my computer, one of the book chapters would discuss how I’ve learned more about life from TV characters such as Hawkeye Pierce, the Fonz, and Bugs Bunny than I ever learned from my parents, teachers, or catechism instructors.

As I read through the old outline, I thought, “This is kind of weird, but it might make a good book, if I ever get some spare time.”

About halfway through the document, it discussed what the second half of the book would cover. Here is the entry I read: “These final chapters will describe what it was like to go one full year without watching television – the health benefits, better sleep, financial savings, more free time, etc.”

I paused when I read that, completely stunned. I said to the 2008 me: “Wait a minute, Bill. Are you really serious? Did you actually think you could go without TV for a full year and then write a book about it? Wow, I don’t even know you anymore.”

It goes without saying that over the past 15 years, the timespan since I wrote that outline, I did not go an entire year without watching TV. I’m pretty sure I did not make it through an entire DAY without gazing at my beloved television.
I should write a book about how deluded I was back then to think I could go a full year without television. But the only way I’ll have enough spare time to write the manuscript would be to make a major change in my usual routine, such as, um, giving up television for a year. Yeah, fat chance.

Well, don’t look for any publications from me in a bookstore anytime soon. After all, a UConn basketball game is about to begin, and watching without playpen bars in front of my face is a beautiful sight. 

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