Once upon a time, there was a little snot-nosed kid who watched a lot of TV who grew up to be a big snot-nosed kid who watched a lot of TV. He also worked as a writer in the lifestyles department of a daily newspaper. In TV talk this is called an ironic plot twist, as he had no lifestyle. Ergo, he was not writing anything. Until one day his kindly editor pulled him into a conference room.
“Kid, what do you do here?,” she asked. “I’m a writer,” said he.
“And what do writers do?”
“Well, we drink a lot of coffee, smoke a lot of cigarettes and keep a bottle of scotch in our desk drawers for medicinal purposes. Oh, and I also make your coffee.”
The editor sighed, but realized at least she hadn’t lost him yet. ”But what else do writers do?”
“This is a trick question, right?”
“No kid, the trick here is getting you to do what writers do, which is write. Because you’re not doing it.”
“But I don’t know what to write about.”
“Hmmm … what do you like to do?”
“I watch a lot of TV.”
“Excellent! Kid, you’re going to write about TV! You know, what’s on tonight, what you watch, what people should watch, stuff like that. Every day.”
“Every day? But that’s a lot of TV, and most of it’s crap.”
“See? You’re a natural! One minute you’re a coffeemaker and poof! Now you’re a TV critic. Who said fairy tales don’t come true? Now, go get me a cup of coffee.”
A TV columnist was born. He sent his thoughts into many homes, in 10 lines or less (in those days only birds tweeted), inside a little box embedded in the daily listings. He learned to be brief. And that the word crap doesn’t take up much space.
He also learned TV was sacred to a lot of people, as in sacred cow. And while sacred cows many times give holy milk, more often they produce a lot of … you got it. He received hate mail. Lots of it. He went to the managing editor, dropped the pile on his desk and asked what he should do, as the big boss read through them.
“Do? Write more! This is great! So a lot of them question your sanity … and yeah there’s a couple death threats in here, but they’re reading you, kid! Now, go get me a cup of coffee.”
But one day, he’d had enough. He’d run out of aliases to use in restaurants, lost his Groucho Marx disguise glasses. So he hung up his rabbit ears and walked away. He was married, had bought a house, had pets. He’d started reading books and magazines. And no longer watched a lot of TV – lawnmowers didn’t have TV screens. Yet. In other words, he had a life. And it was a good one.
Until one day he was reading and down the hall, in the living room, his wife was watching her “shows”. Weeks worth, thanks to the DVR. Episode after episode of “Dancing with the Stars”, “The Bachelor”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Undercover Boss” and … gasp … “Revenge”. Some episodic video torture chamber about a model-like 20-something woman plotting to kill the rich murderers of her father in the Hamptons.The Hamptons? They don’t murder people in the Hamptons – it’s not tax-deductible.
“Sweet Jesus who to this day claims He was on vacation the week His Father created cable TV … what is that?!”
“It’s one of my shows …”
“That!?!? Why, that’s a pile of …”
“ … it’s my favorite show.”
Oh no. Please do remember – this is a fairy tale.
And they lived happily ever after.