Spliced up

Today, I regress by going forward.

The story: over two years ago, I cut a trusted friend – a confidant, an informational marvel and a source of enjoyment for nearly all of my then 26 years on Earth.

I cancelled cable.

For lack of attention, really – we were simply not watching television very often, and when we did, it was total crap. We were tied to our cable like a noose, not enjoying a minute of it yet still allowing ourselves to be leached of life and, more specifically, part of our paycheck.

Two years passed and we rarely missed it. We read more books, watched more movies, enjoyed the free channels and found a new appreciation for network television – the big four that we had neglected in favor of shows like Newlyweds and The Osbournes.

I say rarely. I always felt a hole when it came to sports; I was forced to watch only the major sporting events, and oftentimes I did so while peering through a fit of white-noise snow and nausea inducing static lines. The reception always varied – sometimes clear, but never stable.

And we didn’t have PBS anymore. At least, not when we moved our television to its rightful place in the family room downstairs. We simply didn’t get the signal. It was nearly ironic – the one channel we paid for (through donations and membership to Public Broadcasting) we couldn’t actually see.

Our solution was to put an antenna on the roof. We called around, excited to gain another channel and, in the process, prepare ourselves for the HD revolution that would manifest itself the strongest over the airwaves. Of course, in true Murphy’s fashion, we were derailed by one number.

502. As in, $502. The number of dollars we’d have to pay to have an antenna mounted on the roof.

So the choice was simple. More channels. Clear picture. Lots of extra inside time through a combination of colder weather and new baby.

We’re getting cable again, baby! Bring it on!

It took us exactly a week to be upsold – not by the cable provider, but by our friends – to the digital DVR package. I refused to accept the offer over the phone while I was ordering it. But in watching the glories of pausing live television and recording the stuff I can’t make time to catch during the week, I was sold.

I used to think I was a strong member of the intelligencia – a person who didn’t need television to enjoy himself, a guy who struck out against the grain in defiance of the supposed necessities of cable network programming. But I’m not. Instead, I realize that it’s not about having cable or not having cable – it’s about watching it in moderation, not gluing yourself to the screen simply because you’re bored.

And in another somewhat ironic twist, it was the gold standard of stuffy intelligencia everywhere – PBS – that forced me to go back. My faux-pretentiousness is all ego-driven. My love for cable? It’s all real.

Yeah, I said it. I love cable. And now that we have it back, I can’t believe we ever lived without it.

I mean, seriously – what did we do with our time?

This was lovingly handwritten on October 18th, 2007