Janis Jaquith
511 words


I'm in a hotel room, doing what I do best in a hotel room: lying on the bed, propped up on pillows, squeezing the clicker again and again. I can do this for hours - until I drop off into a blissful sleep, exhausted, my fingers still clutching the remote control.

You're probably wondering why I don't just stay home and enjoy these pleasures with my own television set.

I'll tell you why: Because we are the last middle-class family in America that doesn't have cable TV. No cable TV, no microwave TV, no satellite TV. And as if that were not deprivation enough, we live in an area so rural that not only is there not a single Starbucks within ten miles of us, but our rabbit-eared antenna can pull in just one channel. That's right: one channel.

This is the 21st-century equivalent of having an outhouse. Do you know how sad it is to watch someone try to channel surf when there's only one channel?

It's all my husband's fault. He says we'll never get cable for one reason: because you're never done paying for it. To sign up for cable TV would make Harry feel foolish, like some financial nitwit who isn't concerned about the final cost of anything and whose only question to the salesman is, "What are the monthly payments?"

And I know he's right. Think about it: figure a monthly cable bill of at least thirty dollars. From the time you're out on your own until you retire is about 47 years. Forty-seven years of cable bills at this rate adds up to nearly 17,000 dollars.

Now, had you NOT been lining the pockets of the cable-TV moguls for all those years, but had instead had been stashing that 30 dollars a month into a money-market account or whatever, when retirement is upon you (and you actually have some time to watch TV), your 17,000 dollars would be worth a whole lot more. How much? I have no idea. But you can bet it's whole lot more than 17,000 dollars.

Well, anyway, that's the gospel according to Harry. It feels like I'm married to a minister who doesn’t just preach about moderation and abstinence - he lives it.

Whenever I hear about some special show on one of the nine thousand channels I DON'T get, I feel so deprived, I find myself wondering if there are monasteries where the penitents wear hair shirts, flagellate themselves, and their TV has only one channel.

I put up with this monastic life of mine as long as I can stand it, and then, I'll contrive some kind of business trip that involves a night in a hotel - which is where I am now.

So, if you'll excuse me I will now lie back, sink into my pillows, and let the pleasure begin.

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