Commentary : VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE DIAL
I’ve been a TV addict for as far back as I can remember--long before Dicks York and Sargent played Darrin Stephens, long before Oliver dahling whisked Eva Gabor off to “Green Acres” and lovable “Have-I-got-a-swamp-deal-for-you” Mr. Haney.
“Mighty Mouse” kept me company mornings while dressing to face the nuns at St. Joseph’s School.
“Popeye” entertained me during those bologna and Velveeta on Wonder bread and mayo lunches.
“Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” had me wondering if I did join the Navy (who cared if I was only 8 1/2?) would I be assigned to the same submarine as Capt. Lee Crane (David Hedison) and would he marry me?
Fast forward to present day: infomercials and “Seinfeld” and the news from my doctor that I would be home for about two months recovering from surgery.
“You can catch up on your reading,” one friend offered.
“Oh, yes,” I said. “I have been meaning to get back to ‘Silas Marner’ and oh, yes, Stephen Hawkings. And what a waste my life would be if during my time off I failed to reread all of Shakespeare and Dickens. Wasn’t that Pip just a pip in ‘Great Expectations?’ ( Tee-hee-hee ).”
Lie. Lie. Lie.
I engaged in the classics, all right: the “Gilligan’s Island” episode where they almost get off the island, the “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy and Ethel get in hot water with Ricky and Fred, “The Beverly Hillbillies” episode where Granny makes possum stew, and the “Andy Griffith” show where Andy teaches Opie one of life’s lessons.
I was awakened to “Today in L.A.” and dozed off to “The Three Stooges” at 2 a.m. with “The O.J. Simpson Show” filling some afternoons.
It was a TV addict’s dream come true. Imagine being a barbecue-ribs-a-holic and finding yourself locked overnight in a restaurant called Rib-o-rama.
When I tired of real life, I switched over to the soaps.
On “The Young and the Restless,” Victor Newman had a new wife, but his old wife, Nicky, wanted him back after she lost her beau, Cole, to her daughter, Victoria, whose marriage to Cole was briefly in trouble when it looked like Cole might be Victoria’s brother . . .
Things weren’t much better on “The Bold and the Beautiful” for Sheila Forrester, who used to be on “The Young and the Restless” until she “died” in a fire after that whole ugly kidnaping mess, so she moved to L.A. and became the wife of the tres loaded Eric Forrester and fretted over her inclusion (or lack thereof) in his will, which presumably names his sons, but not little Bridget, who I’m convinced is Eric’s daughter and not the daughter of Eric’s son, Ridge, who has always loved Bridget’s mother, Brooke, but has never married her, though now he’s considering it because Brooke (whom Ridge calls “Logan”) is about to marry James, the psychiatrist, who was in love with Ridge’s late wife, Taylor, also a psychiatrist, who might not be dead after all . . .
Round and round it went. I was practically mainlining Visine in order to get maximum watchage out of my eyes. I applied Ben-Gay regularly to my “remote finger” to ease the pain associated with channel-surfing.
Then one morning after an estimated trillion hours of TV watching, it all started to blend. Sorta like a Vulcan mind meld.
I was watching “Regis & Kathy Lee” and I could swear Sheila Forrester was on saying that she discovered the bloodied glove at the Simpson estate.
It only worsened.
After being very diligent about keeping track of what was on Montel, Oprah, Rolanda, Bertice, Jerry, Sally Jessy, Geraldo and Donahue (just in case I wanted to order a written transcript of a show), I drew a blank when trying to recall to a friend what talk show host had “I Married My Brother’s Sister’s Cousin’s Mother-in-law’s Uncle’s Cat.”
I had hit the wall and hard.
With my brain now complete and absolute mush, I ran like the wind into the literary arms of Shakespeare. I skipped “Hamlet,” though. I had caught “My Boyfriend Can’t Make Up His Mind” on Ricki Lake.
Michelle Williams is deputy editor of Life & Style.