CHRISTMAS VACATION: CONFESSIONS OF A CONFUSED DOUCHE
SECTION TWO: CINCINNATI, OHIO
Chapter XV: My World without Television
Every person I encountered, particularly the three kids, interrogated me about not having a television. For some reason, some people cannot even fathom the notion of not having a TV. When asked why, I did not wish to relate specific details or discuss politics. Furthermore, I did not wish to insult anybody with my personal perspective on television and the media. Therefore, I answered honestly but omitted a portion of the details that might be considered contentious.
Simply put, I never liked television and I hate commercials—I left it at that.
There are some people who I will be more frank with, but usually I will not relate anything more than stating that I don’t need anybody attempting to formulate opinions for me, that I am more than capable of drawing my own conclusions (“me too” was the response to that, “I don’t like TV either” …then why do you watch it constantly?) or, I simply do not like anything TV stands for. One person I was slightly more honest—I seek a society that has no control whatsoever from government, religion, banks, and TV—then proceeded to elaborate how television is primarily a brainwashing propaganda device to incorporate the pathetic images that epitomizes mainstream American corporate dysfunctional society (“OK then,” was that response).
People who also do not possess a TV or also despise TV never ask this question, so I am free to discuss anything I want with these people—this is what I consider my people. Truthfully, excessive TV watching is a deal breaker for me when seeking a girlfriend. My ideal woman does not own a TV either. Simply put, TV glamorizes white people and specifies what images are acceptable in this so-called "free" society.
Alyssa was not satisfied with the short answer and persistently questioned me about the matter. At age 10, I assumed that she was at that in-between age where she might understand some issues, but it has been determined that I should not share my own personal political or religious beliefs with the kids.
Finally, I kindly explained, “You know those ‘every kiss begins with Kay’ commercials? I don’t like anything about them; I don’t like the image it conveys, the people in it, the song, the products being sold, the methods used to sell them, or the overall principle in which the product is supposedly needed. All of that is against everything I stand for in life. One day you’ll be old enough to understand what I mean by all of that, and you can draw your own conclusion as to whether or not you agree with it. But, it ties in with that image from Les Miserable’s… that scary one that you did not like; I do not like that condition either.”
She was content with that response. I think maybe she had heard that I have some “peculiar” points of view in the world, many she would not understand at her age, and many she’s better off not understanding for as long as she is able. When I told her that I had a website and had written a bunch of stories, she grew excited and wished to view the site on her phone. Unfortunately, she was told she wasn't allowed. I just had to kindly explain that it begins with NC-17 because people of a certain age aren't allowed to read it—there are a lot of cuss words and people doing bad things in there. “Why?” she asked innocently. And that I’ll never know—or at least never be able to explain properly.
I had to move from the good bedroom to the couch. This marked the end of decent sleep. Sleeping on a couch with kids present is never an easy task and soon I also was interrogated as to why I slept with the covers over my head. “How can you breathe under there?” My only response was, “why do you guys have to question me about everything?”
My perfect little solitary retreat was temporarily disrupted, but I was fine with that—visiting the kids was more important than substantial sleep; sleeping could come some other day. The couch marked bed #2 in which I slept during the trip.
As I was gathering my personal belongings from out of the bedroom that was now occupied by Tim and Caroline, Ella entered looking deeply concerned. We were alone and it was as if she were pulling me to the side to discuss some important issues. She stood on the bed while I was rounding up my stuff and asked, “Uncle Tony,” and she was dead serious, “how come you don’t have a TV?”
“I don’t like it.”
She responded with, “Oh. Well then, your name is Tony Pepperoni,” and she took off running up the stairs.
I received yet another lecture from her shortly after that. This began when Isaiah insisted that I was too skinny to be a man, and therefore referred to me as an old woman. At 8, he already has lines in his brow, so I retaliated by implying that he was significantly older than me because he was actually born in 1926; we determined that had been frozen in peanut butter for decades. Ella interrogated me about this several times and finally informed me sternly, “Isaiah was never frozen in peanut butter.”
Any conversation pertaining to television had to be regarded as unpleasant by the other members of my family. I had never even heard of most of the shows and had no clue what they were even speaking of; I did my best to conceal looks of disgust while they were discussing opinions that had been formulated by the commentators or any of the so-called “facts” they had heard about on the news. All opinions on television are formulated and conveyed by unreliable narrators… TV period is an unreliable narrator.
Despite being in Cincinnati for approximately a week, I only saw the remainder of my extended family but for a few short hours when they came to visit on my last day. My cousin had thrown a party just before Christmas and I contemplated attending it before concluding that I had no business being there either. Drama ensued at this party when she threw her own brother out of her house for making racist comments.
I was proud of Katy, but utterly disgusted with the amount of racist bullshit occurring in my family. It made me wonder when, exactly, they became dysfunctional in this regard. Although I love my family, I view the racism as a serious issue that complicates matters royally. I am the most anti-racist person on Earth; I now view Katy as an ally with more intellect than a significant portion of my family, and I’ve always known my Aunt Gin is cool in this regard for we worked together for several years at the VA—I know she is cool because she once lectured my friend Malcolm (a black man I was good friends with) and I because we had insinuated that we were going shopping for some new appliances during the riots of 2001 in Cincinnati). I distinctly recalled travelling to Cincinnati from New Castle with Mitzi Bassett, a black woman, my mom’s best friend of several years. During those days, she was extremely anti-racist and somebody who would not allow derogatory comments regarding black people be made in her presence. Whatever happened from that point up to now was a complete mystery, but I want that mentality to return with my mother.
In all, it was a nice visit. There were a couple of periods where I felt as if I were growing irritable from being cooped inside too long, or getting frustrated that some of the topics of conversation were inharmonious, but I maintained the focus on the positive things. My vegetarian diet was blown, but Bill’s chili is the best chili on Earth. In fact, I’m not even positive that it comes from this particular plane of The Universe. The 2nd best chili I've ever had is my own, and that’s but a shitty version of his chili.
Time spent with my mom always goes by too fast and leaving is difficult because I am never certain when exactly I will be returning. My mother did declare she would come visit me in Portland. That was assuring, because, aside from a few hour meeting with my brother, I did not see one single member of my family in 2012. I have to say, despite the fact that I am the obvious black sheep, I still love my family deeply. Many other families have full blown arguments and holidays filled with negative drama; we have but a couple minor differences that will eventually work themselves out, and I consider us to have a powerful, loving relationship.
Index: Chapter List
Chapter 15 Soundtrack Listing:
1. The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy
"Television, The Drug of the Nation" 6:39
Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury
2. Frank Zappa
"Trouble Every Day" 5:50
"The Product" 2:45
Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat
4. Black Flag
"TV Party" 3:31
5. The Clash
"Police & Thieves" 6:01
6. Gang of Four
"I Found That Essence Rare" 3:14
7. Love Is All
"Turn The Radio Off" 3:56
Nine Times That Same Song
8. Stephen Malkmus
"Pink India" 5:55
9. Kevin Drew
"Farewell to the Pressure Kids" 5:49
Before the Dawn Heals Us
All Sections Written, Designed, and Music Compiled by Tony J. Neal
Middle Image from www.ish, shared from Tumblr