I live in a foreign land, with a foreign man, and his foreign clan – but wait, there’s more!
I love to watch TV – in languages I don’t understand. I love to watch body inflections from other cultures devoid of verbal distraction. Soap Operas, Reality TV, News and Entertainment, Pay TV … it’s such a relief to be relieved of wordy intellect and simply watch the Human Show. That’s why I couldn’t wait to unwrap our new Xmas gift; a 40 kilometre HD screen with sonic surround sound straight out of a Stones concert at the O2 Arena. That is how good I was told this viewing experience would be.
I no habla Tech; in Espagnol, in Italiano, in Japanese-Turkish-Hindi-Inuit, nor in any of the other Martian tongues represented in our new Samsung TV’s User Guide (including English – a Martian dialect).
In other words … I-Don’t-Talk-Tech, COMPRENDO?
Husband is at workio. Kids are at schoolio (as in University – in other lands). And I am all alonio with too many remote controls and not enough food to sustain this brain-drain. I’m overworked and the computer has decided to crash early in this New Year. So all I want to do on my one day off before the year races ahead of me is channel surf. Zombie style. Zap zap zap, comprendo? I do not care what they’re saying. I do not care what they’re thinking. I just need to unwind and not use my mind. I need to zap. My darling workaholic bought this for us but had no time to install it because … he had no time.
So there we are, Sam(sung) and I, staring at each other like a Mexican Standoff wondering who’s going to make the first move. I spend the first few minutes removing Mr. Sung from his carton and arranging the packaging debris for recycling. Then I inhale deeply (because I know what’s coming) and get down to the essentials. For the next hour I admire the alphabetic riddle of multiple world languages translated in Sam’s bible while gently hyperventilating. I wonder how it’s possible that the consummate college education never equipped me with communication skills for electronic devices, comprendo?
The refrigerator is already plugged in. At least I know how that functions. I gently hyperventilate towards the kitchen to open the door and defer to food. No User Manual for that manoeuvre (though I sure don’t comprendo this gooey leftover our neighbours gifted us for the holidays yet I’m diving in anyway).
The belly mission is successful and it’s back to the telly. I’ve now stuffed myself with stuff I wasn’t even hungry for and I’m having another stare-off with Sam. I admire his 24 remote controls with 3500 buttons allowing me to do absolutely nothing because I don’t understand them, comprendo? He stares at me blankly. I stare back – at my disheveled and frustrated self in his shiny black screen which reflects the worst of my human condition and no way to zap it away, comprendo?
I get more antsy. More agitated. Then I get wise. I will meditate. I’ve been practicing this for years. Initially it was for 30 minutes daily trying to eek out three seconds of quiet. Then one particularly clear day I had an epiphany. Why waste 30 precious minutes to claim the purity of three when I can just do it in three? I’ve whittled down the wisdom ever since and today, I shall seize those three once again. I cross my legs, bow my head, and focus on nothing (except the TV). I watch it. It watches me. We watch each other – doing nothing. The blank screen. The blank stare. The sleek shape and contour (Sam’s). Those seconds of depletion nee surrender. Then I fall asleep. Yep, nothing like great TV.
Hours later I awaken to Sam’s unforgiving stare. And now I am 3 seconds passed pissed. Fed UP. Our lack of contact has pushed all my (control) buttons – in every language, comprendo? I will defy this wise guy named Sam. I’m going out; to the Cinema, Ha! Here I will find a way to passively pass the day, and in a way that Live Theatre can never convey.
Live theater is interactive. The rapore between actor and audience is like an intense short-term relationship – or prostitution. Both parties implicitly agree that I will neither sleep, snore, nor text during your performance and you will please me, for a fee.
But here’s my problem: when I go to the theatre I also perform for you. I know you can see me, hiding in my last row of the rear of the uppermost tier. And I know you want me to like your performance. It’s called Sex. If you spend 2 hours not pleasing me and I have to fake it because I don’t want to hurt your feelings, I will leave feeling frustrated. Even moreso, without my refund. I can not tweak your performance mid-show, from my back row. And so, in that dim theatre as I try to shrink below that tall person seated in front of me, I am highly aware that you can detect me liking you or not with your night-vision-actor’s-radar. Going to the theatre creates reverse performance anxiety – for me. It’s an exhausting no-no, comprendo?
That is why I have finally found comfort at 3pm on this clammy afternoon on Earth at … The Cinema, ta da! I am deeply embedded in hardened crust etched into my broken seat of this skanky old playhouse where I have just toppled the arm rest which was unsuccessfully scotch taped to the metal frame … and where blessedly, no one can see my reactions except me. There is no User Guide in sight and this afternoon’s flick is entitled “Rohmanticho Dusjyek Vlspiktiz Glibidjzk”, an Italo-Siberio-Serbian co-production with subtitles in Sanskrit.
Halleluhah … something I can finally enjoy, comprendo?