a monthly column
by A.C.E. Bauer
How to ruin TV
used to be a television junkie.
As a kid, I watched TV after school, after homework, after bed
(if I could sneak it in), every Saturday morning, anytime I
thought of sitting still. My parents, worried about my habit,
fed me books—which worked well, except that I was a speed
reader, and managed to fit in plenty of time for “The Streets of
San Francisco,” “Kojak,” “Star Trek,” and “All In the Family.”
In college, I discovered soap operas and “Saturday Night Live”
and I was sunk. My saving grace was that cable hadn’t been
invented (or if it had, wasn’t in common use), and most kids
didn’t go to college with their own set. So I only watched when
I visited home. The rest of the time, I fell back on books, and
devoured a fair number.
In law school, my roommates brought sets with them. My habit
resumed, full time—except that I had to complete a degree, and
that did require work. Besides, something strange was happening.
It began with shows about lawyers: I sat in front of the tube
and argued. “You’d never get to court that fast.” “No one,
absolutely no one, cross examines that way.” “That’s f***ing
unethical!” And then there was the all-purpose: “Oh, come on!”
I finally noticed that my mother, a computer engineer dating
back to the days when they used vacuum tubes, never watched
thrillers that hinged on computers. She’d fulminate: “They don’t
have blinking lights.” “You have to put it into code, for
heaven’s sake.” “What’s with all that useless tape?”
The nail in the coffin was having children. The last time I
allowed myself to watch a show where a kid was injured for
emotional effect, I almost smashed the box. The non-stop pitch
for sugar/plastic/ fat/ toys/ toys/toys/toys drove me bananas. And I
spent my time saying things like, “Even I could write better
dialogue than this.”
I turned the bloody thing off. I didn’t have time. I didn’t have
the energy. I most definitely did not have the patience.
More than a decade later, it has snuck back in. I watch it now
and again. My kids like the cartoons. Bill Nye the Science Guy
is entertaining. Sometimes there’s reasonably good theater. And
my husband is a die-hard baseball fan. But mostly, it stays off.
I like it that way.
The more I live and learn, the less TV makes sense. Life ruins
TV. Who would’ve thunk?
A.C.E. Bauer has been telling and writing stories since
childhood. She took a short break to write dreadful poetry in
college, and then a longer one while she worked as an attorney,
writing legal briefs and telling stories about her clients. She
has returned to fiction, and now writes children's books and
short stories for all ages. She was a finalist for the Tassy
Walden Award: New Voices in Children's Literature in both 2001
One of her stories has appeared in
Ladybug magazine, and a middle-grade, magical-realism novel
is scheduled for publication in autumn 2007. Born and raised in
Montreal, she spends most of the year in New England with her
family, and much of the summer on a lake in Quebec.
In the Rabbit Hole
began in December 2005
A love story
Breathing water and pine
"It's just a children's
Reconciling to the
A.C.E. Bauer at
acebauer at gmail dot com