Thank God for the television. That it exists, such an appliance, which gives purpose and meaning of life to those who use it regularly!
It is just such a device that showed me a happy Ellie last Friday, on the first day I’ve seen her since high school. She was wearing a purple polo shirt. Her usual shoulder-length black hair with bangs that had not changed for years was tied up in a purple elastic. She also wore jeans and white runners. Glancing down at my own shoes, I wondered when I stopped wearing those things.
We had riveting conversation over fish and chips, the weather being perfect for that sort of thing. We talked about everyone we new, and all the old stories got tossed together with the new stories, and the rumours, and the gossip, and the number of kids so-and-so had with whom.
Eventually, we ran out of things to talk about. We began to talk about ourselves. Me, you already know, and I’m not so interesting, either. Ellie, on the other hand,…
She’s a road construction worker now. Since being pushed violently out of her childhood home, she had taken up the job in the hopes of one day finishing college, but she never went back. After years of standing under the sun, her skin has toughened. She told me that she smiles and enjoys the fresh air, is sympathetic to those who are not so fortunate.
The television saved her. After getting basic cable for the first time, bundled with her home phone line, her whole life changed. She goes home every night with something to look forward to. Every night – and she memorized the television schedule and could recite it to me with pride – a new episode of an ongoing, absolutely exciting series would be showing just for her. She curls up every night on the sofa in front of that wonderful machine, tea in hand, blanket on her lap, the beautiful screen in front of her. Her home may be empty, but her life is complete.
Marvelling at her exuberance in the face of my own, miserable life, I asked her to describe a series for me. Her eyes lit up with stars, and then her mouth began to quiver on the edge of a miracle. I listened to her speak in another language I did not understand and became confused, hopefully not noticeably. Something about Steve and Jake (or was it Jane?) doing something and the police. One of them held a powerful secret. All over the city, with lights and close to the end of present day as we know it, there is an incurable disease. And remarkable, inexplicable, astonishing wonderment of existence, the incomprehensible World!
Maybe I’ll try watching the show first, if I can remember what it’s called. I’ll let you know if it is interesting.