The Reality Of TV

I’ve been dog-sitting. My brother and his family are on their way to Michigan for a well-deserved vacation. When you own two dogs, have twin 2-year-olds, and a loving wife for whom your term of endearment is “Commander,” Michigan may not be far enough.

(As a quick aside, I’m praying that my sister-in-law has forgotten how to read.)

Although I am glad when I can be helpful, I’m not really fond of dog sitting. House sitting, too, which is basically dog sitting minus eight legs.

It comes down to the fact that I just don’t like living in a home other than my own. Not that I couldn’t make it my own. I have permission. “Make yourself at home,” they always say.

Good! Let’s start by throwing away those cow bell wind chimes that kept me awake three nights last time. The hallway could use a coat of paint, too.

Translated, “make yourself at home” means “I’ll say anything to get out of here.” It ranks right up there with history’s second-oldest house / dog sitting ruse, “Eat anything you want out of the refrigerator,” whereupon you discover there’s only a half-eaten birthday cake inside, and four different brands of barbecue sauce in the door.

History’s oldest house / dog sitting ruse? “We won’t be gone long.”

Before digital data was invented, one of the things that used to make house / dog sitting worthwhile was watching cable television. I looked forward to seeing the shows that only city folks could get. The area where I lived was too remote for the big cable companies to serve, so we were left with only the shows our local provider, Duncan’s Auto Body and Cable, could offer.

Duncan didn’t have any television industry experience, but he discovered that his brother’s reupholstery shop backed right up to the downlink satellite dishes outside the cable company in the neighboring town. A set of well-placed jumper cables and a few spools of coaxial wire could provide limited programming.

It wasn’t long after settling back in the recliner this week that I realized the joys of multi-channel programming are over. Gone are The Sopranos, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. Now we have 90-Day Fiancé, 1,000 Pound Sisters, and Caught in the Act: Unfaithful.

It isn’t enough that these reality shows are voyeuristic and exploitative. My biggest issue with them is that they are just telling the same old stories. I heard this one years ago.

It was commonly known in my small town that Mr. and Mrs. Peyton were having issues. Some said there was even a pool started so people could wager on when the breakup finally occurred. Mrs. Peyton had even threatened to move back in with her mother in Phoenix.

One day, while getting her hair done at Mabel’s, Mrs. Peyton suggested that she might just go south, if only for a little break. She mentioned to Mabel that, because of scheduling issues, she had a four-hour layover that might give her time to sightsee.

“I’m so looking forward to seeing Austin,” she said.

Well, beauty shops being the noisy, gossipy places they are, it wasn’t long before the whole thing got out of hand.

Juanita Fisher, under the dryer after her wash and set, only heard part of the conversation. Immediately she thought the worst. Mrs. Peyton had something going on with Austin Melton. Austin Melton was notorious. The town gigolo purportedly made more “deliveries” in one day than our milkman.

She couldn’t wait to tell her husband when she got home.

By the time Mr. Peyton left the feed store the following morning, the news was all over town. Enraged, he raced his pickup truck down Pennsylvania Street to the bowling alley where Austin Melton headquartered. He walked up to the man, and without saying a word, punched him with all his might, squarely on the jaw.

Unfortunately for Mr. Peyton, three of Austin’s sons happened to be standing there, too, and pummeled Mr. Peyton mercilessly. When Mr. Peyton came to in the hospital, Mrs. Peyton was by his bedside.

“I’m so sorry the way I’ve treated you these past years. I love you.” he said. “Promise me you’ll never go back to Austin.”

“Austin?” Mrs. Peyton said. “Austin’s in Texas.”

“Good! I guess I showed him a thing or two.

John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media.