The reality of no TV

Dan McDonald
Staff Writer

I didn’t watch the Super Bowl.


I’m probably the only guy in the Nielson rating’s middle-aged-man demographic who missed it.

In fact, I haven’t watched a live sporting event on TV since I moved here in March of last year.

And it’s been a little agonizing for a life-long television junkie like myself.

I crave my all-day sports, 24-hour news and “American Pickers.” Sometimes I even linger on C-SPAN, even though I detest politics.

I love watching The Masters golf tournament, The History Channel and even that clown-boy Jim Cramer shouting about the stock market.

But for the last 11 months I’ve had none of it. Not even an infomercial.

You see, I don’t have TV.

Actually that’s not true. I have a souped-up 50-inch Sony flat screen with surround sound as the centerpiece of our living room.

She’s a beauty. A zero-to-260-channels-in-a-matter-of-seconds type of beautiful.

I just don’t have it hooked up.

Lazy? Nope. Oversight? Hardly. Finances? Not yet.

It started as a matter of priorities. After spending most of the day at the newspaper and the rest of it tending to the guests at my family’s lodging business, there simply weren’t any hours left.

Why bother with the TV when I wouldn’t have time to watch it anyway?

But then something happened. Winter set in, the vacationers went home, and I was left staring at the black-hole Sony.

Reality has set in. Not reality TV. Real reality.

I’ve had my finger on the button that dials DIRECTV’s friendly sales staff at least a dozen times over the past few months. I’ve been seconds away from securing 360 channels and the ability to record all of them at once if I want.

So, what’s stopping me?

Well … me.

I made a damn bet. One of those silly wagers we make with ourselves on Jan. 1 that usually last until about Jan. 3.

A couple months into the self-imposed television abyss I bet myself I could go 365 days without unleashing the Sony. Trust me, it’s easier to go a year without a beer than go cold turkey on the tube.

I’ve not only missed The Masters for the first time since 1967, I missed the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship.

I missed the NBA Finals, the World Series and (this is killing me) THE SUPER BOWL.

I missed all the worldwide real-time breaking news.

I missed our Special Forces capping Osama bin Laden and some of his pals. I heard about it from a phone call. The last time I got my news that way the caller was using a rotary phone.

For a news junkie who craves trivia and current events … this has been like an old-fashioned bread-and-water prison diet.

But even inmates watch TV. I’m pretty sure it’s considered cruel and unusual punishment to deny convicts their “Oprah.”

Actually, Shelley and I do watch a little fake TV. You know, Netflix and some of those boxed DVD sets.

We turn it into a real event. Turn down the lights, stoke the fire and nuke popcorn and other goodies.

We are halfway through the fifth season of “24.” That Jack Bauer is one death-cheatin’ dude. And he never dies. His co-workers? They die a lot.

But we’ve learned that back-to-back-to-back episodes of watching Jack almost die before we go to bed isn’t the best segue to a good night’s sleep.

The next morning I stand paralyzed for a few seconds at the Express Coffee Shop and catch the 24-hour news channel out of the corner of my eye. I feel like some guy standing outside a TV store watching a black and white Zenith in the days before everybody had one.

But going without HBO, “Justified” and “Deadliest Catch” has opened my eyes to a new world. I’m doing things I should have been doing all my life. Like, well … living.

I hike more, fish more, write more and read more.

I bet I’ve read about 50 books since March. I just read that Steve Jobs could be a real ass. And I’ve been reminded why Stephen King scares the living &*%# out of people.

I’ve met my neighbors and remembered their names.

I’ve played hundreds of games of Scrabble, rummy and Yahtzee.

I’ve even talked to my wife. Not the usual “I love you, honey” stuff either. I’m talking philosophy, feelings, ideas, goals, dreams, stuff like that.

You laugh? Try it for a week.

It’s amazing how much you can learn about a person when you aren’t channel surfing.

I’ve even started working out. Well, OK, I joined the gym. That’s almost like working out.

One of these days I’m actually going to go inside the health club and ride a stationary bike or something.

Hmmm … There are dozens of TVs in there.

Maybe I better wait until March.

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