As Seen On TV

Everybody knows my name at Chipotle, I guess...

Sometimes I sit and fantasize about how normal and well adjusted I’d be if not for TV. I mean, just imagine if I’d been one of those weird kids whose parents didn’t even have a TV, and all I ever did was read books, frolic in the trees, and churn butter or whatever the hell people without TV do when the rest of us were watching Wheel Of Fortune.

For one, this blog would probably just be about interesting wildflowers I’d picked recently and recaps of heated games of pinochle with my parents. Also, I’d probably be a lot happier.

For the past few weeks I’ve been going back and forth over whether my move to North Hollywood was a good idea or not. Regular readers will remember that I wrote a fairly extensive blog shortly after signing the lease in which I explained my hesitance regarding the San Fernando Valley and the distance the move would put between me and my friends, but ultimately decided that it made sense because it would put me closer to my job.

I’m not good at many things, but I’m great at doing something and then convincing myself afterward that I made the best possible decision. In 6th grade I asked for and received a Nintendo Gamecube for Christmas, and it immediately proved to be by far the worst of the video game systems available at the time. I, however, became a fully fledged Nintendo fanboy, spending hours on the school bus and the Internet desperately and futilely defending the Gamecube as the greatest game system ever.

Of course, it wasn’t, but it was far easier for me to lie to myself and tell me I was happy than it was to confront the ugly truth that I had squandered my one big ticket gift of the year on a purple box that came with Universal Studios Theme Parks Adventure as a launch title.

North Hollywood is nowhere near as big of a blunder as my Gamecube – I can ride my bike to work instead of driving 20 miles each way and paying over $4 a gallon for gas, whereas all the Gamecube ever did for me was give me an opportunity to play Crazy Taxi without having to go to a movie theater arcade – but when I’m not on my bike I find myself counting the months until my lease is up.

The fact is, while I can ride my bike to work, I have to spend half an hour in the car to go see most of my friends, and that sucks like nine different kinds of dick. Getting caught in traffic on the 405 and being late to the office means I miss out on some work; when I’m late to hang out with my friends, I’m missing valuable 20something shenanigans, and unlike work, those won’t be around forever.

I wind up spending a lot of time alone – which was something that I was really excited about pre-move, but I guess I’m not as antisocial as I’d thought. For all the frustrations of roommates – and trust me, I have not forgotten about them – there’s still nothing quite like coming home on a Wednesday to discover your roommates getting drunk on the back porch because they’re bored and then immediately joining them.

So I guess my big gripes are that I have to drive to see my friends, I’m only really social on the weekends, and most of my weeknight evenings are me in bed getting straight up crazy with some Netflix.

I’ve got great financial security, zero debt, my apartment complex is very well managed, and I’m white, so the only way I’m getting arrested is if I actually do something wrong. I’m currently better off than a sizable number of people my age – or people in general – but I’m miserable because I’m slightly bored.

Why is that?

Television. That’s why.

Never in my life have I been more like a character on the sitcoms I grew up watching. I’m a young guy in the big city with a little disposable income in his pocket at long last – according to Cheers and Seinfeld, I ought to be spending every spare moment in either a bar or a coffee shop with my best friends, having witty banter and generating sexual tension. Sure, Frasier eventually moved far away from all his friends, but his condo was always full of eccentric people doing crazy things and having even more sexual tension.

Of course, I know these shows are all bullshit – nobody really spends all their time having a ball with their conveniently located friends, making great memories and occasionally learning lessons about stuff. But for most of my formative years, those shows were my sole impression of what young, single adulthood was, and it’s tough to undo that damage.

So if I’d grown up without TV, I’d probably be a lot happier right now (nevermind the fact that TV was the only reason I moved to LA in the first place). I’d be content to play solitaire and see my friends on the weekends, and just accept the leisurely pace that life was doling out.

But because TV ingrained in me an impossible standard for my social life, I’m not satisfied, and I’m doing my damndest to improve it. For the past week now I’ve been fighting past the social anxiety that has been a hallmark of this blog and actively making plans with people to get out and do things, every night. I went to three different bars with work friends on weeknights and spent Christ knows how much on non-well drinks, just like a grown up on TV. 

The Gamecube was a bad choice, and I covered for it by lying to myself. North Hollywood was a questionable choice, and I guess I’m going to cover for it by trying to turn it into an outright good one. Sure, I may not be able to spend every night in a bar having witty banter and sexual tension, but even three nights a week with some halfway decent banter would be a vast improvement over where I am now. And sexual tension with anyone would be welcome – right now I’ve only got sexual tension with myself, and that never lasts too long because I’m kind of a slut.

Truman Capps wasn’t really into Metroid, hence his tepid memories of the Gamecube.