Clearing your PVR is an exercise that is at once both satisfying and sad. Every now and then you spot an upcoming movie or TV show that you just *have* to watch – only, you know you don’t want to dedicate the full 30 minutes or hour doing so, as a good chunk of that time is devoted to commercials. AMIRITE??
So instead you plan ahead of time and schedule the PVR (Personal Video Recorder) to capture those shows for you, knowing that when it comes time to watch them, you can ultra-fast-forward through the commercials and watch “Breaking Bad” in its allotted 40 minutes of Real Time. In fact, I can’t recall the last time I watched a TV show in real-time, and had to suffer through the commercials. (I’m lying of course: I did watch Breaking Bad last night during real-time only because there was an internet event going on at the same time, where the show’s producers polled its audience on an event within the show that just took place. Not sure I’ll do it again – though it was fun.)
99% of the time though, it’s true: I won’t watch a show in real-time. The PVR has spoiled me. I have to say, out of all of the peripheral unneeded stuff I’ve purchased, the PVR has more than made up for itself in value. It’s still not a need but man oh man is it ever a “nice to have”.
A lot of friends will say “you know, I don’t have a TV set at all. Haven’t had one since I was married/divorced/the kids moved/I became enlightened.” There’s usually a disapproving snit in their voices and body expressions which hint at the thought that “anyone who watches TV is an unthinking Neanderthal, content to be a voyeur of life, instead of living it themselves. Not only that, what they’re watching isn’t real. They’re voyeurs of *fantasy* life – unless they’re watching ‘reality TV’ which again isn’t representative of true life anyway.” (You can hear the haughty sniff, right?)
They could be right. But whenever I catch wind of that snootiness, I like to play it up a bit. “Yeah, if I didn’t have to work every day, I’d sit there on my lounge chair, wearing nothing but my boxer shorts, with one hand comfortably ensconced in my waistband, and the other hand drowning in a bowl of Cheetos. Used to do it all the time actually. Not sure if it was that, or the excessive burping that went on because of all of the beer but the upshot of it all is that my wife and I are divorced.”
Watching the painful polite nod is worth the effort of the lie.
The truth is: I enjoy creativity in the arts. Hence, I won’t watch reality TV, nor will I watch most mainstream predictable fare either. On the odd occasion, I’ll watch something I’ve already seen, because it’s that good. It’s entertaining, and it tickles a part of my own creativity that thirsts for the flight of imagination and thought.
Yesterday, I finally cleared my PVR of all the programs that were on there. The last one, which I’d recorded and kept for a few weeks, was the classic Meg Ryan movie “You’ve Got Mail.” I know that if I had posted this on Facebook, there would have been one friend who would’ve sent me a mock-horror cyber punch in the arm: Tommy Blaze has been known to leave such one-word comments on my Facebook updates. Usually that word is “homo”. Once when I revealed my knowledge of bed sheet thread-counts, he flung that word at me. He and I have always kidded each other about one thing or the other so his fake-disgust is sort of expected. Also, it’s good for the shock factor – with which professional comedians like him have a long-standing love affair. That word is – you know – *SO* unpolitically-correct, as everyone knows. At least he knows enough not to use the “F” word. (Which *everyone* also knows is “Fabulous”).
Anyway, I don’t know the meaning of the expression “male shame” when it comes to romantic comedies. I’ll watch them without apology or regret, providing that they’re good. A great many of them are lame, such that I find my testosterone levels depleting if I watch one for too long.
Anyway, “You’ve Got Mail” is a great film that I’ve seen a number of times. Partly because I can’t get enough of Meg Ryan, and partly because the message is actually pretty cool. Nora Ephron – who wrote this one as well as a bunch of others in the same vein – was excellent at communicating some interesting truths, some of which weren’t (in my opinion) true at all. Her wisdom shows up in the dialogue scenes between the leading actors.
There is one “truth” that came out in one of her films that caught society by surprise. It showed up in an exchange between Billy Crystal (who played “Harry”) and Meg Ryan (who played “Sally”) in the movie “When Harry Met Sally”. It was summed up in his statement to her: “…..no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.”
Her followup volley and his response to that was nothing short of hilarious:
Sally: “So, you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?”
Harry: “No. You pretty much want to nail ’em too.”
Don’t know what it’s like for those reading this, but in my neck of the woods, the debate continues. Women were astounded by it, and many asked their mates if indeed that was true. Guys everywhere shrugged their shoulders in disbelief, just then realizing that the more powerful sex – women – didn’t already know this. Some of the more frightened weasels among us said “of *course* it’s not true, sugar dumpling. How could you think that?”
As for me, I think the truth of that statement is a sliding scale. When I was much younger (14) I was head over heels attracted to a married woman whose husband had moved to the opposite coast to get their new home set up. She was a 20-something friend who introduced me to alcohol. She had an infectious and sexy laugh and sparklingly bright teasing dark eyes. I had zero experience, so figured my attraction was a one way street, only to learn later that it was not. The fact that I didn’t follow up with her on it is both a blessing and a curse. Probably more of a blessing than anything.
Today, I’m friends with a few married women to whom I’m attracted. Now, however, I know that part of what makes them attractive is the fact that they’re happily married. The minute that changes (say, by cheating) is the minute they change and become different people. The logic is there: endangering that marriage is equivalent to chopping down a beautiful tree, just so that you can bring it to your yard and prop it up against the wall to admire. You’ve changed the tree, and it will start to die, right away.
Also, there’s an important distinction: I may want to be with them in a carnal sense, but my sense of personal integrity will never allow me to indulge that attraction. So in that sense, Nora Ephron’s “truth” is not true at all. One can be friends with someone who isn’t available, only if one’s behaviour is informed by one’s ethics.
The scale of attraction has changed over the years too. There are a great many physically attractive women out there who I find are anything but beautiful. The women who truly sparkle have a sense of humility, charm and serenity to them. The haughty rude and entitled women (and men too, I imagine) are the opposite of attractive, in the most emphatic sense.
Yet, that’s my story – which means it isn’t everyone else’s story. There are countless examples of attempted friendships between people who are attracted to each other where they’ve ended up in each others’ arms. Anecdotal evidence – in this case – fails completely.
I’d like to know: have you had this discussion with anyone? What do you think about it? Did you reach a conclusion? Can guys be friends with women to whom they are attracted?