Being thirty, I can remember a few things that date me. I remember when that girl fell down the well in Texas. I remember the first time I successfully pegged my own pants. I remember the rise and fall of Milli Vanillli. I also remember when Maury Povich, along with Phil Donahue and an unknown woman named Oprah Winfrey, was a legitimate talk show host.
This week is ski week, and along with being a reminder of why it is I got into teaching in the first place, it has given me some free time to channel surf during the day. Today I found Maury, and while I marveled at whatever self-tanner he's using (it's fabulous, really), the topic of the show pulsed at the bottom of the screen:
'If you slept with my Mom, the wedding is off!'
In college I took a class called 'Contemporary Fiction by Women'. On the first day I learned the true definition of the word feminist, and embraced my new descriptive with fervor. I have memories of watching Maury (or Jerry, or Ricki, or whoever) in my twenties and shouting in my new feminist self righteousness phrases of disgust in which I repeated the words 'exploitation' and 'outrage' more than once.
Today I was just confused. Honestly confused. Maury Povich still gets an entire hour every week day of cat fights, bleeped out swear words, and baby-daddy drama. It's been ten years since I've heard anything about Mystery Science Theater 3000, arguably one of the best TV shows of all time. Arrested Development was canceled after only three fantastic seasons. We still have no cure for cancer. Bin Laden remains undercover. But Maury is still on. How can this be?
As I sat in front of the TV contemplating the American psyche, L came into the living room asking me how I could watch such trash. He took a seat next to me on the couch, rolling his eyes and mimicking what each person said. We stayed there for about twenty minutes as though zombies, dreamily reminding each other we should get up and do stuff, that this shit was making us stupider by the second.
But we didn't. We stayed comatose in front of the TV. And in the back of my mind I wondered about how airplanes fly in the air, how Ryan Seacrest maintains his rigorous hosting schedule, how long it will be before we can say we have won the war on terror, and if Maury and Connie drink wine or champagne every night when they toast to all of us suckers.