Here it is: The Alien Cable Guy, Part Deux. In last week’s episode we learned how a cable guy from far, far away in a distant galaxy was unable to perform the simplest hook-up in an upstairs apartment on Circuit avenue (mine.) What followed my disclosure was an unexpected event, proving it pays to have friends in the right places. My buddy, Bob Alger, who lives in Plymouth and works for Comcast, and with whom I’ve investigated haunted houses on the Island — Bob being the founder of the Pilgram Paranormal Research Society — rose to the challenge. One afternoon last week, in the period of time that it took for Bob to nibble a single-scoop chocolate ice cream cone from Ben & Bill’s, he supervised his Comcast pals, Scott and Donnie (also paranormalist nutties), in hooking up my cable.
I was touched by this unexpected gift but, on the other hand, I didn’t know exactly what to do with it. In the past I’d lived with a son and husband who lived for all the sports stations. I availed myself of HBO when the Sopranos were on, but that was about the extent of my television participation. I could truthfully say that I haven’t watched a television commercial in, oh, how many years ago was 1975? And now, suddenly, I was in possession of the first 99 channels in the Comcast lineup.
It was a little after five o’clock in the afternoon when I perched before my 21-inch television set, remote clicker in hand. Scanning the channels, I glimpsed five-second swatches of strangely grinning news anchors announcing a murder here, an assault there, a war here, a political snafu there; a ruby bracelet on offer from one shopping network, a pair of zircon earrings from another; commercials flashing like the end of the world was at hand so we needed to get our last compulsive purchasing done; and sitcoms and cop shows taped in the Pleistocene era. I have to confess that my reaction to each station’s brief spot was: “Oh ick!”
This initial revulsion was intense enough that I worried about hurting Bob’s feelings when that call from Comcast arrived and I would need to sign on for these 99 stations, and I would have to decline. But before that happened, I determined to try to get better acquainted with my suddenly activated television screen. That night I walked Huxley down to Jim’s Package Store and bought — actually paid money for, $2.99 to be exact — a TV Guide. The cover was smarmy in the extreme, with gaudy close-ups of television stars hugging and kissing and flashing their pearly whites. As always happens when you’re buying something that embarrasses you, inevitably someone comments on it. Loudly. On this occasion, a blustery guy in a screaming orange jacket said, “TV Guide? You’re buying a TV Guide? Look how big it’s gotten. I didn’t know anybody still bought TV Guides.”
It turned out to be a waste of $2.99 since the extremely complicated schedules gave only the names of the channels, not the numbers, so that if I chanced to find something wonderful to watch at, say, 8 p.m., I’d be spending the time from 8:01 to 8:19 flipping through the stations, trying to find the darn thing.
Finally relief arrived in the form of a perky woman in a straw boater who bounced into my store and, when she learned about my TV dilemma, offered a crash course on tv watching for the bookish and neurotic: The local stations are 13, 14, 15 and 76. the Discovery Channel is 44, Comedy Central 52, the History Channel is 55, Animal Kingdom 62, and PBS 9 and 11.
That was all I needed to get off to a rousing start. I even got to see myself on MVTV being interviewed by Ann Bassett. This might have been a rewarding experience had I not obsessed about my neck and how much it resembled a Corinthian column. The only time I wasn’t focused on my neck was when I turned my attention to Ann’s neck which looked flawless (note to self: ask Ann if she has neck-fuzzing cheesecloth on the camera trained on her.) But I digress . . .
Bravencore, the booster club of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School drama department invites you to support their big fundraiser on Sunday, May 18 at Lola’s. The group aims to complete construction on a fully equipped black box stage in the drama classroom, to establish a Shakespeare production script library for student actors and to fund a junior and senior one-week trip to New York city for theatre workshops with directors, actors, technical crews and playwrights. More details to follow about the May 18 bash, but get ready to participate in a truly worthy program.
In other news, Linda Skladzien is back on the Island and channeling queries and well-wishes for her dad, Ray, at 508-693-0742 and 561-214-0777.