Prior to retiring, I envisioned very simple, initial pursuits for myself. I suspect Gorgeous wishes that they might be a little more robust, but for the moment they are exactly what I want. Later, when I feel I finally have my bearings in this new life, I’ll tackle more adventurous tasks, such as the utter elimination of Facebook. But that requires more energy than I currently have.
Number one on my to-do list is to finally tackle the Robert Caro biographies of Lyndon Johnson. I have wanted to read these books for so many years. Now I have the time to do so. I also plan to re-read the entire Harry Potter series in advance of our visiting Harry Potterworld next year. My parents never took us to amusement parks, so this boy’s gonna make up for lost time.
Something else I wanted to do was start this blog. The jury is decidedly out on that.
Finally, it was my stated intention to sit my tushy down on the couch and watch LOTS of old movies and classic TV shows. Between the Me-TV network and Turner Classic Movies I’ve got quite an offering.
I have never been a couch potato. My ex, the Revisionist, was. This often created nightly tensions between us. Gorgeous watches even less than me, and so I find myself in the strange position now of being the one encouraging her to sit down with me.
We do have our favorites of the current shows: Mad Men, Downton Abbey, and Modern Family to name three. I also watch the Sunday morning news shows, and I’m even enough of a dinosaur that I still watch one of the three broadcast network nightly newscasts. But for most of my working years, I largely avoided watching much television.¹
Now, however, I’m regressing. I’m again watching the TV shows of my youth. Courtesy of MeTV, the shows from that time are again available 24/7, and I even record them on our DVR. To my shock, after she finishes with her clients late at night, Gorgeous has actually been asking, “Is there a Perry Mason on that thing?” She means the DVR. To my knowledge, she’s never turned on our TV once since we got married. I’m not sure she even knows how.
In addition to Perry Mason, I’m having a steady diet of Adam 12, The Rockford Files, Green Acres, and Andy Griffith. I’m also searching ahead of time on the classic movie channels to record the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, and Grace Kelly.
There is one major difference in watching these shows now as opposed to forty years ago: The commercials are different. I no longer see the Man from Glad or the Ajax laundry detergent knight riding the horse. In order to make money, these smart cable networks are showing an awful lot of senior-related products for hearing aids, incontinence, and Medicare insurance supplements. Thankfully I don’t need any of these things — yet. But I did take note the other evening that I watched each commercial in its entirety.
This regression is a phase. These shows are comfort food for me at a moment when it feels good to look in the rear view mirror. Watching old TV is like attending a class reunion: You enjoy seeing old friends and interacting with those with whom you once spent some time together. But after a while, you come to realize that only thing you really have in common are those years and times. You’ve grown, developed new tastes, and see things differently now than you once did.
And of course, there is the realization that most of these TV shows are simply awful. Except for a few gems, such as the Dick Van Dyke Show, they are predictable and border on being insipid. Watching the old movies is fun, and many are indeed classics. But I’m sure I’ll also tire of Andy Hardy at some point too.
For now, though, I am enjoying my reunion with old friends. Later this evening I’ll be waiting for a “Just one more thing” coming out of Peter Falk’s mouth.
¹ For the record, I think The Sopranos is the greatest show I’ve ever seen. Seinfeld, Six Feet Under, and Northern Exposure are also big favorites of mine.