I live next door to the most annoying couple in the world. You may have neighbors you donít get along with or neighbors that you have no use for, or neighbors with yapping dogs, or undisciplined children, or unkempt lawns. But I assure you, they canít hold a candle to the Fergusons. What makes the Fergusons such bad neighbors? The Fergusons donít have television.
No, theyíre not Amish. No, they are not living off the grid. No, they are not part of some bizarre behavioral experiment; they are not punishing their children, they are just pretentious snobs who think they are better than everyone else just because they donít have television.
Oh, they have a TV set and they watch movies on DVD, but they refuse to hook the thing up to cable or even an over-the-air-network. So whatís the problem? Why do I care? Itís their business, live and let live. The problem is they rub my face in it, they bring it up every chance they get.
ďArenít you sick of all the negative campaign ads,Ē I might say when we see each other in the driveway.
ďNo,Ē he says cheerfully, ďWe havenít seen any campaign commercials. Remember, we donít have TV.Ē
Like itís my job to remember they are the one family on the planet that doesnít have television. They just have to be different. People in poorest China and India can finally get television, but no, not the Fergusons, theyíre too good for that.
What he means to say when he says they donít have television is that they are better than we are. What he means to say is ďWe donít smoke television crack, like you weak-willed, pathetic infotainment junkies. We have better things to do with our valuable time than watch game shows and soap operas. We waste our time watching foreign films from Netflix.Ē
They are so smug.
If I canít remember that they donít have television, what are the chances Iíll remember that Beverly Ferguson is allergic to bell peppers? Too late I remembered I had put green peppers in the coleslaw. But really, can you make coleslaw any other way? Shouldnít it have been Beverlyís responsibility to know itís normal to put a little green pepper in coleslaw? If she watched all the cooking shows on television she might have known that. Sure enough, she exploded like one of those contestants on ďFear FactorĒ after eating only half of a giant, rancid slug. She could have tossed her salad on her side of the fence, but no, she spewed like Old Faithful all over ours. I donít know what she had for breakfast but now it was all over our rose bushes. Worse, the Fergusons didnít even offer to help clean up the mess. Donít people without television have any manners? A few afternoons of watching Dr. Phil might do the Fergusons a world of good.
Because they donít have television they havenít even heard that on Feb. 19, 2009 that all TV sets, even the one in their house that they donít watch, will explode killing everyone within a two-mile radius leaving a fatal radiation hot spot for tens of thousands of years to come.
Iím sorry, what? It wonít explode? You just wonít get a signal? And thatís only if your TV set is so old youíre still getting your TV signal from rabbit ears? That anyone who is already hooked up to cable or satellite wonít even notice the change? If a snowy screen is the worst that can happen, why are they running all these announcements 500 times a day like itís going to be the end of the entire world?
ďI wouldnít know,Ē said Bob Ferguson, ďRemember, we donít watch TV.Ē
I do remember. Iím just hoping they donít read the newspaper, either.
Jim Mullen is the author of ďIt Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple LifeĒ and ďBabyís First Tattoo.Ē You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2008, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.