Thursday, July 30, 2009

So what if everyone knows what you watch?

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Editorial Page

Ever since the cable and satellite TV companies came out with digital video recorders, I've been a huge fan. If you're still living in the world of VCRs, these new machines record to a computer hard drive instead of tape. Setting up timers is a breeze using the onscreen guide, so basically you're no longer a slave to the TV schedule because you watch what you want, when you want.

I recently switched cable providers, preferring to bundle all my services with one company. Although my new service isn't as robust as the old one, I'm sure it will eventually catch up as the company improves its TV software and range of offerings.

A couple of weeks ago, I started having problems with my new DVR, which had only been installed in May. It was skipping shows, freezing and generally just not operating the way it should. Thinking the problems may go away on their own, I unplugged the machine, rebooted it several times and prayed. Eventually, nothing worked, so I got frustrated and called technical support.

The cable provider I have has excellent customer service. I've never once had an issue where they weren't on top of it right away. Even when my telephone service was down during a strike once, they showed up within hours and fixed it immediately. (My telephone, cell, Internet, long distance and cable are all provided by the same company.)

Long story short, they told me they would reformat the hard drive (the computer disk) in the machine, which they could do remotely from their office. I didn't know this was even possible, but it was, so that was great.

What I didn't realize was that the technician who was on the telephone with me could see what I'd recorded. Oh boy... my guilty pleasures would now be fodder for mocking around the technicians' lunch table -- I was sure of it!

You see, I don't always tape the manliest of shows. You know how some men dress in women's clothes in the privacy of their own home? Well, I don't do that, but this was pretty close. Along with a week's worth of Road to Avonlea reruns, I also had several episodes of Ghost Whisperer, Judge Judy and The View.

Now, before you all send me Get Well Soon cards for what you're assuming is my eventual gender reassignment surgery (not that there's anything wrong with that), I need to confess that I like shows that are... uhm... OK, OK... I like little old lady shows. There, are ya happy?

Maybe seeing my grandmother watch The Edge of Night when I was kid had a profound effect on me, I don't know. But for the love of all that is holy, I sometimes wonder whether I shouldn't be wearing a 25-year-old nightie all day and sitting around the house wearing curlers with the heat turned on in the middle of July. And I shouldn't forget the lit cigarette dangling from my mouth and the tepid cup of tea resting on my lap.

Had I known the technician was going to peek into my most intimate secrets -- "Sir, do you realize the shows you have taped are pretty much what people in nursing homes watch?" -- I would have lied to him and told him that I live with an elderly aunt, or that I have an invalid neighbour who I wheel over every afternoon to watch The View while I feed her Lean Cuisine dinners pureed in my blender.

Instead of making up a story, I decided to come clean and make a joke of it. "Oh you see my embarrassing shows, eh?" By then, I was expecting him to start yelling out to his technician friends, "Hey guys! Look at what this loser of a dude in Moncton watches! My dead grandmother watches cooler shows than these!"

While I stuttered out my secret, the young technician offered me some comfort. "Oh that's OK! I know a guy who's my age who never misses Coronation Street." Phew! Thank goodness. Road to Avonlea fans have nothing on those nutty Coronation Street freaks, eh? (Should I start wearing a bulletproof vest?)

I'm not too proud to flaunt my favourite shows to the world, even if they're not all about police chases, ultimate fighting, hunting or football. I'm comfortable enough with myself to admit that I watch the odd episode of Martha Stewart, the occasional Little People Big World, and have a shed a tear of two watching a family with a couple of dozen blind foster kids on crutches get a new house on Extreme Home Makeover.

To make matters worse, I've also lately become fascinated with a nun named Mother Angelica reciting the Holy Rosary daily on EWTN, a Catholic-themed network. I don't know what there is about it. Maybe it's relaxing. Maybe it's "I didn't go to church last Sunday" guilt, I don't know. I think it's the meditative, trance-like state that one finds themselves in when listening or praying.

Sometimes, I just need some fluff and brain candy to relax to, you know? Is that so wrong? So what if I want to watch Road to Avonlea reruns or a bunch of nuns reciting the Holy Rosary? (I'm trying to convince myself. Work with me here, folks.)

Maybe I should take up bungee jumping for excitement. Well, that likely won't happen since I get dizzy and a suffer nosebleeds when I stand on my tiptoes. I guess I'll just have to keep watching my positively unmanly shows. Anyone know where I can buy an XXXL nightie and a good set of curlers?

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