Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Exclusive: A Betty's Story

Betty does not believe in calling in sick. As you know, I recently continued to go to the office even though I had the Cold That Would Have Put Another Woman In Bed For A Week. My condition at the time even prompted one of my colleagues to send the school nurse to me who merely confirmed that, while I was a nut, I was a nut with no fever and, while not blessing my continued existence there, she did leave my office without telling me to do the same. However, when the recent twenty-four hour bug hit our house, even Betty-O'-Steel was down and out. I won't go into the vivid details, but suffice to say that stepping outside of class to blow your nose is one thing, but stepping outside of class to blow out your entire lunch is quite another.

Taking every opportunity as a learning opportunity, and being completely off my regular schedule which Betty does not appreciate, (think Rainman and Dustin Hoffman's character's reaction to missing "The People's Court") I decided to try stabilize myself by staying on the couch (the one near the bathroom) and spend the daylight hours investigating the strange, intriguing world of daytime television. I found the usual soap operas and novellas, of course, but the real intellectual excitement started when I flipped to one of the upper channels and I discovered America's fascination with birth as we followed couple after couple every half hour as they 1) prepared to have a baby 2) went through labor and delivery and 3) took Baby home and settled in. Then, on the next channel up the dial, I discovered America's fascination with murder and gory details as a man with a spooky voice narrated the details of a horrendous murder, running through one murder every half hour or so.

Now, I may have missed some of the finer points (having to get up and vomit every so often) but soon the Academic in me started to emerge and I began to plot the sequencing of events, comparing the Baby Channel Show with the Murder Channel Show and I began to draw chilling parallels. Here are my findings:

The somewhat bland, but eerily cheerful introduction of characters comes first. It is about 7-8 minutes into the show when the tension and suspense begins. A mystery, a conundrum appears. There are vital questions planted in the mind of the viewers just before commercials. Will the couple arrive at the hospital in time? Why hasn't the normally-punctual employee arrived at the dry cleaners where she works? Commercial. Then the show returns. After two minutes of bringing the less-than-bright (LTB) viewer up to speed on what had just happened four minutes ago, there is a bit more action on the screen followed by more questions, piling up like snow on a windshield with broken windshield wipers. We can not see the answers, only travel down the treacherous road together in this vehicle of public entertainment which we have all gotten in of our own free wills. Will the baby have to be born via C-Section even though the couple has practiced for weeks for a vaginal birth? Is the disappearance of the gun and knife from the house of the troubled teen a sign that a murder is about to take place? Will Grandma and Grandpa flying in from the west coast make it in time for the birth? Will the ex-girlfriend call the current girlfriend to report the erratic behavior she has noticed from the maniacal, unbalanced boyfriend? Finally, (after more commercials and reviews of the action for the LTB) the climax occurs approximately 22-23 minutes into the show. The baby is born, the murder occurs; there is momentary stunned silence from all involved. There is the messy afterbirth/aftermath to deal with. Life completely changes for all the people involved. There are sleeping problems, visiting family members, ceremonies and rituals to go through. The shows end with reports on the main characters months after the events. Both are now used to their new environments adjusting fine to parents, siblings, cellmates and wardens alike.

Oh I think you can see by the time I had studied this, flipping back and forth to these channels in the middle of the shows, charting and graphing my evidence in an old notebook I had grabbed from the floor, I was pretty exhausted. I knew I had to conserve my energy and divert my attention, so I changed the channel to The Cooking Channel and then took a look at Home Improvement Channel. OH OH. I won't go into the details of the following four hours of intensive research, only offer this scratch outline of comparisons of programs :

1. Introduction of Raw Ingredients: Butter, Cauliflower, Bacon/ Drywall, Paint, Spackle.

2. Time Limitation Dilemma Introduced: Dinner ready in 30 minutes/Contractors with rug coming in hour.

3. Possible Problems/Areas of Concern: Heat up too high so food may burn/Humidity high so that paint does not dry fast enough.

4. Presentation: Plating, uncooked kale on white plate, candles on table/Staging, placing of sprigs of holly on mantel, candles on table.

5. Consumption of final product: "Oh, this is SO good! I love it!"/ "Oh, this is SO good! I love it!"

After discovering that National Geographic's "Predators of the Wild" and MTV's dating game show "Next" are on simultaneously, I am tempted to stay home and continue my research. However, my students need me to unravel the mysteries within Hamlet, so I must return to the mundane world of the bard.

Be forewarned, my readers, I did not sleep well at night during my illness and thereby also discovered the world of late-night AM radio. If this happens again, be prepared for my reflections upon various commercials for Erectile Dysfunction medications and discussions of Alien Abduction. Apparently, there's a lot of these things going on between the hours of 1:00am and 4:00am.


Anonymous said...

oh OH! please write a BB on the connection between ED and alien abduction. I am in a BIG X-Files phase, and that may just unlock what the *T*R*U*T*H* really is. It's out there.

Happy Homemaker said...

Bossy Betty has a Busy Brain.

Bossy Betty said...

To Elissa,

"ED Phone Home!"

To HH:

Why yes, I do have a busy brain! Thanks!