Ten years, you guys.
For ten years, whenever Andy would ask “What do you want for your birthday/anniversary/Christmas?” my answer was always the same:
Throw away the TV.
And I was dead serious.
I hate TV. Truly. I didn’t have one through most of college, and even when I did finally get a bitty 19″, I never hooked up cable and it didn’t get flipped on for weeks at a time.
It’s just…boring. I mean, sure, Jersey Shore can offer up some mindless entertainment (are you judging?), and a girl can live vicariously through a few episodes of Say Yes to the Dress…but really, I’m not a fan overall. It’s not a judgy self-righteous thing…just simply something I genuinely don’t enjoy. Like mountain climbing. Or yoga in a 200 degree room. Or cleaning toilets.
Plus, the noise…oh the constant buzzing noise!!! Gives me anxiety. Anxiety!
Ironically, with a house of almost four kids, I like quiet. And even if I can’t get “quiet”, I’ll take “nothing but the sounds of kids”. So, yeah…I don’t listen to Pandora or CDs or have books on tape playing either. It’s just me, the kids, and whatever noise we are making…good and bad. (And let me be clear: my house is not quiet. Not even close. It is loud. We all have big voices and I’m not sure my kids have any concept of the theory of the Inside Voice. So please don’t picture some sweet serene sanctuary, because you will be duly disappointed the second you walk through my door.)
Now. Let me tell you how RIDICULOUSLY OPPOSITE my husband and I are.
He needs noise. Sound. At all times. Constant. In fact, the first year we were married, we were both in our last year of college…and many of our first arguments came when we were trying to study. He needed music or TV in the background to concentrate, and I…needed quiet. If he “won”, I didn’t get a lick done. If I “won”, he couldn’t string together a thought. In fact, to this day, as an aerospace engineer, doing complicated math all day long, he sits with a pair of Bose headphones listening to music or streaming old episodes of random TV shows at work. All. Day. Long. He even needs the constant white noise of a fan at night to sleep.
When he got home: the TV was flipped on immediately…and then he would leave the room. Weekends: he would watch TV in the morning and then go out to the garage, and I’d finally turn it off HOURS later, because you know, everyone was outside anyway, and it was like an emergency button would go off in his brain (Submarine Down! We’ve been hit!) and he’d be like “Hey! I was watching that!”
What? No you were not! You were in the garage. With the radio on. And you have been. For the last three hours. How on EARTH were you watching that?! Do you have x-ray vision I need to know about?
But you see, it’s kinda not his fault. It’s his mom’s. Well, not even that. I’m not throwing her under the bus. Because when she told me this, I thought….”aaaaaahhhhh. Okay, I get it. I still hate it, but I totally get it.”
She was a single mom for most of her boys’ young life. She lived in a mountain town. Alone, with two little boys. She needed noise. Because the house was too quiet without it. Every bump and thump and crick made her jump. So she drowned it out by having sound. Now it makes sense, right?
And then it was paying the danged cable bill every month. Look, I don’t much like paying any of the bills to be honest, but the cable bill?! Ohmyword. Each and every month I audibly groaned and died a little bit inside. We pay HOW MUCH each and every month for mediocore programming to be streamed through our television???? You know what I can DO with that much money every month???? Dude.
Andy’s biggest obstacle to ever giving into my TV-less demands all boiled down to one word: SPORTS. Beyond that, he didn’t mind the idea of cutting cable since there are now plenty of other ways to get content.
You see, even though you can subscribe to Netflix and Hulu and get free stuff on the web…you can’t stream sports. And my boy is a sports guy. His first love is basketball. If I loved him at all, how could I possibly ask him to not watch his beloved Lakers play? How could I possibly separate the bond of he and Kobe? And March Madness??? What then?! He could feel his blood pressure dropping and his heart rate slowing. He almost flat lined thinking about it.
So, for ten years, the ever present squeak, squeak, squeak of sneakers on hardwood wafted through my house. Chants of “Defense! Defense! Defense!” and “Aiiiiiiirrrrrballllllll!” floated up in to the rafters.
And I paid the cotton pickin’ cable bill through clenched teeth.
And you know that cable bill just mysteriously kept going up and up and up…every month. New surcharges and taxes and magical fees just kept making that number creep higher and higher.
Finally, one day, I really looked at the bill. It was now over $150. A month. I saw that the internet portion was $60 and the TV part was $90…plus another almost $10 for taxes and whatevers. Now, internet is a must. No, no, not just for blogging and Pinterest…but with a husband who is self-employed, he needs to have access to his email and work stuffs, and he most often skips working late at the office to be home for dinner every night…and then does some work late when the rest of us are asleep anyway (he’s a nightowl). My point being that we can’t cut internet. That $60 is non-negotiable.
But we pay $90 a month for no other real reason than to watch some Laker games???? Okay, really. That’s A LOT of money for one very specific reason. So I went to him and said: “Do you realize we spend almost $100 per month so that you can watch basketball? I mean, that’s $1,200 a year. For a handful of games. Is it really, truly worth that much to you? If we lived closer, you could almost buy season tickets for that much! 100 bucks. Every month. Month in. Month out. For ONE thing.”
“Let me think about it. That is a lot.”
When Andy says he’ll think about something, it’s really code for “Let me buy a few months’ time.” Don’t get me wrong, he thinks about it…leisurely. It’s like he goes all Southern on me and wants to sit on the front porch rocker sipping sweet tea while he thinks about it.
Finally, one day a couple of months ago, after paying almost $160 to Comcast (it had gone up…again!), I texted him: “I’m doing it. I’m cancelling cable. 100% for reals. Not kidding. Emotionally prepare yourself.”
I called Comcast. I got a guy on the other end. “I’d like to cancel cable. Not all of our services. Just cable.”
At first he went through the usual song and dance of “can I offer you a bundle package?” and when he finally realized I was serious, he was…shocked. The following ensued:
“Um, m’am? Does your husband know you’re doing this?”
“Kinda. Not really. I mean, I texted him about it, but I don’t think he thinks I was serious.”
“Wait. Are you serious? You’re cancelling cable and your husband isn’t even on board with it?”
“What’s he gonna say when he gets home?”
“I don’t know. But I’m sick of paying for it. He’ll be okay.”
“Wow. If my wife did that, I’d be SO mad. SO mad. Are you sure you want to cancel? I mean, maybe you guys can work something out?” (It was like I had just announced my impending divorce or something!)
“Um, no. It’s okay. He won’t be happy, but this isn’t life or death. It’s just TV.”
“But what are you going to do now???!!! In the evenings, after dinner, on the weekends????!!!”
“Well, we’ll get Netflix so we’ll have that. But I don’t know…hang out. It’ll be a paradigm shift for our family, but we won’t die you know.”
Laughing. “Man, you’re brave. Should I send a cop car over to sit outside your house for when your husband gets home?”
“You’re cute, but no. You know, people are starving to death in other countries. This isn’t a life necessity.”
“It is in America.”
How true, right? It was funny though. This random guy at Comcast was for real, genuinely concerned for Andy’s new lifestyle. He was appalled. He was confused. He was shocked. I appreciate his concern. It really was kinda cute. One dude looking out for another dude. He did eventually convince me to keep basic, local cable for $7/month. With the most basic of channels (NBC, ABC, etc.) Andy can watch Laker away games (home games are on ESPN so he can’t see those) and this summer, we’ll be able to catch the Olympics. (Which I do love and I think it’s good for the kids to watch too.)
Keep in mind, we’re not Amish. We got a subscription to the instant streaming of Netflix through our blu-ray player ($8/month) and we kept the local cable ($7/month). But that’s $100 vs. $15 a month. It makes my heart happy.
So far, it’s been a couple of months. Andy vascillates between feeling like he’s slowly dying inside (it probably didn’t help that I cut cable right before March Madness and in the middle of basketball season)…and begrudingly admitting it’s kind of nice. More than once he’s told me that “you know, the whole no cable thing is kinda nice…we spend a lot more time playing with the kids and just hanging out outside and stuff. I like the family time.” And then another day he’ll say “Do you have any idea how bad it is that I can’t watch basketball? During MARCH MADNESS???!!! This really sucks Jeannett. It sucks a lot. I’m dying. You have no idea.”
To which I respond: “Should I call 911? You know, I’m not CPR certified. Can’t have you dying on me.”
I’m a loving wife. What can I say?
What’s your stance on TV/cable? Have you cut the cord? What’s stopping you?