5 Things I Learned About TV and 1 Thing I Learned While It Was Turned Off
Remember that scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the one where Indi is dining at the palace and Kate Capshaw opens the silver lid on a soup bowl to reveal a broth of eyeballs?
That’s the sensation – odd, slightly funny, and complete with shuddering – that my husband and I experienced trying longans and rambutans for the first time.
Both fruits are native to Southeast Asia, and if you’ve tasted lychees before, you won’t be surprised by their flavor or consistency. Getting to the moment where you taste the fruit, however, is a trial of the weird.
The longan, for one, is leathery and somewhat dusty feeling. It’s almost like the head of a shiitake mushroom, but with a thin, hard exterior. The rambutan, conversely, is covered in curly bristles. It looks like something you’d see through a microscope, something like a blood cell.
“An inflamed testicle,” says Mark, when I ask his opinion. And I can’t disagree. It does have something of a sexual air, especially when you consider Javier Bardem’s sleepy voice as he tells Julia Roberts, “it’s a rambutan,” in Eat Pray Love.
That was my favorite part of an otherwise terrible movie. The market scene was so alive with color, textures, even the fishy smells seemed to come through for me. And then Julia turned sideways to look right at a fruit I recognized. It was a total insider moment, and it’s vivid for me still. That’s because – other than one episode of Glee – I haven’t watched a single thing on either the big or little screen since then.
Before you assume I’m some kind of extremist, let’s back up a bit…
I remember the horror when Mark first took me to his apartment and I discovered he didn’t own a television. In my family, TV was a staple. Even now, trips home are full of Judge Judy, telenovelas and Lifetime movies. If there’s absolutely nothing on, my sisters will dust off the old Nintendo before turning the television off.
Mark didn’t have a TV, but our relationship was new and exciting. It was enough to listen to him play the guitar and to have sex. Lots and lots of sex.
So that first year with him slyly taught me about the effects of TV, not through some preachy commie lecture, but by how I felt changed. Here’s what I learned:
• Television makes you take on a heavier load.
Watching the news, Law & Order SVU, whatever; it’s full of violence, distress, and pain. And I can sleep better without the PTSD.
• Passive past-times aren’t as valuable as active ones.
This doesn’t mean I work out. *shudder* It means I spend primetime writing. By spinning my own storylines, I’m advancing my goals, I’m getting excited about what I could one day be. And when I close Microsoft Word for the night, I’m usually amped.
• Women (in my experience) aren’t any good at making sound effects or delivering lines from movies.
While the men in my life (husband not included) seem to make this work for them, I’ve never seen a chick successfully use TV-knowledge as social currency.
This was a crucial lesson for me. I’m in Advertising and I’d always felt I needed to be up on Pop Culture to make good ads or at least to fit in around the water cooler, but the fact is, the world is so wired, I can keep up simply by being online.
By following ad blogs, I’m up-to-date on the best creative worldwide. Through Facebook and Twitter updates, I get a sense of what else is going on. Sure, I didn’t see the watermelon launch gone awry during the Amazing Race, but I saw it the very next morning.
• If you’re serious about cutting down your TV time, move it out of the living room.
If it’s not in the place where the family hangs out most, it’s easier to forget. Ours is now in the basement, which is cold and occasionally visited by centipedes. If I’m going to sit there for an hour, the broadcast better be good, like a hyped-up episode of Top Model or the season finale of Modern Family.
• At times, I will miss television.
I really miss the days of Dukes of Hazzard and Magnum P.I. and MacGyver; that’s the kind of programming I miss. There’s no way I’d replace all of my new addictive activities (yoga, fiction, fruit) for crap like Dancing with the Stars. No way.
But, I’m not going to be rigid about it, either. If there’s something I really want to watch or if I’m longing for a temporary vegetative state, I’ll pick up the remote.
As for movie theatres, I have nothing against them. It’s just that with two small kids, it gets hard to go. And these days – with my fruit adventuring – it’s been alright, going without.
The day we first had the longans and rambutans, actually, was one where we could have gone to a movie, but didn’t. Our daughter was with her grandparents, our baby was easy enough to take anywhere. So we went to the lakeside bandshell, listened to some folk music under a wide pink sky and dined on fruit.
Several people stopped to gaze at the oddities on our picnic table. A few asked us about them directly and one – a fifty-something lady in a tie-dyed shirt – asked to taste them.
The idea of sharing my fruit smarts made me smile, full of joy, full of a sense of community and interconnectedness. And then someone else approached us – a man, mid-forties, neatly dressed, Asian.
“Where did you get that?” he asked, pointing to our fruits as I sliced down the center of a rambutan with the tip of my knife.
“Shuang Hur. It’s on Nicollet and–“
“I know it,” he said.
“I should get to know it,” said the lady in the tie-dye. “I should do my homework and get to know it.”
She reached for the rambutan I held out to her, and before pulling it apart from the seam I’d cut, she petted it softly with the back of her forefinger.
We all watched as she moved the fruit through her lips, as she pressed the flesh with the front of her mouth. Her tongue flicked and her hazel eyes went soft as she registered the taste: sweet, crisply refreshing, something like a melon or gummy peaches.
“Rambutan?” she asked. “How do you spell that?” And after getting the answer, she bowed toward us, strands of silver hair falling over her shoulders. “Thank you for sharing it with me.”
Before she could turn back toward the stage, my husband lifted a sprig of longans toward her. We had too many and I could tell he didn’t like their nutty flavor.
The woman rocked on the balls of her feet. “Oh, and these too?”
“They’re dragon’s eyes,” said the man, accepting a sprig as well.
I looked down at my plate and indeed, they were. Transluscent white orbs, severed by my bite, glassy pits looking up at me. Dragon’s eyes.
I popped another in my mouth and our two visitors moved away in separate directions, fruit in hand, all of us made bigger.
From The Fruitie
More from health