Ted (merovingian) wrote,
Ted
merovingian

Remembering Television

So I have this old television set, and before you think I'm being unsmug, let me reassure you that I only use it to watch British news shows. Anyway, I have this TV, and there's this staticky multicolored line that lazily rolls its way up the screen until it reaches the top, then wraps around to the bottom of the screen and starts over again. It doesn't matter how I turn and fuss over the antennae, or even if I convince some overly helpful friend to stand there holding the metal rods; the line rolls on.

That line, that funny unmalicious irritating little line. I started to wonder what it was. Some glitch in the casters of the tube or something, most likely? I took photographs to find out.

Most of the photographs didn't turn out well. I think old televisions rarely do. But some showed these eyes: crisper than the other images or even the furniture surrounding the television. Maybe crisper than the camera is capable of producing. Soulful eyes; deep brown irises; a pensive expression.

I tried to talk with those eyes. I tried photographing them, I tried looking online for them, and I even tried making these giant plastic contact lenses for them. Nothing. I can't even see the eyes myself, though sometimes I imagine that I can. They only show up in photographs, and only sometimes. I've been banging my head against this problem for months -- usually not literally banging by head, but I've tried that too.

Today I thought to offer my television some tea. I was having tea and it only seemed polite.

A man crawled out of the window of the television, with great difficulty. He had those same brown eyes, dark skin, and a bit of a stocky frame. He had trouble squeezing through, so, terrified and shocked, I offered him a steadying hand. He thanked me, brushed some pixels off himself, and sat down on my couch. Then he took a teabag, broke it open, and rubbed the tea leaves on his forehead.

Properly anointed with tea, he turned to me.

"I only speak English, and I have this preconception about other languages. Plenty of other languages have different grammar for masculine or feminine things. German, Hebrew, Spanish, French, and Arabic, for instance. That means that every noun is masculine or feminine. I guess in some languages there's a neuter too. Somehow, as an English speaker, I think I assign a lot of meaning to that, more than a native speaker would. Like that everyone who speaks Spanish looks at a stapler and thinks that it's feminine because its name is grapadora. Or even perhaps that there was a vote throughout Spain and Latin America, or maybe the Queen of Spain made a declaration about the gender of staplers, or a team of scientists, or some prophesied oracle. And maybe a Spanish speaker who is given to gender-biased chivalry would be more gentle, somehow, with a grapadora than they would, say, a telefono."

"Uh," I said, wondering if it would be rude to ask to take his picture, "Yeah, huh."

"But that's nonsense. It would be like constantly updating Twitter with the status 'I'm updating Twitter right now by triple-typing on my cell phone. Again.' It just wouldn't make sense."

"Sure, I suppose," I said, while thinking the opposite. Who would use twitter when there's identi.ca?

"Well, thanks for the tea," the overly crisp man said, and in a single elegant digital leap he dove back into the television set.

The line is still there, but I think we have a bit of an understanding now.

Perhaps I'll anoint myself and dive in there myself sometime.
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