|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation in a Bangor facility so she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
One of the best things about not having a TV is that you tend to spend a lot more time in conversation with the people who live with you. If you had asked me a year ago if my 14 year old son, Chuck and I spent a good amount of time talking with each other, I probably would have said yes. But I would have been wrong. I realize now that the time we spent in conversation consisted primarily of the business of being a family; the things that needed to be said to get done what we needed to get done. Now that we have no TV, we spend lots of time discussing a variety of subjects in much greater detail and at far greater length. The rewards are abundant.
Chuck and I play a kind of game where we create hypothetical situations and imagine what we would do. Our latest was what we would do if we could build a house to our exact specifications where money was no object. Being a 14 year old boy, Chuck's first choice was to build a gigantic, fully loaded, ultra-luxurious gaming room, complete with wall sized video screens, surround sound, a pool table, and every electronic toy in the known world.
“That sounds great, Chuck,” I said, “but let's try for the unusual and inventive. Things that would make life easier and better.”
“A giant gaming room would make my life easier and better.” He told me.
“But not mine.” I stated.
Chuck looked at me and shrugged. This is the unique adolescent shrug that all teenagers work to perfect and with which all parents of teenagers are intimately familiar. The “shrug” is a mannerism that communicates to all of us annoyingly uncool adults just how lame and uncool we are and how little they care about what we say or think. I just ignore it since I've seen it a hundred times through 3 teenagers and it lost its effectiveness long ago.
“Here's what I would do,” I said. “I'd have all the bathrooms done in all tile or stainless steel. There would be no bathtubs because I can't stand the thought of soaking in my own dirt, so it would just have really big showers with multiple heads and a slightly reclining seat so that I could relax and enjoy the water. The shower would not have doors or curtains because the heads would be deep enough into it so that nothing splatters out. The floor would slope slightly toward a drain in the middle of the room. All the soaps and shampoos and conditioners and whatnot would be in dispensers on the walls and in the shower. When I want to clean the bathroom there would be a high-pressure hose that I could pull out of the wall like one of those guns in a do-it-yourself car wash. I would turn it to soap, clean the place ceiling to floor, switch to rinse, and wash it all down the center drain. It would be perfect.”
“What about the toilet paper?” Chuck asked.
“What about it?” I retorted. I was disappointed that Chuck had not responded with more enthusiasm to my fantastic bathroom design.
“Wouldn't it get wet?” He asked.
“Not a problem. The toilet paper would be in a recessed holder in the wall with a stainless hood that could be closed around it for cleaning.” If that was the best he could do I was way ahead of him.
“OK,” he conceded, “but wouldn't it get all streaky when it dried?”
“Since when do you care about anything being streaky?” I asked.
“I don't. You do.”
“In that case, I'd put a couple of car wash driers in it. And before you say anything about the driers being electric and not able to get wet, I'd cover them too.” I wasn't going to let him talk me out of my bathroom idea. “Now it's your turn for an idea.” I told him.
“If it were two or more floors, I'd have a dumb-waiter.” he said. “There would be one in the kitchen and one in every hallway all the way to the top. It would have a hot box in it to keep things warm and run like an elevator.”
“And it would also go from the giant laundry room so that clean clothes could be put in it and not have to be lugged upstairs.” I agreed. “And there would be those robot vacuum cleaners on each floor so that I never had to vacuum again as long as I live.”
“Don't forget the high-tech robot butler who would wait on us hand and foot.” Chuck added.
“Have they invented one of those yet?” I inquired.
Chuck looked at me and raised an eyebrow. “Are we going to start worrying about reality now? Because if we are, this game is definitely over.”
“Good point.” I nodded. “Forget reality.”
So we did, and created a super-imaginative, high-tech, ultra-efficient house of our dreams. It was fun. And better than that, we did it together. Now I can say that Chuck and I spend a lot of time talking together and it will be true. That's a good feeling.