Vice posted a pretty funny slew of complaints from quarantine partners today. My girlfriend and I are coming off one of the stupider fights we’ve ever had, so I figured I’d share the gas that brought our water to a boil last night. For me, I can’t stand the fact that we start and stop our TV shows about five times each episode. We’re watching Breaking Bad (my second time through, her first) and here’s how a typical viewing plays out:
We start a 47-minute episode. Eight-ten minutes in, we pause it to take the dishes up to the sink. We then do the dishes. We’re both tidy people so it’s hard for us to relax on the couch if we know the dishes are calcifying.
Once the dishes are done and the counter surfaces have been wiped down, we return to the couch and sigh our way under a comfortable blanket. Six minutes later, we pause it to change into comfortable pants. We struggle to remember to put the proper clothes on before the show begins. The costume change typically takes ten minutes, as it is always accompanied by a bathroom break. Finally, dressed properly, we return to our show. We are now 12 minutes in.
Ten minutes pass. Out of nowhere, the sugar itch. Who could forget dessert? Except the ice cream needs time to soften. We could put it in the microwave for 20 seconds but that only softens the sides and the center remains solid, creating an inconsistent scoop. So I set the ice cream on the counter, lids off, for 15 minutes. Back to our show.
Fifteen more minutes of programming. Back in the groove. This could be it—the final push to complete an episode. Only 10 minutes left! Except… the ice cream. If we let it soften any longer, it will turn to soup. There’s no coming back from ice cream soup. If you put it back in the freezer, it turns to frosty fractals like the ice palace Elsa built. Pause!
Gus Fring is seconds away from looking like Harvey Dent thanks to Hector Salamanca’s wheelchair IED. She doesn’t know but I do, and I can’t say anything because I’m no spoiler.
Gotta microwave the chocolate sauce. 60 seconds should do it. Bowls and spoons out, sprinkles on. Oh boy, can’t wait to see how this episode ends!
We see it through. A sprint to the finish as we enjoy our delicious treat. What a perfect companion for the final 10 minutes of an episode that took us 2 hours to complete. Every night, we sit down to watch TV around 8:30, and I do the math. We can watch three episodes before bed if we hoof it and stay focused. Every night, I’m wrong. We watch one episode in dog years and then we crash from the sugar and go to sleep.
I really don’t mind that we take a couple months to finish a TV series that takes most couples a couple weeks to watch. It’s nice to make them last, like in the old days. But the inefficiency of our approach drives me insane. Ideally, I would nail some ankle shackles to the floor that lock us in once the episode starts, and only release once the credits roll. But that’s the sort of thing that goes on your record and no amount of community service can wipe it.
If it sounds like I’m just as culpable for our interruptions as she, know that I’m following her lead. If she gets up to do the dishes, I can’t very well sit on the couch and play chess on my phone even though that’s all I want to do, ever, anymore. Everyone makes their own sundaes—that’s a law. The childhood birthday industry was built around than commandment. If she’s putting on comfy pants, I’m not going to sit in my Lulu ABCs like a farmer. Simply put, I’m following her lead because I have no choice.
You tell yourself to have some perspective. Things are good! You’re mad about watching television the wrong way. Yet in the absence of bigger life problems to stand against such foibles, these small annoyances become enormous, deafening faults that threaten to crack and crater in your brain. And in those moments, I take a deep breath, pat the dog, and look forward to watching The Last Dance by myself in the bathroom on my phone screen. From start to finish.