Arrow-right Camera

Washington Voices

Vocal Point: Big Mouth Billys erode couple’s TV bonding

Thu., Jan. 13, 2011

My wife and I watch the TV show “Jeopardy” every night. We are a mature couple, but not old, not yet 65, although that is no longer old in my aging eyes. After each Jeopardy question is shown on the screen and answered (sometimes not) by one of the three contestants, my wife and I take turns remarking, “If I had more time, I would have come up with that answer.”

We may be comforting ourselves with that remark but I like to think that I cannot remember a famous book title or war hero in a split-second because my brain has become so loaded after decades of knowledge input. The retrieval takes more time now. My computer makes me feel good about this self-serving concept. When the PC’s memory disk begins to fill up, my computer operates slower and slower, sometimes the computer is not able to answer at all, at least I can still say, “If I had more time … blah, blah.”

Jeopardy provides me and my wife a chance to team up as loving couples do, to give each other comfort that we are not “losing it,” well, not entirely.

We turn off the television after “Jeopardy” due to behind-the-eight-ball mental exhaustion. Unfortunately, sometimes we are too fatigued to push the off button on the remote so continue to watch another program. My wife finds the energy to click to a show that breaks down the marital bonding that has been built up while watching “Jeopardy.”

This second show highlights a bad habit that does not afflict me, except in the most minor and temporary way. The show is “People Who Can’t Throw Things Away.” The whole program is built upon that personality condition which I have in only the mildest form.

In this show, the “keepers” are paraded around their homes and confronted with stacks of crap and junk that they have piled up over the years. These sick people almost always reside alone because other people refuse to navigate through the pathways between the stacks of things everywhere. The show usually involves a family member who snitches on the “keeper.”

As the host of the show takes the “keeper” from shorter stacks to taller stacks of useless trash, my wife fixes a gaze upon me and utters something to the effect, “That’s you in five years!” If she has time to reconsider, she lowers the target date, as in, “That’s you in two weeks when I leave to visit my mother!”

We have a computer room that my wife and I share. Some of my stuff is piled up on the desk. And on the file cabinets. And on the table. There are book cases around the walls. The book cases are kind of full. But there would be empty space if I had purchased the “Classic Illustrated” comic book version of all the books on my shelves that I intend to read someday. And although the comic book version would enhance my chances of becoming familiar with the author, I always purchase the unabridged version. I prefer to have the unread classic book on my shelf rather than a comic book version.

Sometimes my wife mentions my stuff lying around which appears to be piles of junk if you are not familiar with my storage system based on a rather complicated classification method.

She tries to bait me, like they do on the TV show. My wife comes in the computer room and picks up a Big Mouth Billy – The Singing Fish by his tail. She then points at the Big Mouth Billy mounted on the wall and asks me if I am starting a fish choir. I remind her of the difference between a quartet and a choir.

Anyway, I can sense that an “intervention” may be in my future.

I dread the thought of television cameras catching me standing next to my items that appear to be piles of junk if you are not familiar with my storage system based on a rather complicated classification method. The show’s host will grill me on what use each item could possibly have in today’s modern world.

And my wife screaming off camera, “He’s got more Big Mouth Billys in the basement!”



There is one comment on this story »