When I was a little kid I underwent surgery to remove my tonsils. This is back in the early '80s. Tonsillectomies were common. Now, I think surgery is a last resort. I imagine the "last resort" back then involved a shot of whisky, barbecue tongs, and a steak knife, but the surgery was pretty common. The rule used to be that if you got a sore throat twice in one year, they pulled 'em. When I was five, my brother, the bastard, gave me my second case of strep since Christmas.
The doctor was nice enough. He came in before the surgery, and in a slow, too-loud voice, he told me, "Okay, Tony. What we're going to do is take you into another room. When we get in there, we'll put one of these on you, okay?" He produced a thick triangular cone of rubber with white elastic straps that he held to my face and let me breathe through. "That's not so bad, is it?"
No, it wasn't so bad. In the sunny yellow room with the other kids in the other beds and my dad leaning against the wall, it wasn't so bad. When the doctor left, my dad settled into an ugly green chair, and we watched cartoons.
The TV was mounted on one of those armatures and bolted up in the corner where the wall met the ceiling, and I thought that was the most glorious thing I'd ever seen. I was sure the invention would be picked up quickly by the public, and soon everyone would watch television from way up on high rather than down low on a little table. Why wouldn't they? TV up on the wall is way cooler.
When they wheeled me into the other room and secured the rubber cone on my face with the elastic straps it was different. The mask smelled different. The air coming from it was pale and smelled like sickness, and before I could protest, I fell into the dark burgundy of deep sleep.
The doctors told my dad I'd be asleep for hours. When they wheeled me out of the operating room, I sprang awake, yanked the I.V. out of my arm, and hurdled over the chrome bars of the gurney. Nurses shuffled their white canvas shoes over the robin's egg--colored tiles trying to catch me, but they couldn't. I found my dad's hand and knee there in the hallway, and I grabbed his blue jeans and said, "All right. I'm ready to go. I want to go home."
But, they wouldn't let me. I spent two more days under the TV way up high on the wall, and I sipped 7-Up from a bendy straw and cup the color of fancy mustard. When I tucked my head under the sheets, my dad would ask me if I was okay, and I slept, and we watched cartoons.
WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK
Thursday, May 25
WGN 11:00 a.m. Keep it up, buddy. Me and my friends are going to fly our helicopters around and I'm going to peel out in my Ferrari and shoot this island all to hell, and then you're going to have to answer to the mustache. You want that? You want to deal with the mustache?
Honeymoon With Mom (2006)
LIFE 7:00 p.m. Ugh. This Sisterhood of the Squeezing Estrogen and Magic Pants crap has to stop. We've gone too far. This show is going to force me to burn my jockstrap on the front lawn of the Lifetime Network headquarters and carry a banner that reads, "SHUT THE HELL UP, PLEASE!"
Friday, May 26
SCIFI 7:00 p.m.
Finally. Something decent.
Saturday, May 27
Fifteen and Pregnant (1998)
WGNSAT 12:00 p.m. If you're dumb enough to make "The Wookie in the Rain," and you're a teenager and you get pregnant, have decency enough to hide yourself away. Shuffle them off to a nunnery in Alaska, I say. Don't get all bloated and weepy down here in polite society. Off you go.
The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
USA 8:00 p.m. Shelley Winters had put down so many martinis while taping The Poseidon Adventure that the wafting stench of booze was caught by the cameras and is so solid an entity that it can be beamed over the airwaves. If you watch this movie on the USA network on Saturday night, you'll be able to smell the gin and olives right there in your living room.
Sunday, May 28
XHAS 9:00 p.m. "... don't want none unless you got buns, hun." Is there any situation in which a line from that song is not appropriate? (Coincidentally, Jennifer Lopez's butt plays the female lead in this movie.) And, that's the circle of life, folks.
Monday, May 29
Karate Dog (2004)
FAM 7:00 p.m. Chevy Chase and John Voight are in this movie? From Midnight Cowboy and Caddyshack to Karate Dog? O', how thou hast fallen. Shame. Shame.
Tuesday, May 30
Love Don't Cost a Thing (2003)
FAM 8:00 p.m. Cancer is free also. Along with Hantavirus, E. coli, and herpes. You're also "free" to "stick it up your ass," but the Family Channel on basic cable you'll have to pay for. Have a nice day.
Wednesday, May 31
The Italian Job (2003)
NBC 9:00 p.m. I'm unfamiliar with Italian style, but I'm a big fan of French and Greek. I'll try anything once, so what the hell, right?
Thursday, June 1
2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee
ABC 8:00 p.m. Boring. B-O-R-I-N-G. Boring.