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The Reader's Eye on Television

Teeth grind when you're addicted. Every second of the day. While you sleep. While you shower. You never eat when you're addicted. If you did eat, your teeth and dry mouth would grind everything into fine powder. I'm sitting on the couch waiting for a phone call. Grinding my teeth. I tell myself it'll be okay if I don't score. I'll kick. I push the end of a drinking straw into my mouth and chew it.

What's on the goddamned TV? I don't even know. I'm sitting here watching it, and I don't know what the hell is on. All I can think of is that phone call. The ragged edge of the chewed straw rubs my gums raw and makes them bleed. The taste of blood adds urgency to my teeth-grinding.

Boy Meets World. That's what's on. I can tell because I can see that kid from The Wonder Years between the fuzzy squiggles and static. Stupid damn TV with the stupid damn rabbit-ears antenna. I tell myself the best thing that could happen to me is if that call doesn't come through. I'd go to bed and the sheets would stick to my sweaty body until morning, but I'd be close to kicking, and I could stop grinding my teeth and I could hold a job. If I kicked I could stop spending so much time waiting for phone calls, or meeting dealers in alleys, or chewing on bloody straws.

There's some misunderstanding. The kid from Boy Meets World is having trouble with the girl who's the main love interest, what's her name? It's a good name, kinda gritty. She'd make a good junkie stripper with that name. Topanga, that's it.

There. I just thought about something else besides that phone call for five seconds. I'm already on the productive and advantageous road to recovery. Best thing that could happen is that call doesn't come through. I could kick.

The phone rings. I pick it up. Arrange to meet at 7th and G. Cash in hand. My chewing straw skids across the table in a puddle of bloody spit, and I grab my hat and jacket at the door.

WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK

Thursday, July 7

Inside Dish with Rachael Ray

FOOD CHANNEL, 10:30 a.m.

If you're a waitress, I'll put up with a lot of crap from you. You can lose my order, bring me the wrong food, and outright ignore me as long as you're cute and jiggly. If you're a waiter, a guy, and my coffee so much as drops below the halfway mark, I'll fire a saltshaker at your chest.

Friday, July 8

Big Ten: The Championships

ESPN2, 11:00 a.m.

You can get Superballs from a dispenser in Old Navy for 25 cents each. You can then climb a ladder to the rooftop of your apartment and admire the majestic scenery of Ocean Beach while slamming those superballs with a tennis racket. For $5 you can have more fun than you've had since you were six. See if you can get one of the balls to set off a car alarm.

Saturday, July 9

One on One with Tony Little

HOME SHOPPING NETWORK, 11:00 a.m.

Get your attention. Capture it. When you've got your attention caged, poke it with a stick. If it tries to get loose, wring its neck.

Fabulous Life of ...

VH1, 5:00 p.m.

"Are we really drunk again at nine in the morning?" I asked Brianna. "No," she answered, and took a pull from her bottle of beer. "That's bartime. It's 15 till."

Sunday, July 10

What I Like About You

WB, 5:00 p.m.

Tina and I share a favorite joke pick-up line that we drop into our conversation at parties. In a theatrical New York accent she asks, "Hey, sailor, how do you like my boots?"

I respond, "I like them just fine." And, she says, "How wouldja like 'em on your shoulders?" We've been saying it for years, and it still doubles us over in fits of laughter.

Monday, July 11

Clueless (1995)

USA, 3:00 p.m.

At our Fourth of July party I overheard my friend Mel say, "I'm a drooler. I drool. So, I automatically assume everyone else does too." I can't imagine what the topic of conversation was that would make her say that.

Tuesday, July 12

Monster Garage

DISCOVERY CHANNEL, 6:00 p.m.

On the 805 heading north, I passed a dusty van. Instead of the friendly "Wash Me!" and smiley faces that are customarily drawn onto the windows of a dirty vehicle, I was pleased to find someone had cut to the chase and scratched in "Wash this piece of shit!"

Wednesday, July 13

Strictly Sex With Dr. Drew

Discovery Health Channel, 9:00 p.m.

I stumbled out onto the back porch and caught the sight of my friend Tina with her head buried in her boyfriend's lap. Covering my eyes, I spun back around and took a seat in the living room. After they came back into the house, there were some uncomfortable, awkward moments until I blurted out, "Well, if you can't perform oral sex in front of your friends, who can you perform oral sex in front of?" She answered, "They wouldn't call it a 'performing' if it wasn't meant for public display."

Thursday, July 14

Sesame Street

PBS, 10:30 a.m.

I have an antique typewriter decorating a coffee table in my bedroom. When I'm not in the room, my friends type out messages and leave them for me to find. Sometimes the notes can be whimsical, passionate, or thoughtful. But nine times out of ten, the messages are disparaging insults about what I like to do with poop and pee. Yeah, we're mature.

Designers' Challenge

HGTV, 9:30 p.m.

Home and garden television is escapist pornography. People with houses don't watch these shows. People who live in dumpy little apartments who wish they had a house watch these shows and pipe dream.

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Teeth grind when you're addicted. Every second of the day. While you sleep. While you shower. You never eat when you're addicted. If you did eat, your teeth and dry mouth would grind everything into fine powder. I'm sitting on the couch waiting for a phone call. Grinding my teeth. I tell myself it'll be okay if I don't score. I'll kick. I push the end of a drinking straw into my mouth and chew it.

What's on the goddamned TV? I don't even know. I'm sitting here watching it, and I don't know what the hell is on. All I can think of is that phone call. The ragged edge of the chewed straw rubs my gums raw and makes them bleed. The taste of blood adds urgency to my teeth-grinding.

Boy Meets World. That's what's on. I can tell because I can see that kid from The Wonder Years between the fuzzy squiggles and static. Stupid damn TV with the stupid damn rabbit-ears antenna. I tell myself the best thing that could happen to me is if that call doesn't come through. I'd go to bed and the sheets would stick to my sweaty body until morning, but I'd be close to kicking, and I could stop grinding my teeth and I could hold a job. If I kicked I could stop spending so much time waiting for phone calls, or meeting dealers in alleys, or chewing on bloody straws.

There's some misunderstanding. The kid from Boy Meets World is having trouble with the girl who's the main love interest, what's her name? It's a good name, kinda gritty. She'd make a good junkie stripper with that name. Topanga, that's it.

There. I just thought about something else besides that phone call for five seconds. I'm already on the productive and advantageous road to recovery. Best thing that could happen is that call doesn't come through. I could kick.

The phone rings. I pick it up. Arrange to meet at 7th and G. Cash in hand. My chewing straw skids across the table in a puddle of bloody spit, and I grab my hat and jacket at the door.

WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK

Thursday, July 7

Inside Dish with Rachael Ray

FOOD CHANNEL, 10:30 a.m.

If you're a waitress, I'll put up with a lot of crap from you. You can lose my order, bring me the wrong food, and outright ignore me as long as you're cute and jiggly. If you're a waiter, a guy, and my coffee so much as drops below the halfway mark, I'll fire a saltshaker at your chest.

Friday, July 8

Big Ten: The Championships

ESPN2, 11:00 a.m.

You can get Superballs from a dispenser in Old Navy for 25 cents each. You can then climb a ladder to the rooftop of your apartment and admire the majestic scenery of Ocean Beach while slamming those superballs with a tennis racket. For $5 you can have more fun than you've had since you were six. See if you can get one of the balls to set off a car alarm.

Saturday, July 9

One on One with Tony Little

HOME SHOPPING NETWORK, 11:00 a.m.

Get your attention. Capture it. When you've got your attention caged, poke it with a stick. If it tries to get loose, wring its neck.

Fabulous Life of ...

VH1, 5:00 p.m.

"Are we really drunk again at nine in the morning?" I asked Brianna. "No," she answered, and took a pull from her bottle of beer. "That's bartime. It's 15 till."

Sunday, July 10

What I Like About You

WB, 5:00 p.m.

Tina and I share a favorite joke pick-up line that we drop into our conversation at parties. In a theatrical New York accent she asks, "Hey, sailor, how do you like my boots?"

I respond, "I like them just fine." And, she says, "How wouldja like 'em on your shoulders?" We've been saying it for years, and it still doubles us over in fits of laughter.

Monday, July 11

Clueless (1995)

USA, 3:00 p.m.

At our Fourth of July party I overheard my friend Mel say, "I'm a drooler. I drool. So, I automatically assume everyone else does too." I can't imagine what the topic of conversation was that would make her say that.

Tuesday, July 12

Monster Garage

DISCOVERY CHANNEL, 6:00 p.m.

On the 805 heading north, I passed a dusty van. Instead of the friendly "Wash Me!" and smiley faces that are customarily drawn onto the windows of a dirty vehicle, I was pleased to find someone had cut to the chase and scratched in "Wash this piece of shit!"

Wednesday, July 13

Strictly Sex With Dr. Drew

Discovery Health Channel, 9:00 p.m.

I stumbled out onto the back porch and caught the sight of my friend Tina with her head buried in her boyfriend's lap. Covering my eyes, I spun back around and took a seat in the living room. After they came back into the house, there were some uncomfortable, awkward moments until I blurted out, "Well, if you can't perform oral sex in front of your friends, who can you perform oral sex in front of?" She answered, "They wouldn't call it a 'performing' if it wasn't meant for public display."

Thursday, July 14

Sesame Street

PBS, 10:30 a.m.

I have an antique typewriter decorating a coffee table in my bedroom. When I'm not in the room, my friends type out messages and leave them for me to find. Sometimes the notes can be whimsical, passionate, or thoughtful. But nine times out of ten, the messages are disparaging insults about what I like to do with poop and pee. Yeah, we're mature.

Designers' Challenge

HGTV, 9:30 p.m.

Home and garden television is escapist pornography. People with houses don't watch these shows. People who live in dumpy little apartments who wish they had a house watch these shows and pipe dream.

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