What about Betsy?
"I said, your love!" the flat-screen TV speakers blare into the semi-neutral, designer-coordinated bedroom. Betsy whirls around in a gossamer nightgown, singing the chorus, "Your love keeps liftin' me," and she falls onto the mocha comforter and tan pillows. She's going out tonight with Pat, the love of her life, and she's feeling glorious.
There have been bad times. Times when she felt empty inside because of him, but that was in the past, forgotten. And tonight, this night, they're going out.
"Keeps on liftin' me!"
Sure, he used to fool around with other women, but so did she. They used to fool around with other women together. Pat said it would make their relationship stronger. And in a drawn-out, labored way, it has. Through all the jealousy and the fighting, through the broken dishes and the times when they just held each other and she cried into her coffee-colored linens, it worked to bring her and Pat closer. She's never loved him more.
"YOU KNOW YOUR LOVE!" the TV belts out. "HOOOOoooHooOOOOO!"
Cocaine lines her glass coffee table in thin, parallel rows. "Keeps on liftin' me!" She sings along. She springs off the thick mattress. Her long legs stretch out in a testament to her days as a dancer, and her flouncing hair frames her head in a golden halo.
"Keeps on liftin' me!" She sings with the TV. "HIGHER AND HIGHER!" Betsy's been dating Pat for two years, and this is the best time of their lives. Sure, his TV show is a chintzy celebrity-gossip rag, but he's the host. And it's TV! Pat's on TV and gets paid way more than her dad ever got paid. And tonight they're going out. First to Radicchio for drinks, then to Alpha for some dancing. They haven't been out in a long time. Things were shaky, but now they're stronger.
With the rolled-up bill in her nose Betsy sees her reflection in the glass tabletop, and the white, granular lines of the coke decorate her image like war paint. Maybe he won't invite her. His new assistant, who he's been making a play for, has accompanied them everywhere for a week now. Maybe it'll just be Betsy and Pat tonight. Maybe he'll hold Betsy's hand from across the table and look into her eyes the way he used to. Maybe.
"Higher and higher!"
WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK
Thursday, May 26
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
SHOWTIME, 6:30 p.m.
It was the middle of summer, so I was wearing sandals when they cuffed me. After they threw me in jail they took my flip-flops, sweatshirt, everything except my T-shirt and shorts. The concrete floor of the drunk tank was cold, and the jailers, junior sheriff deputies, told me to sit on the bench so my feet wouldn't freeze. "I'll stand!" I yelled through the glass. I paced for three hours until my feet were purple. It must've been 45 degrees in that cell.
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002)
TBS, 9:00 p.m.
A short, incomplete list of things I'd rather do than watch this movie: A) French kiss a baboon; B) Douse my eyes with Tabasco sauce; C) Shoot myself through the hand; D) Lick the underside of a handrail at the zoo.
Friday, May 27
That '70s Show
FOX, 6:30 p.m.
Ray Kurzweil predicts that in 14 years, medical science and robotics will be so advanced that the human race will be considered immortal. I was born in 1976, so I'll be 43 when my new bionic body is ready. I can't wait to be immortal! Along with immortality, I'd like to place an order for a prehensile tail, if anyone in the bioscience field is reading this.
Saturday, May 28
UCSD-TV, 1:00 p.m.
I'm quitting tobacco. There's a stinking, itching, burning patch seeping nicotine into the skin of my right love handle. Even though I hate the patches, I have to stick with them because they worked the first time I quit.
Sunday, May 29
TV LAND, 10:30 a.m.
The Munsters are a metaphor for the domestic violence that raged in the '50s and '60s. Their friends and neighbors can clearly see something's different, but no one would be so rude as to bring it up in front of the Munsters; those sorts of rumors are best left to light up the backyard fences after sundown. The girl puts on a pretty face to fit in. The boy is too young to know any better; he wears the ghoulish mask of his family. The mother's sunken eyes tell her story. I could go on.
Your Total Health
KNSD, 3:30 p.m.
The last time I gave up nicotine I was in Barcelona, Spain. I had the flu. I was dopesick from partying in Ireland for two weeks straight, and I was kicking tobacco at the same time. My bed was behind a privacy curtain in a public room full of other beds and curtains. You could smell the disease, sweat, and bacteria emanating from my bunk. I coughed all night. I was 6000 miles from home. This time ought to be a piece of cake compared to that.
Monday, May 30
The Calculus of Bike Racing
UCSD-TV, 11:00 p.m.
I bought a bike. It's the first new bike I've owned since I was 12. And like then, I've been telling all of my friends and everyone I meet, "Yep, just bought myself a new bike." I cross my arms behind my head and slip it into conversation whenever I can. "Oh yeah, that's just like when I ride my brand-new, shiny red bike around OB." Yep, I'm smooth.
Tuesday, May 31
FOOD CHANNEL, 7:00 p.m.
Two weekends ago, my roommate Kip dared me to eat a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut that he had stuffed with beef. I now divide my life into two distinct time periods: BMD and AMD, Before Meat Donut and After Meat Donut. We are now living in the year 1AMD.
Wednesday, June 1
Planet of the Apes (2001)
FX, 8:00 p.m.
Marky Mark and the Monkey Bunch.
Thursday, June 2
UPN, 3:30 p.m.
The clouds sprinkled soft mist. When we started this affair, we knew when it would end and why. We knew the exact date it would end. We didn't care about that when we began, but the pain was hard to ignore when it was over. Our cheeks rubbed, wet with tears and rain. She got in her truck and I got in mine. Three years of time, driving in opposite directions out of the parking lot.