Bad News
Home sweet home Latest site info Poetic stuff Serious stuff Funny stuff Topical stuff Alternative stuff Shakespearian stuff Musical stuff
Your mouse is wandering aimlessly!

Watching Television

by Martin Green


On the television screen two gay men were kissing, a scene that made Tom Watkins wince. He was just old-fashioned, he told himself. Nowadays every sitcom had a gay family member, usually lovable. He supposed that next year every family would have a transsexual member. That was the new thing.

Watkins and his wife Kay were settled in their living room chairs for their usual evening of watching television. They lived in a modest house in a Sacramento suburb. Tom was a middle-aged State worker. They had two children, a son and a daughter, both in college, and Kay worked part-time as a teacher’s aide, to “help out” with expenses.  

After the sitcom there was a new show on cable that had gotten good critical notices, although Tom was doubtful as it was still another show about a crime family. Television (and movies), it seemed to him, had a fascination with crime families, usually glorifying them no matter how many people they killed. This show started with a lot of grunts and groans, then the picture came on, a man and woman in bed having sex. As it proceeded, every character was prone to use the f-word, no matter what the subject was. Sex, obscenity and of course the obligatory nudity. After ten minutes of this, Tom said, “Have you had enough?” Kay said she had. They switched to another channel and watched the end of a nature program about animals that were nearing extinction.

“Might as well watch the 10 o’clock news,” said Tom. He switched to the local news channel and they saw a mob of people carrying signs and chanting something about police brutality, black lives and hands up, don’t shoot. There’d been a shooting in some Southern city the week before, a white patrolman who’d had a confrontation with a black teenager. and there’d been protesting and rioting every night since. The protests had spread to other cities, even to Sacramento. “I don’t see what good all this rioting is doing,” said Kay.  

“It gets them attention.”

After this came a segment on what bathrooms transgender people should use, with politicians arguing both sides. There followed a segment on the aftermath of another ISIS attack in a European city. The attackers had been on the police radar but hadn’t been thought that dangerous. Finally, there came the weather and sports. It was summer in Sacramento and the next day would be a scorcher. 

Tom and Kay got ready for bed. “There won’t be any protest tomorrow, will there?” asked Kay.

“If there is, it’ll be at the Capitol.”

“Well, be careful.”

“I will.”

In bed, Tom kissed his wife and she turned on her side and was asleep. Tom stared at the ceiling. What was this country coming to? he thought. No morality, no standards, no civility. Sex and obscenity all over. Every group claiming to be oppressed and clamoring for its rights: blacks, gays, transgenders; even women, although they were hardly a minority. And look what they had to look forward to. His feeling about the coming election was expressed in an editorial cartoon in their Sacramento newspaper. The cartoon showed Uncle Sam in a room with two doors, one saying Hillary Clinton and the other Donald Trump. Uncle Sam is thinking: there must be another way out.

His thoughts came back to what he’d seen on television. Was he a homophobe? He didn’t think so, even though he didn’t think he could ever go to a wedding of two guys. And how about being a racist? Ever since the sixties, or seventies at any rate, any black or Hispanic working for the State had an advantage. If you were also a woman, that was a double advantage. He was sure he’d had more promotions if he wasn’t a white male. His secretary was African-American, as blacks were called nowadays, and she was fine. But one of his clerks, also an African-American, was lazy and insolent, a constant problem in the office. He’s spoken to his Division Chief but there was nothing they could do about here; she was protected. Maybe that was why she was so insolent; she knew it.

Now it seemed that every day there was some kind of violence going on, in this country, all over the world.   He’d told Kay he’d be careful. He wondered if he should get a gun. He’d think about it.


Read old page 94s here.


© Winamop 2016