This story is from my childhood. My sister and I shared a bedroom when we were young. In our home we had the one enormous television set in the living room that was actually a piece of furniture. It was wood and gigantic and it was attached to wires and a coat hanger and a standing lamp that has three separate lights each on their own switch. This created the antenna to provide great viewing of the three channels we got in our home. There was an amount of acrobatics that went into getting a clear picture and we sure as shit did those acrobatics too…because “Happy Days” was coming on and we aren’t going to be missing it. So someone had better go over and start turning that lamp and move that coat hanger to the correct light to get the picture in, because the Fonz is jumping school busses on his motorcycle and we are not going to miss it. So this is the set up, we get to watch three fuzzy channels and we are thrilled with our meager existence.
Now back to the bedroom that my sister and I share. At night, if you didn’t hear my mother’s voice holler down the hall “Girls, go to sleep!” then one of us was definitely sick. We would try to sing quietly in our whisper voices…our voices would crack and we would think that was the funniest thing in the world. Another great bedtime game was “draw on our backs” with just our fingers and try to guess what the other was drawing. I wasn’t great on the receiving end of this because I am incredibly ticklish. We would sometimes fight because we were two girls in one bedroom and when we were really young, the same bed. We were pretty much, giggle machines sleeping together on a forever slumber party. Then it would come, my mother’s voice “Girls, go to sleep!” We would turn on backs toward each other and pretend that we were sleeping. We then would find a way to giggle some more.
One year we acquired twin beds and a TV. A glorious, small, black and white TV with rabbit ears which meant that we now have new channels. (Insert Angels Voices Mixing with Harps Playing) How did this happen? Why were we the CHOSEN ones to receive such an honorable gift? I am not sure but there it was in our bedroom two twin beds so that we do not have to share a bed any more and a thirteen inch black and white TV. Guys, I’m not going to lie, I didn’t see my life getting any better from that day. My life was pretty fucking complete. The best part is that it had all of these dials on the bottom and it adjusted the picture and the sound and made the picture fade into black. This TV was the most impressive thing I had ever seen in my entire life. I was going to take such good care of this tv. I loved it, I really did. Even today I have the warmest feelings toward this gift from whoever, (Yah, I don’t really know where it actually came from). My memory is fuzzy on that one. I am going to say it may have been one of my mom’s friends’ daughter’s TV and she specifically deemed that “us girls” get it. But honestly that could be a figment of my imagination because I often times fill in the blanks of stories that I only know part of with what I think could have happened. I’m like a detective that way.
So onto this amazing TV! The thirteen inch television came with its own little antenna and it had the cutest name of “rabbit ears”. We got new channels and discovered new TV shows that we didn’t even know existed. There was all of those great seventies shows on channel three, there was the Jeffersons and the one with the mom and the girls and the janitor….Valerie Bertenelli was on it. So my sister and I being the clever little shits that we were, would close our bedroom door and watch that TV to our hearts content. The trick was that we had to turn the picture down so that it wouldn’t glow in the dark too much. Then if we heard footsteps coming down the hall we would jump up and fade the picture to black and turn the sound completely down. We couldn’t turn the tube off because TVs back then had this blinding light when they would go out. It was similar to the light they use in Men in Black. I think it was subliminally telling us to watch more television. So turning it off would have gotten us in serious trouble and we avoided serious trouble at all cost. (well, avoided it while breaking the rules, I mean)
It was Sunday night and we were sent to bed and now we no longer complain or anything about bed time. We are all “If you insist, mummsie, you really know best!” and “I truly appreciate that you care so much for our health and send us to bed at a reasonable hour!” and “Mom’s the best, don’t ya think?” because we were not being obvious at all. I’m sure my mother was tipped off, but she had six fucking kids and if two aren’t complaining about bedtime then she was going to take it.
So we climb into our SEPARATE beds because we have those now, and we start to watch our lovely Jeffersons. I remember what we were watching because it was George’s Big Fucking Mouth yelling at Flo that got us into trouble. So we are lying there in our beds and watching our most spectacular thirteen inch black and white miracle, and the noise from the set is too loud and our mother yells “Girls, go to sleep!” MY sister points to me and I get up and turn the sound down a smidge.
I look up at my sister and she gives me the thumbs up. We continue our new television habit of watching TV when we are in bed, and let me tell you, I think that this is what the REAL Heaven is like. We aren’t in real heaven though and we are super paranoid, so every sound we hear, we jump up and turn the sound down and turn the picture down. We alternate whose turn it is and this is probably a trademark of all children who are breaking the rules, they are extremely good at cooperating with each other. We never fought over whose turn it was, but we fought over many other things…so it wasn’t that we never would fight. So everything on this particular night is going great and we are able to watch our beloved television.
My mom must have gotten suspicious by the lack of “Take a Stick of Bumbleweed!” being sung in rounds wafting from our bedroom and got up to check on us. (I’m not really sure what the name of this song really is, but we called it that, so forever in my mind it’s the name) (Also if you do know this song, you’re so welcome for me getting it stuck in your head for the next three weeks.) We hear my mother walk towards our bedroom, and we know it’s her because she walks with all heals and purpose (because she is a nurse who has to walk with a purpose to save lives and shit). I get up because it is my turn. I run quietly to the treasured TV and I turn down the picture but not the sound. (because I am not made for breaking the rules and I panic) My mother walks in and there are her two precious little angels fast asleep. But there is something alarming in the room because she can hear a man’s voice and not just any man’s voice, George Jefferson’s (big fucking mouth) voice. He is carrying on about Flo and this makes me giggle. (I’m great in emergency situations) My sister lies there stalk still and I am trying to be cool like her, but I’m not, nor will I ever be, cool like her. I am trying to stifle my fit of giggles as my mother wanders the room trying to locate the voice. That’s when the lights go on like a flash and there is my mother glaring over at the TV. It’s not the tvs fault mom, don’t be mad at my most wonderful television!
I yawn and do the ole “What’s happening?” like I was asleep the whole time. My sister does the same EXACT thing at the same EXACT time….because we are soooo smooth. My mother looks at us and says “That’s it, you two lost your television because you abused it.”
I was all like, “We didn’t abuse it! We love that tv. Don’t take away my Jeffersons we just got to know them.”
My sister is pissed because I was the dumbass that forgot to turn the sound down. I was pissed because no one should ever trust me with things like this, I’m irresponsible and I panic in emergency situations. (if I was ever the lookout or the get away car….you’re fucking screwed because I’m going to leave your ass, but not willingly just sort of in a moment of I don’t know what to do!) My mother took our most prized possession out of our room and that was the end of our thirteen inch black and white luxury. The light was turned off as abruptly as it was turned on and out stormed our mother carrying the only thing that I have ever truly cherished. The room grew cold and dark without the warm glow of our new friends the Jeffersons.
My sister hissed “You forgot to turn down the sound!”
“I know!” I choked. “I’m sorry!” I began to cry. I was ashamed that I let a good thing slip through my hands and my poor sister had to suffer the consequences of my actions. I cried myself to sleep that night because I had let my sister down and I lost the only remarkably good thing to ever happen to me. That television was a shift in the dynamics in our home and well I just lost it for the both of us. This was a pivotal point in my life and it is so strange now that I think back on it. I learned that I didn’t like the stress of doing something wrong. All of that sneaking and trying to do the wrong thing perfectly was not for me. I was not built for crime. I was built for telling the truth and doing my best and above all else watching the Jeffersons on TV when it was allowed. But it was never allowed because I lost the Jeffersons forever. I did watch it when it was on syndication and I have to say it wasn’t as good as I remembered it. I liked it better when it was forbidden tv apparently.
Moral of the story: If you are planning to break the rules in your house, make sure that you don’t do it with your younger sister who can’t handle the heat…she will ruin it for you, every time. Also if you aren’t built for breaking the rules, it’s okay, you will be slightly less neurotic if you just choose the honest and good path. Another thing, if you are sneaking a good watch of tv when you are supposed to be in bed going to sleep, Don’t Forget to Turn the Sound Down Too!!!! That last one is crucial because you will lose your tv privileges and no one wants to go down like that. It was bad Man. I clearly never got over it.
Until Next Time 🙂