I’ve fallen into routine, and I’m okay with that. Every weekday, one of three things happens after I take my kid to school:
- I go to the Mud House, get all jacked on Americanos, pork, and good creative vibes, then write all day.
- I go back to bed.
- I make a giant cup of coffee, watch a rerun of “Law and Order” – preferably “Criminal Intent,” because time with Vincent D’Onofrio gives me good thoughts that last throughout the day. And frankly, some days I really need to see actors opening an overnighted package containing a human heart to get properly started.
Sometimes, I go back to bed anyway. Because, Vincent.
Yeah … my morning routine. Monday it was coffee and my one televised vice – a troubled detective who’s a big, hairy wall of man.
I’m veering into territory of the Obnoxious Non-Television-Watcher. “No, I don’t watch that show that you adore because I’m busy doing other things.” Like watching reruns of formulamatic crime shows because I find them oddly comforting and the star gives me dirty thoughts.
When I turned on the television Monday morning, I got a most rude awakening.
Who is this weasel and why isn’t he yelling at a murderer in an interrogation room while being emotionally pained and sexy?
Okay, it wasn’t anything dire; the TV happened to be left on a channel showing “The Jeff Probst Show.” Which I’ve since learned has a sell-by date at the end of this television season; it’s already been canceled.
No, I’ve never watched an episode of “Survivor” because I’m a pretentious culture snob who reads books and shit. But I knew about the existence of this guy and his show. This stuff creeps into brains.
I’m the prime demographic for the daytime talk show, aren’t I? Middle-aged, female, mom who has the means and the ability to be at home at times during regular business hours, and to be concerned with some really silly things. I must be, because I got sucked in by Probst and his Sassy Co-Host of Color. Because every daytime talk show has one, right? A non-threatening, often plump African-American female comedian who sits with her white hosts and provides color – in multiple senses of the word – without being a major player in the show.
Only Whoopi on “The View” gets to be in charge.
In this case she’s Yvette Nicole Brown from “Community” (Sorry, I don’t watch. But it does look good. Maybe I’ll catch it on the Netflix someday because I do feel like I’m probably missing something I would like a lot.).
When I accidentally tuned in yesterday, they were talking about the return of vinyl. You know, record albums. Probst was totally unbelieving that people still buy actual records. Brown, with the loud and sassy humor expected of her, talked about her love of dropping the needle, hearing the hiss, and listening to works of Shalimar and the O’Jays all the way through.
As a record collector, of course I’m in full agreement with her. I’d probably have a good time listening to that O’Jays album with her. I also know this isn’t the norm. Record collectors – especially female ones – aren’t the norm. Last Sunday I went to the St. Louis Record Show. It’s like a craft show, but with old records, that’s held four times a year. Vendors buy booth space, set up boxes of album and 45s, and nuts like me pay $3 for the privilege of entering the Czech Hall and rifling through boxes of records in search for music gold while drinking Czech beer. It’s one of my preferred ways to spend a weekend afternoon. Last weekend, I saw a whopping four other women at the show while I was there. All a little younger than me. The one nearest me was shopping for her husband.
Still, after watching Probst’s shock that albums exist, I posted on Facebook:
“I heard that vinyl might be making a comeback!” This is the crap I hear when I accidentally catch 10 seconds of a morning talk show. “But who has a record player these days?!” There are entirely different worlds that exist inside this weird little box in my house.
- When she cut her hair, it wasn’t a kid’s usual experimentation but a possible sign of mental illness.
- Because she’s flaunted her body, Miley demonstrates that she feels unloved.
- Her boyfriend’s embarrassed by her overt sexuality.
- Because she smokes pot and had a penis-shaped birthday cake, watchdog groups think Miley’s sleazy.
But Biebs? Aw, he’s just a little tot! Leave him alone.
You know who else is deemed a kid, albeit an “ignorant” one by the ladies of “The Talk”? Twenty-three-year-old Chris Brown. They discussed a violent, misogynist impromptu rap he performed last week in which he declared, “Don’t make me have to tell you again that that’s my pussy!” over and over.
Just an ignorant kid, indeed. Who happens to be the same age my dad was when I was born. I don’t recall him every publicly declaring anyone’s pussy to be his when I was a child.
I don’t know what happened next, because the local CBS affiliate broke in with breaking news about a shooting or something. The male who perpetrated it was a toddler.
And then there’s commercials, which is what CBS wants 40-year-old at-home me to really watch. This first break had ads for YouthCode moisturizer, a cleaning agent, a snack mix, a whitening toothpaste that refers to teeth as fashion accessories, foil that performs magic in the kitchen, chocolates given to a mom by her kid, shampoo for dyed hair, geriatric vitamins, and prune juice’s fitness benefits.
Number of products I have or intend to buy: three. Sort of. The snack mix when my grandmother’s version is out of season and I need to be reminded that the commercial version is a pale impostor, the non-magical store brand foil, and yeah, I’ll probably cave and buy the chocolate because that’s an inherent part of womanhood, right? When I do, I won’t worry about undoing the damage with prune juice or vitamins. I’ll probably just eat some extra veggies at dinner that night.
The show returns with Ellen K. I’ve never heard of her or her entertainment news show. But she’s here to tell us that Channing Tatum hates one-night stands. Hates ‘em! He believes in romance!
Sharon applauds him for being “the only man” to make such a claim. Marie (the Mormon) said that most men she knows abhor one-night stands and love romance. Her husband loves romance!
She doesn’t mention that he loves romance so much that they got married 25 years after they divorced. Which is fine. No judgment on the marriage. Just the glorification of romance.
Sara, bless her, is the voice of reason, although she’s so afraid of misspeaking that she doesn’t come right out and say that there’s a time and place for casual sex, and maybe it’s not such a horrible thing. When she becomes flustered she says that she’s afraid of putting her foot in her mouth.
Here’s your token lesbian joke at Gilbert’s expense, courtesy of Sharon:
“Well, that’s not all you’re afraid to put in your mouth!”
And then they all laughed as Sassy Sheryl also proclaimed herself pro-one-night-stand.
The verdict: straight white women want romance. Lesbians and blacks are slutty.
Of course that’s not what they set out to communicate, but when you break it down … Especially since Marie and Sharon spoke with such confidence in their convictions, Sara tip-toed around hers until she was shut up with a lesbian joke, and Sheryl crowed her feelings on the matter until what she was saying made no sense at all.
For the record? I’m totally pro-one-nighter for everyone who wants to partake. Go for it. Have fun.
More ads! This round has stretch mark-remover, painkillers, a cereal that’s supposed to make your family smile, frozen veggies, a quasi-negative-homoerotic spot for a gym that says it’s not a gym, former senator and “Law and Order” star Fred Thompson hawking reverse mortgages for retirees, and CBS shows.
Number of products I have or intend to buy: none. Had another “Law & Order” star been advertising the reverse mortgage, well, ask me in another decade.
Actor Jami Gertz is the first guest. Over 30 years and a bazillion roles later, she’s still introduced as being the girl who was mean to Sarah Jessica Parker on “Square Pegs.” She discussed her current show, where she plays a mom saving her stupid family who moved into a community of aliens or something. I forgot to pay attention because I saw something funny on Facebook and mentally tuned out.
But I came back for the commercials, which is the important thing. Diapers sold to the song “I Feel Pretty,” laundry detergent that’s used correctly by a man without being touted as being so simple a dude can use it without fucking up, a woman eating chocolate in an office to a soul groove, soup that says happy kids are made of bikes and balloons and noodles on spoons, eighty-calorie cereal that urges us to “shimmy shimmy chocolate,” a guy with prostate cancer touting an alternative cancer therapy center, and a prescription heartburn medication that might cause persistent diarrhea.
Number of products I have or intend to buy: none. I’ll take heartburn over persistent diarrhea, although I’m curious as to what point diarrhea can be clinically described as “persistent.” Not curious enough to guinea pig myself, though.
Next up’s a lifestyle expert – I have no idea what that means – who’s all pink and blonde and ruffly. She’s here to give advice to moms who have no time in the mornings and who *gasp* sacrifice their “beauty regimens” to get the kids out the door on time.
I do like girly makeup shit, but I can’t say anything I do to alter my appearance can be described in military terms. If that happens, please give me a good talking-to.
The expert’s three tips:
- Prep your closet – organize by outfit, hang all outfit pieces on the same hanger. (Okay, that’s a good idea and reasonable.)
- Own black flats that don’t require socks or pedicures. (Flats hurt my plantar fasciaitis. I’ll stick with my Birkenstock Mary Janes, which also don’t require socks or pedis.)
Her third tip isn’t so much a tip as an extended in-show advertisement for a quick-dry spray-on lotion. It dries so fast you can put on skinny jeans without getting them glued to your thighs, and still get out the door without earning your child a detention for being tardy!
Two moms are hauled out in beds and pitted against each other in a speed-dressing competition. One of the mothers has so little time that, after taking her three-year-old daughter to school in sweats, the child asked her to please wear a pretty dress next time.
The audience sad-moaned in empathy. Because what mother doesn’t know the pain of having a toddler who makes Chris Brown-style demands?
So the two moms raced – out of bed, into a pretend shower, hosing themselves down with the sponsor’s spray lotion, pulling on skinny jeans and silk shirts, with the first one finished winning a big shopping spree. Shimmy shimmy chocolating their spray lotioned asses into skinny jeans on national television in hopes of $2000 for new clothes.
Sorry Kid, but your mama lost and won’t be buying any pretty dresses for picking you up at school. You know, that place where you smear yourself in glue, crayon shavings, and the mucus of your young friends.
I’ve decided I’m also a lifestyle expert and here’s my advise:
- Get up earlier.
- Get over yourself. There’s no shame in dropping off in your sweats. Especially if you’re going home to watch “Law & Order” and self-satisfy.
- Don’t let your toddler dictate your self-esteem. Teach her that it’s okay to not look stylized and idealized. Then show her your c-section or episiotomy scar.
More ads! I’ll let you guess what the first one was. Stumped? Spray lotion! Followed by contact lenses, a spray to make vaginas pH-balanced, joint health supplements, cough drops, tubes of bread dough that Mom uses to curtail a fight between her adult sons (by making more rolls, not by beating them about their heads with the tube, which she should have done to them for being too lazy to make their own damn bread), a sweepstakes, the diet Sharon Osbourne’s paid to endorse, the same cleaner from the first ad block, and more CBS shows.
Number of products I have or intend to buy: One. I got my fill of the words “spray lotion” in that last segment. I have a magic self-balancing vagina. But those cough drops are pretty good.
In the final eight minutes they present actor Sheryl Lee Ralph, who’s pushing her new memoir, “Redefining Diva – Life Lessons From the Original Dream Girl.” We finally hear from Sassy Co-Host Sheryl, who loudly speaks up that Dreamgirl Sheryl once befriended her then stole her man. Specifically, her makeup artist.
Okay, not really. But man-stealing! Bad!
Ralph, when not making lie-jokes about her age, tells an interesting and thought-provoking story. After starring on Broadway in the original production of “Dreamgirls,” she came to Hollywood and was told by a casting director that he couldn’t cast her as the romantic lead in a Tom Cruise movie. Her talent and beauty were trumped by her race.
That would explain why my ’80s knowledge of Ralph wasn’t from the big screen, but from her role on shitty syndicated sitcom, “It’s a Living.”
The same agent told years later her that not casting her in that movie role was one of the biggest mistakes of his career.
Another breaking news story about the infant who shot someone in a beauty shop, during which I’d like to think that the Sheryls engaged in a discussion about race and media, and how black women still aren’t cast as romantic leads to white men very often, and are still relegated to the slapstick role on talk show host panels, handy for when another African-American is there to be interviewed.
Let’s pretend that’s what happened, okay?
And finally, the last ads. An antidepressant, cold medicine, hair color designed by someone phonetically named “KREEEE-stoph ROW-beeeeen” which is French for Christopher Robin, diapers, yogurt that you should eat instead of cookies when your lady book club is talking about dates instead of the book because a swap a day keeps the calories away, and more CBS shows.
Number of products I have or intend to buy: one. I’m not changing my antidepressant based on a commercial, but I do dig cold medicine. Especially the sleepy kind. It takes the edge off daytime talk shows.
Okay, so I’m not the target audience for daytime talk shows. Huge assumption based on watching a one-hour show and a few minutes of another. They’re not selling what I’m buying, so the chances that they’ll discuss anything that interests me or is relevant to lifestyle are pretty slim. Which is what it all boils down to.
When there’s a daytime talk show that sells advertising time to tube amps, small-batch bourbon, fat girl underpants, and comfortable shoes, I’ll watch it. But only when they prove their worth by having Patti Smith as a guest.