Do I watch too much television? That depends on who you ask
All right, I admit it. I may watch too much TV.
But in my defense, I had a deprived childhood. We didn't have television where I grew up, in the canyons and hollers of the Coast Range.
Occasionally, certain neighbors of ours who owned enough land and had the financial wherewithal to run a cable to the top of a mountain (providing access to one Portland channel, KOIN) would invite our family over on Saturday or Sunday evening to watch "Gunsmoke" or "The Ed Sullivan Show."
Years would go by before satellites and cable TV would reach upriver, leaving most of us to entertain ourselves with books, newspapers, magazines and radio — all forms of media that continue to serve us well at our house today.
Meanwhile, though, I am pretty much addicted to television, especially nature shows and those British crime dramas, such as "Shetland," "Father Brown," "Vera," "Endeavour" and the like.
I'd like to be clear, however. We don't watch really bad TV shows, and there are lots and lots of those. No, I blow most of my viewing time on sports, movies, "Antiques Roadshow," "Well Read," "Cesar Millan The Dog Whisperer," comedy specials, news and Ken Burns documentaries.
We don't watch most of the hot shows on premium channels and cable because we only get what comes out of the air for free through our rabbit-ears antenna. We're not only discriminating; we're cheap.
All the fancy-pants shows — like "Orange Is The New Black," "Grace and Frankie," "Big Little Lies" and the like — we get from the library, the same place we get our movies.
Like I said, cheap.
Still, without cable, Comcast, Xfinity, Dish or Direct TV, I still manage to watch too much TV.
I quit smoking 35 years ago, and I just recently discovered I can go a week without alcohol. But I don't think I could just stop television cold turkey.
The other person who lives at our house thinks this is a problem. I disagree.
"Think of how much we would get done if we just turned off this TV," she said, innocently believing that it's the TV that keeps us from remodeling our house and writing prize-winning screenplays.
No, we have a gigantic list of things we need to do — both inside and outside the house — but it's not the television that keeps us from doing those things. No, it's a little thing I like to call inertia. I'm quite capable of doing things around the house and, once I've completed one of those tasks, I'm not only exceedingly proud I did it, but I also bore everyone I see about how I did, indeed, do it.
You'd think I was the host of "This Old House" the way I go on and on about the fine points of installing your own laminate flooring, or replacing a ceiling fan, or whatever. When I was still working full-time for the newspaper company, I'd even turn those things into pretty decent home-improvement stories.
But now that I'm a free man, not so much.
To the casual observer, of course, it does not appear that we have this TV addiction. There's no television screen in our living room, where most Americans seem to keep theirs. No, ours is upstairs in the "den" — a tiny room set up sort of like an office, with a computer desk and a bunch of bookshelves. And oh yeah, over in the corner is a wall-mounted flat-screen TV.
If we were serious drug-takers, this is the room where that would probably take place, out of public view.
I've asked myself all the key questions: Do I watch TV alone? (Yes.) Do I watch TV before breakfast? (Yes.) Do I frequently tell myself I could quit at any time? (Yes.) Could I? (Hell no.)
So, do I have a problem? Probably, but so what? I would bet that I don't watch any more TV than our president, and it doesn't seem to be hurting him, so leave me alone.
Now I have to go. "America's Funniest Home Videos" is gonna be on soon.
Mikel Kelly retired from the newspaper business in late 2015. Because he practices his music every Monday with his 27-year-old singing partner, reads with first- and second-graders through SMART (Start Making A Reader Today) on Tuesdays, walks with a group of retired friends every Wednesday AND contributes an occasional newspaper column, he
really doesn't have that much time to watch TV.