Cutting the cord has its consequences

Cutting the cord has its consequences

When the cable company jacked up our monthly rate by 60 bucks, my wife acted with the ruthless efficiency of Tony Soprano.

She cut the cord immediately … bada bing!

There was no discussion, no negotiation, no last-second reprieves.

Her unilateral decision was based on several conversations we’d had since the holidays ended, a time when many couples reassess their financial situation, especially those on largely fixed incomes.

With her having been retired for five years and my working only 26 hours a week, there’s precious little in the way of discretionary spending, especially with healthcare costs being what they are.

Not that we’re poor … we just have to be careful.

Aside from the fiscal reality, the bigger consideration has always been the virtual wasteland of cable’s 200-plus-station landfill, a blighted landscape so devoid of quality programming as to make one yearn for the olden days when three channels were sufficient.

Not that we haven’t supped heartily at the table of pay-TV excess.

We have.

And in the interest of full transparency, I’ll confess to wrapping tinfoil around a length of coaxial cable in order to get free HBO, a trick that was shared by a friend of a friend, one that I passed on.

But that was back when I paid $130 a month for an apartment that had one bedroom, a living room, a galley kitchen and a bathroom with no tub, though the second-floor balcony was a lovely touch, giving me a little taste of the high life, a luxury I always enjoyed, grilling a nice T-bone steak while listening to "Exile on Main Street."

Now we live in a home with three bedrooms, two living rooms, a spacious kitchen, a utility room, three bathrooms, a two-car garage and a backyard patio surrounded on three sides by piney woods, though some jerk has been building a house back in there since the fall, a hideous intrusion on the silence of our outdoor private space.

It’s probably a good thing I didn’t invest in that hot tub.

But the immutable fact remains that, for the first time in our years together and before we met, television is no longer a fact of life. We must now rely on the internet and various streaming services, which won’t be a hardship on my wife, who’s been riding that wave for a long period of time, but for me, it’s a different story.

Not that I disagree with her decision to kick cable to the curb.

It had to be done, and I’m grateful she acted quickly, since my tendency toward procrastination would only have delayed the inevitable, so I’m greatly relieved to have had that cup pass me by.

And honestly, about the only time I ever employed our brand-new flat screen in the sunroom was for sporting events; in fact, the last thing I saw was the Super Bowl, though owing to my weekends-only work schedule, I only got a chance to see the fourth quarter.

What now, though? With March Madness on the horizon and the Masters soon to follow, I will have to get by without television, a daunting prospect that will require strength and self-discipline.

I suppose I could claim a retroactive decision to give up TV for Lent, but I don’t think God would fall for that bit of mendacity.

No, the best thing for me is to make a friend, but that’s not likely.

We’ve lived down here for more than 20 years, and though it shames me to admit it, there isn’t a person around I would feel comfortable asking if I could stop in to watch a ballgame on TV.

That’s unfortunate, isn’t it? You’d think that after all this time, I would have cemented at least one reliable alliance, a bond I could always count on, something I had by the dozens back home.

I guess I’m a different person now, someone who’s been burned by faithless would-be friends too many times, a guy who’s learned the hard way you have to be very careful when it comes to trusting, the poor sap who’d rather listen to the radio by himself rather than venture out into a world that has grown increasingly unwelcoming.

Wow … that was a depressing paragraph, now wasn’t it?

Let me adjust the trajectory of this epistle. All I’m saying is a future without television probably won’t be unlike the one any addict confronts when denied a fix. It’s a habit that can be kicked.

The key is how I handle the withdrawal pangs. The real pain is going to arrive in the fall when I can no longer watch — or record — Notre Dame football games. That has been a part of my life since long before I headed off to study there after high school. Following the Fighting Irish, Saturday to Saturday, season after season, has become so deeply engrained in my sense of self that I do kind of worry how I’ll respond when I can no longer be a part of it all.

What the hell, right? I’ve got until September to wean myself from the teat of the boob tube and by then, who knows? I might have made a friend, though that’s about as likely as ND winning another national title. It is against all the odds, but that’s how we roll.

Until then, as Tony Soprano says, I’m just going to fuhgeddaboudit.

Mike Dewey can be reached at or 6211 Cardinal Drive, New Bern, NC 28560. He invites you to join the fun on his Facebook page, where people still discuss the idiot box.

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