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I grew up living by a hard and fast rule that television was not to be watched during dinner time. The family dining room had a perfect line of sight to the tv in the living room, but my mom and dad made it a point to conversate with me and my younger sibling.
It was a good rule in hindsight – a simple way to unplug for a half hour or so and recount what I had learned at school that day. But that rule flew out of the window during college when I would have the tv on at all hours of the day – during study, while I pregamed for cramped parties in dingy basements, and even while I slept.
That carried over to post graduate life, where I now get home from work, flick on the tv, and most oftentimes groan as I look at the options in my pantry for something that qualifies as dinner.
Whether it’s a grilled cheese or something a little more complicated like chicken roulade (a personal favorite), I have to have a television show or movie picked out and ready to play before I can eat my meal. And let me be very clear – this “television on while I eat” thing is something that I need strictly when I’m dining at home and I’m alone.
If I’ve got someone with me, I don’t need the tv – this is only something I need on a depressing Tuesday or Wednesday night when it feels like the week is never going to end and my professional life is going nowhere.
Oftentimes I’ll get so distracted by the task of picking out something to watch on Netflix that I’ll forget that I have food in front of me, and whatever it is that is on my plate will go cold.
And there’s no worse feeling that having to settle. If you forget to pick out something before you begin cooking, you’re bound to go with an impulse pick when you set your plate down on the coffee table and it’s going to be terrible – probably Around The Horn on ESPN or a Family Feud repeat on a local network. Because my brain is now conditioned to thinking that I need something to watch, I rarely forget to select something before I fire up the gas powered stove top, but the meal becomes less-tasty for me if I don’t have a good tv show to go with it.
I’m not proud of the person that I’ve become, but for better or worse it’s who I am now. I can’t scroll my phone and eat at the same time, so the only option is to throw something on that isn’t too thought provoking or serious. That is a key ingredient of the weekday dinner time television show or movie – it can’t be anything that requires a lot of attention.
I’ve seen every episode of The Office two or three times over now, but that’s always a good go-to option, as are Parks and Rec, an errant Curb Your Enthusiasm, or Drugs, Inc.
Sidenote: Don’t ask me why, but Drugs, Inc. is sneaky one of my favorites to throw on while I eat.
I’m waiting for the day when I come home and immediately turn on the local evening news, but that day hasn’t come just yet. Eventually that will take over as the default show to watch while I eat, but for now I’m still in my 20s and enjoying the process of having something queued up and ready to go while I make my super depressing dinner for the evening..
Image via Unsplash