I love my chiropractor. Not romantically but how you love a bartender. We get
together once a month like clockwork. I always circle the date on my calendar
in blue (red is for Yahaira's period).
If you haven't been adjusted by a chiropractor, go! You leave with a full-body
high you just can't find on the street. A word of caution: no visit is as
good as the first, so enjoy it while it lasts.
For me, waiting in the lobby is half the fun. It gives me time to read.
The doctor could take forever and that would be okay. If I'm with Kurt Vonnegut,
he can take forever and a half.
Last week, however, I arrived at the chiropractor to find that my reading
zone had been swallowed by a television! Two moms sat there watching soap
operas, which some people do in lieu of leading their own lives.
I settled into a chair, trying to heed my shrink's advice -- don't fixate.
From my backpack I pulled two ear squishies. They killed most of the sound,
but evidently Laura was distraught because Jack had impregnated her mother
and everyone would find out that he wasn't paralyzed after all.
I clenched my book more tightly. My eyes tumbled over the words and my fingers
turned the pages, but nothing registered. How could they do this? The lobby
used to be my sanctum; now it was just another living room.
I reflected on other sectors that have been infiltrated by the TV: campgrounds,
the Laundromat, minivans, Thanksgiving dinner. . .
We are junkies hooked on the babble. That's why other cultures call us Babble-On.
It doesn't matter what we're watching so long as it doesn't stop.
"Shhh. The TV is on."
"What is it?"
Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of television, thought that broadcasting
would become the greatest educational tool known to man.
So It Goes.
The chiropractor's tube raged on, and I kept losing ground. I glanced at
the mesmerized moms, then at the TV on the wall. What did this guiding light
have to teach all its children?
The more I mulled, the worse it got. An Orwellian terror prickled my spine.
Have we really entered the age of the telescreen? It didn't command our behavior
per se, but it did wash over us day after day, shaping us with tabloid values
while we stare with open mouths.
I couldn't take it anymore; I removed my ear squishies and went for the
"This is my favorite part," I said, turning up the volume. When
it became entirely too loud, I turned it up some more.
The others looked at me the way my third-grade teacher did when she caught
me selling Playboys, and just then the doctor arrived.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. What's going on in here?"
"Hi!" I shouted over the McDonald's commercial. "Pretty annoying,
isn't it? Maybe I should turn it off."
I turned off the greatest educational tool known to man, and there was silence
-- sweet, nurturing silence.
The doctor began to reproach me, then remembered my "condition." The
pros call it borderline personality, but I like to think that I just overask
the question, Why?
The chiropractor nodded to the others and said, "Maybe it is time to
give the TV a rest."
"Oh, no," I protested. "Not on my account."
The doctor insisted. Then he insisted that I go next because I was, after
all, having personal issues. I followed him to the adjustment room for the
very last time, knowing I could never return.
In school, we learned about Blaise Pascal. He said that all human evil comes
from man's inability to sit still in a room. At least, I think that's what
he said. I could hardly hear my teacher over the television.