In all my years of television viewing, I never thought that I would ever see something quite as boring as the Superbowl. As far as I am can tell, the Superbowl consists of approximately 17 days of pre-game “show,” 40 hours of beer commercials, and about 6 minutes of actual football–five of those minutes actually being commentary on the remaining minute of play. (I’m surprised they don’t bring out a psychic to get the ball’s point of view.) In fact, between all the hullabaloo over halftime shows, new commercials, and $2000 tickets, they should probably rename the Superbowl the “Hyperbowl.” (Superbowl, indeed. Why so shy? Why not the Galacticbowl, or the Ultimate-Mega-Ginormousbowl? Or for that matter, why not the Football World Cup? After all, I’m sure the other 5 ½ billion people on the planet would understand.)
However, as I said before, even though I had heretofore never thought to see something quite as dull as the Superbowl, this year I was proven wrong when, during the most recent showing I elected to stay home with Clementine while the rest of the family went off to enjoy the “fun” at a friend’s house. For some reason–perhaps it was guilt at dodging the Superbowl bullet– in a moment of ill-placed graciousness I gave Clementine control of the clicker–and here my troubles began.
Immediately she settled on a program called The Puppy Bowl. The Puppy Bowl consisted of half a dozen puppies running around a football stadium-themed exercise kennel. Every now and then one of the puppies would do what puppies do best and a human “referee” would have to step in to clean up the “foul,” all the while touting some kind of miraculous pet stain removal product, which I can only assume was the sponsor of the show. Once the mess was cleaned up, the human would step off-screen (presumably to call up his agent and fire him), and the puppy bowl would continue. And continue. And continue. For seven hours, of which Clementine watched at least five. She would flip around during the “dull” moments (how could she tell?) and check out other shows such as My Small Breasts and I (no, I didn’t just steal that title from The Onion; it’s a real show).
However, no matter how enthralling the tribulations of the tiny-chested were (sample lament: “I can’t go out because I’m afraid people will look at my small breasts”), Clementine kept going back to The Puppy Bowl. And not because, like me, she was wondering how, exactly, it fit in with the “All Empires Eventually Decline” theory (personally, on the Roman model I would put The Puppy Bowl after the invention of the aqueduct, but before it became fashionable to serve your dinner guests heaping platters of hummingbird tongues), but because she actually enjoyed it. Which presented a problem I had never before considered: if she is entertained by this stuff now, how am I ever going to be able to tell if she’s on drugs?
In my day, being over the age of four and voluntarily watching Teletubbies was a pretty good indication that you were patronizing an alternative pharmacist, and yet here was Clementine, willingly watching something that made Dipsy, Tinky-Winky, La La and Po look like finalists for the Nobel Prize in Economics. I mean, if I can’t count on watching for vapid behavior to clue me in to potential drug use, what’s left? Watching for things like moodiness and being socially withdrawn? With a teenage girl that would be kind of like standing by a river and watching to see if the water was getting any more wet.
Still, I guess it could be worse–she could’ve gone with the boys to watch–and enjoy–the Superbowl. If that had happened I wouldn’t just be worrying about potential drug use–I’d be worrying about potential brain death.