There is only one thing more annoying than walking into a room where everybody is staring mindlessly at the television, and that is walking into a room where nobody is staring mindlessly at the television. What I mean to say, rather, is that there is nothing more annoying than walking into a room where the mindless television is on, but no one is watching it. This happens at my house with disturbing frequency, especially around one o’clock in the morning, after everyone (living) has gone to bed. (I say living because the only explanation I can come up with for this phenomenon is that there’s a ghost in my house with really bad taste in television. Really, really bad taste. Home shopping network bad. Lifetime movie-of-the-week bad. Oprah bad.)
How we got stuck with a Jerry Springer-loving ghost, I have no idea, although I will say that the fact that our house has existed for at least a hundred years might have something to do with it. After all, it’s not likely that every resident for the last century limited their viewing to Masterpiece Theatre and the Nature Channel—although, if you asked most (living) people what they watch, that’s all they’ll ever admit to. (It’s amazing that shows like “Bride Wars” and “Toddlers in Tiaras” get renewed year after year, because to hear people talk about them you would think that the only way anyone even knows of their existence is because they flipped past them once while trying to find that special on spotted lemurs. Apparently, all of the Nielsen houses are filled with ghosts as well.)
But, to give our ghost the benefit of the doubt, maybe he was one of those select, elite few who really did watch nothing but “educational television” his whole life. Maybe, before he died, he was the type of person who kept a copy of the PBS guide right next to his favorite TV chair. (My grandfather did.) Maybe it was only after his death that his taste for trashy TV became so dominant. In fact, maybe that’s how it is for everyone—maybe, no matter what your taste was like in the corporeal world, in the afterlife you become a Twihard.
This would explain why all of the early morning TV-watching ghosts I have ever encountered, in all of the houses I have ever lived in, have all watched such dreck: it’s just part of being a ghost, like wearing sheets and saying “Boo!”. It’s almost as if after you lose your corporeal self, you also lose your mental gag reflex. I don’t know: all I know is that never, not even once, have I walked in on a television playing to a room of none and seen anything on the screen that didn’t make me want to hold one hand over my eyes, another over my nose, and the other two over my ears. Wait, that’s too many hands. Anyway, you get the point.
Of course, I suppose it is possible that it was some human who was responsible for leaving the TV tuned to the especially awful channels—that is was the living people in my house who did it, and not the ghost. To tell you the truth, though, I’d rather think it was a ghost. I’d rather think my house was the victim of some malevolent inhabitation than think that anyone I either married or gave birth to is capable of watching more than ten seconds of “The Bachelorette.”
And so, I think I’ll just stick with my ghost theory. After all, it’s much easier to forgive someone that doesn’t exist anymore. Now if I could only get the ghost to stop leaving potato chip crumbs in the couch, I’d be all set.