Thursday, November 4, 2010

Destroying the TV Guide: Urbandale 1974

The TV Guide used to be the #1 selling magazine at one time. It was a small publication, thick and hard and square, about the size of a current-day DVD box. It was published once a week, I think. Embarrassingly enough, we were big TV people when I was a kid. We--us kids (except perhaps Second Oldest Brother) and my mother--used to get excited when, each year in the fall, the TV Guide featuring all the new shows would come out. We would read about them and decide what we would watch and what we would not. And we watched a lot of shows together as a family: The Addams Family, Mary Tyler Moore, M.A.S.H.--oh crap--and many others (which fortunately I can't even recall now). But, that's not what this post is about. It's about how I came to enjoy destroying the TV Guide.
As I've mentioned before, I was a very unhappy adolescent. I had a lot of pent-up anger. I was introverted most of the time but also an aggressive little snot. (Okay, I wasn't little by then, probably at or over 6ft by then, nor was I ever a snot. I was sensitive and introspective and depressed and could be dumb about the most basic things. I was also a boy and as a boy I liked to knock things down and tear things up and run around till I fell down.) So--and I don't know how I discovered this--one way I found to get out my aggression was by destroying the TV Guide each week.
As soon as my mother bought a new one (or it arrived in the mail, I think she subscribed eventually) and the week was over, I grabbed the old magazine and began to punch it. I would throw it up in the air and kick it, slap it, crunch and chop and slice and dice the fat little thing with my bare hands. I killed it. Murdered it. Mutilated it. It brought me great joy to start it out fresh in the living room and smack its glossy pages--Blam Blam Blam--and see how the magazine began to fall apart as I worked it all around the house. I made it fly against walls and down the stairs and back up, it hit ceilings and floors, the stove and fridge, chairs and doors, my knuckles dug into it and its spine would crack and bend and pages would fly and I did not stop until it was a mealy mess.
I did not imagine the TV Guide to be anything other than what it was. It did not represent authority figures in my life or boys I disliked or evildoers or enemies of any kind, it was not a fantasy moment, this destruction. It was just a pure outletting of desire, desire to destroy something. I became very concentrated as I hit and swatted and dismembered that magazine. And I understood what I was doing, that it was a release, that it was a type of therapy. I know my mother was somewhat unsettled by such behavior, but she couldn't stop me. No one could. And I so enjoyed it. I looked forward to it each week.
Ahhhh. It was fun.
And it was only the TV Guide, no other publication would do. And, maybe but two years later, I learned to dislike TV itself. I remember I sold my own little TV for 50 bucks to Jim at Younkers, because I wanted to give it up. And I did. I think I was so full of TV watching by the time I was in my late teens that I had no desire to watch much of it ever again. I still don't . . . As for the TV Guide, as far as I know it still exists, but I'm not sure. And if it does, I think maybe I could still put it to good use if I bought one; I bet I still have a lot of aggression to release. Lord knows I could use the exercise.

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