How I work around my TV addiction


I can’t blame you for thinking I must be addicted to TV.

I’ve been writing so much about my viewing habits lately it must seem as though I only have time for refrigerator runs and bathroom breaks.

For example, I’ve been shameless about my affinity for “Star Trek.” I’ve mentioned it here so often my wife is beginning to get embarrassed for me and maybe even a bit disgusted. She helps edit my columns and as she was trying to make sense of one a few weeks ago, she told me “it’s getting old.”

She probably sighed heavily and put her head in her hands when this popped up on her computer screen.

Just last week, she was forced to appear in public after I wrote about our 17-year-old son caustically accusing me of hitting “the trifecta of teenage girl fandom.” In other words, I watch “Supernatural,” “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock.”

Teenage boy contempt – that’s what I get for (a) attempting to find common ground with his younger sister who would otherwise prefer I remain off the radar unless, of course, she wants something and (b) allowing myself to get even more caught up in her shows than she is.

It doesn’t stop at our daughter’s dramas or “Star Trek,” either. If anything, my viewing schedule is expanding despite being under doctor’s orders to get more exercise. “Game of Thrones” is back on HBO and the Revolutionary War spy drama “Turn” is back on AMC. And while the new “Star Wars” trailer is not technically TV, I’ve watched it more times than I should admit.

The key to indulging such a heavy viewing habit is having an accommodating work schedule. I work nights and weekends, so I probably have more time alone during the day than most people.

The last thing you want, however, is to get caught living up to your reputation. That’s why I watch my shows in fits and starts.

Just the other morning, I came home from taking the kids to school and (a) got the dishwasher going (b) started a load of laundry and (c) vacuumed the carpets all before streaming the first 20 minutes or so of “Turn’s” season premiere. Then I got the wood glue and clamps out to put a fake door back in its place beneath our kitchen cooktop before returning to the TV. The door had fallen out earlier that week.

But when I sat back down to reward myself with another 20 minutes, I got busted.

My wife came home unexpectedly. It was in the middle of the morning. She had apparently forgotten something and only briefly breezed home. But it was enough to make me feel guilty.

That’s why I spent the rest of the day cleaning the bathrooms, mowing the lawn, walking our big dog Rodney, picking up the kids at school, making sure they got something eat, taking our daughter to dance class, going to the grocery store and then picking up our daughter from dance class before returning home late that evening to find my wife exhausted from work but ready for the mindless guilty pleasure we watch together.

After a long day, I was ready, too. But since TV gets me into enough trouble without outing my wife, that show is going to remain between us.

You might be a Superwholock if …


I’m not sure that I should bring this up. After all, it could shred whatever credibility I have left after writing this column for the past several years.

On the other hand, why be shy now? I’ve publicly confessed to so many inadequacies that I might as well go all in, so here goes: Apparently, I have “hit the trifecta of teenage girl fandom.” Those are the exact words our son used to describe the current state of my life — as he sees it, anyway.

I don’t remember our conversation word-for-word, but we were in the car at the time, on our way to spend some of the money he received for this seventeenth birthday. His 13-year-old sister and I had just finished exchanging observations about the television show “Supernatural” when he reduced my life to something that more resembles his sister’s than a 51-year-old man’s.

From the backseat, our daughter ran with his remark, suggesting that I’m a “Superwholock.”

I did a double-take.

When I glanced in the rearview mirror, she saw the question in my eyes and slowed things down for her old man.

“Dad, you’re a Super … Who … Lock.”

“That’s a thing?” I asked.

“It’s a thing,” she replied as my son rolled his eyes. “On the internet.”

She went on to explain that a “Superwholock” is made up of the fandoms of three TV shows. The first, of course, is “Supernatural.” The others are “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock”, the British series starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s venerable detective.

She said “Superwholocks” would love nothing better than seeing the three shows mashed up into one (OMG!).

You might be wondering where “Star Trek” fits into all this. I did, too. But it doesn’t. Not neatly, anyway. Besides, this proves I’ve got a life beyond “Star Trek.” It’s just that it’s anchored by … three other TV shows.

In my defense, I’ve been a “Doctor Who” guy for a long time. I discovered the show on PBS when I was our daughter’s age. I started reading the Sherlock Holmes books and stories back then, too.

“Supernatural” is a more recent addition to my repertoire. Initially, I started watching it so my daughter and I could have something to talk about other than the one-sided conversations we usually have that revolve around putting away her shoes and turning down her music.

Now, however, I’m hooked. And, maybe I’ve been a little too enthusiastic, even for a teenage girl. In fact, our daughter told me to “get a life” when she discovered how much I’ve been binge-watching “Supernatural.”

Actually, I did “get a life” this week. At least, I got out from in front of the TV long enough to take our son to a Washington Nationals game. My wife had bought us tickets as a present. Our birthdays are two days apart and over the past few years a Nationals game seems to have become part of our birthday tradition.

Spring games can be a hit or miss affair weatherwise. One day can be warm and sunny, the next cloudy and chilly.

Unfortunately, I was shivering by the time our game ended. But I still had a blast. Any day at the ballpark is a good day, especially when it’s spent with a son who will be leaving for college before I know it.

Besides, I apparently needed the testosterone.

I know where they keep the motherlode of Girl Scout cookies


Last week, I stopped watching “Star Trek” long enough to venture away from my TV to run an errand for my wife.

She wanted me to leave the warmth of home and bundle up on what will probably be one of the last truly bone-chilling days of this winter.

I shouldn’t have been happy about it, but I was. The errand involved a harbinger of spring, namely Girl Scout cookies.

The cookie season rolls around at this time of year as surely as baseball players enter spring training, daffodils begin emerging and our dog Rodney renews his daily barking match with his nemesis – the neighbor dog on the opposite side of the backyard fence.

After dragging my puffy, down jacket out of the closet for perhaps the last time this season and leaving the TV to fend for itself, I hustled our Girl Scout daughter into the car. My wife wanted us to meet our daughter’s leader to fetch the cookies our neighbors, co-workers and friends had ordered.

The only thing was, I had no clear idea where I was going.

My wife’s directions took us down a long, winding road that seemed to lead into the middle of nowhere. It was such a long drive that our daughter got bored with obsessively flipping from radio station to radio station to find the perfect song. She silently stared out the passenger window watching the cold, grey landscape pass by. The clouds seemed eerily close and swollen with the promise of more snow.

Just as I was beginning to worry about a slick drive home, I finally spied the semi-trailer my wife told me to find. It was parked at the end of the road and looked as though it had long ago been abandoned by the big rig that had left it there.

I soon found that looks really can be deceiving.

Our daughter’s leader arrived a short time later. She looked around before stepping out of her car, as if checking to make sure she wasn’t followed. Then she slowly walked toward the trailer. I didn’t notice but I’m pretty certain she must have knocked on the side of it in a certain way or softly whispered a password that wasn’t meant for my ears. In any case, the trailer’s door slid open revealing the motherlode of all Girl Scout cookie stashes.

I might be kidding about the long drive and all the cloak and dagger stuff but I really did stumble upon what apparently was the Eastern Panhandle’s entire supply of Girl Scout cookies. That trailer was brimming with cases and cases of my favorite Thin Mints and Savannah Smiles, plus Do-Si-Dos, Trefoils, Samoas and Tagalongs.

I was cheerfully told by the woman whose job seemed to be to stand watch over the stash that the neighbors know when the cookies arrive when the trailer shows up. She chuckled as we collected our daughter’s cookie order.

The presence of that semi-trailer may be an open secret, but the last thing I’m going to do is publicly reveal where it’s located.

But now that I know where the Girl Scouts park it, you can bet I’ll be looking out for its arrival next year.

And not just because I have an insatiable craving for Thin Mints. It’s because that trailer, at least to me, has joined baseball and daffodils as another sign that spring is on the way.

You don’t want to know what our clothes smell like


To say that my family celebrated my wife’s birthday this week is overstating what actually happened.

Between her work schedule, my work schedule, doctor appointments, dentist appointments, our daughter’s dance classes, Girl Scout meetings, rehearsals for her middle school show choir and the latest Apollo theater musical and our son’s trumpet playing schedule, driving lessons, piano lessons and various evening meetings, it’s little wonder we haven’t had time to take a breath and blow out any candles.

I even had to briefly put off booting up Netflix for my daily “Star Trek” fix so I could pop online to order birthday flowers.

The horror!

Needless to say, the demands on our time are extensive and I haven’t even mentioned our animals.

Take our dog Rodney’s manic insistence that he be taken for hours-long walks all over our neighborhood and beyond.

My wife has to take him immediately upon returning home from work in the evening. If she doesn’t there’s a distinct possibility he could do significant damage to our house. He spins around so fast and barks so loud, it’s a wonder he hasn’t whipped up a mini-tornado and reduced our house to splinters.

And then there’s the extra laundry we’ve lately had to do courtesy of our ornery cat Skitty. She’s taken to relieving herself ON TOP OF OUR DRYER!

There’s nothing that adds to that warm “fresh out of the dryer” feeling like cat urine seeping through the lint trap.

You might think the change in Skitty’s bathroom habits is an unusual thing for a normally fastidious cat, but she has a lot to contend with, too. Namely, the long-standing “live and let live” truce between her and Rodney has been broken.

I feel bad because it’s my fault. I’m the one who made the decision to take in another stray a few months ago.

We call her “Little Cat.” We tried calling her a couple of different names, but “Little Cat” seems to have stuck and she has become Rodney’s “Best Friend Forever.” Between the two of them, they’ve been making Skitty’s life miserable.

Skitty has always made herself at home on top of our dryer. We took to feeding her there to keep Rodney from hoovering up her food. Now, however, she seems trapped by a younger cat and a giant dog who don’t understand that she doesn’t want to play when she jumps down from her perch. She just wants to visit the litter box we keep in the basement.

I generally know when Skitty has attempted to go to the bathroom when I’m startled by a flurry of activity and a lot of hissing. The poor cat can’t even pee in peace.

I can’t blame her for not relishing the thought of running what amounts to a gauntlet. But we are going to have to find a remedy for her and soon.

That’s because I’m planning a belated birthday dinner for my wife Sunday evening. It’s the only time of the week when we are usually obligation free.

The last thing I want is for it to be ruined because our clothes smell like a litter box that hasn’t been changed in a very long time.

Why “Star Trek” is going to have to take a back seat


At the risk of sounding like a tedious old bore who can’t stop talking about his aches and pains, I feel like I should revisit them, anyway – mostly because I’ve been making such a big deal about all the medical tests I’ve had to endure.

In any case, I have to find a new audience for my complaints. My colleagues at work are starting to give each other that “there he goes again” look every time I get wound up.

I started confiding in them to give my family a break. My wife has been giving me that same look when I seek sympathy, and I think our kids have started finding excuses to leave the room when I broach the subject.

I’ve been so desperate to find somebody to listen to me whine that I tried confiding in our cats.

They ignored me.

I probably should have expected that. Cats are nothing if not haughty.

Our dog Rodney has been a good sport. But he IS a dog. And dogs are easily bribed.

When he looks at me as if to say “please stop whining”  when we are out for a walk, I throw him a bacon-flavored treat and go on complaining about the pain I’ve been having on the right side of my rib cage.

Tasty dog treats only go so far, though. When we arrive back at the house, he stops begging for the next morsel entirely and starts straining on the leash, presumably to get away.

I tell myself he just wants to get back to annoying our cats. But the truth is, he’s probably had enough of me.

Basically, it comes down to this –  it seems that I can no longer rely on youth to maintain the good health I’ve always taken for granted. The tests that were performed this month indicate that I have a slightly overweight liver.

In hindsight, I guess that shouldn’t be surprising. It seems my liver  is just taking cues from the rest of the overweight me.

I’ve yet to get specifics from my doctor on what to do about it. That comes next week. But if the internet is to be believed, I’m not going to be streaming old “Star Trek” shows on Netflix quite as often.

A Google search suggests that I get off my rump rather than spend leisurely afternoons exploring strange, new worlds while the kids are in school and my wife is at work.

In fact, I’ve already started. The walks I take with Rodney are more frequent and brisker. I’ve also joined the stair-walking club at work.

I’m also trying to watch what I eat more carefully, which should please my wife. She’s been after me for years to take better care of myself.

But if she thinks I’m going to stop whining, she’s got another thing coming – especially if my doctor bans “Star Trek” from my daily routine.

Why I’ve been remiss


I’ve been more distracted than usual lately. That may not seem particularly remarkable. According to my wife, my focus on day-to-day tasks has never been stellar. But even I have noticed a turn for the worse. I’ve let deadlines slip and my “honey-do” list seems to be getting longer and longer and longer.

I could blame the arrival of 2015. The year isn’t even a month old and I’m pretty sure I’ve already reached my medical deductible, not to mention the limit of my dental insurance.

I showed up at the dentist’s office at the beginning of January, got comfortable in his chair and then had the uncomfortable experience of watching bits of a bad tooth come flying out of my mouth. My dentist had to grind that tooth down to a nub in preparation for a crown. It was like watching sparks shooting from a metal grinder. If you ask me, my dentist seemed a little too enthusiastic.

But that experience was just the beginning.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been compelled to undergo a series of medical tests that seem designed to shred my dignity.

I’ve been obliged to drink foul substances and required to recline in various positions at the hospital, where I’ve been irradiated and poked and prodded with various instruments. And that was when I was awake. I don’t want to know what happened while I was happily unconscious.

I should know in the next couple of weeks whether my condition warrants more poking and prodding and general anesthetics.

If all that weren’t enough, my eye doctor has been calling. Apparently, I’m overdue for my annual exam.

It’s as if 2015 is saying, “Welcome to your 50s, Mr. Snyder,” as it giggles behind its hand.

I know I should just be thankful I’ve made it this far, that I have the privilege of sitting around at work commiserating about various aches and pains with the other guys my age and boring the pants off considerably younger colleagues.

But the truth is, the complaints associated with getting older aren’t the real reason why I haven’t given my obligations the attention they deserve.

That honor belongs to Netflix. The streaming video service is giving me the opportunity to revisit some of my favorite old TV shows.

Specifically, Netflix is indulging my obsession with “Star Trek”. I’ve been re-watching all of the old shows from “The Next Generation” to “Enterprise”, leaving my wife dumbfounded. I’m sure she thought she was out of the woods when the final series went off the air ten years ago this spring. But she didn’t count on Netflix.

She will soon have reason to celebrate, though. I only have one more season of “Deep Space Nine” to watch and then my “Star Trek” binge will be over and I will have run out of excuses for not attending to my rapidly expanding “honey do” list.

Unless, of course, I find something else to binge watch.

Come to think of it, the new season of “Game of Thrones” begins this spring. Now is probably a good time to refresh my memory.

I could use a little more distraction between all those trips to the doctor.