If, like I am, you are an insatiable watcher of cable news and other panel shows, then you, too, have been invited into the homes of the Talking Heads. Thanks to the magic of Zoom and its ilk, it’s no longer necessary for the various experts to appear at the studios of CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, or Stephen Colbert. Instead, they can remain safely at home during this time of COVID and fortunately, we don’t have to be deprived of their wisdom.
They can expound on the latest headlines of the day, or discuss their new tell-all books from the safety of their houses or apartments while we, through the prism of the TV screen, become unwitting voyeurs, catching glimpses into their lifestyles.
As a result, there are those moments when I lose track of the in-depth analyses they proffer because I’m busily scrutinizing the paintings and the various tchotchkes (decorative, but useless objects) that adorn the homes of these experts.
I suppose if one is letting America enter into the sanctity of one’s own home, there are serious decisions to be made about the back drop. Like, where do I sit? Which room best reflects my persona? What does my sofa say about me? And definitely remember to remove all plants that haven’t been watered in three months.
It appears that one of the more favored spaces from which to be televised are kitchens. In my hours of viewing I’ve observed a spectrum of styles ranging from the warm, if somewhat old-fashioned decor of a particular former Senator, to the very modern, sleek, industrial-type that seems to be preferred by at least two political analysts.
It’s the latter type about which I wonder. These kitchens are perfect, perhaps too perfect? I mean, where’s the coffee maker? The toaster? Not an exposed appliance to be found on any surface. Instead, there’s a vase with fresh sunflowers. Or a perfectly placed pineapple on the island counter, next to a bowl of perfectly unblemished fruit. Does the room always look like this, or have they hired a stylist to determine the optimal location for that pineapple? And did she also decide that pineapples were more photogenic than, let’s say, a watermelon?
With nary a crumb to be found anywhere, the thought does occur to me that perhaps these aren’t their real kitchens at all, but in fact, they are sitting on a counter stool in some decorator showroom.
Kitchens are fine, but it seems if you really want your weighty words to be taken seriously, choose to be interviewed in the room where the books are stored. There’s nothing like sitting in front of floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall book cases filled with hard-covered editions to convey the message that wisdom resides here.
And these bookcases are themselves impressive. Most look custom-made of fine wood, not the do-it-yourself Ikea jobs that always seem to have left-over pieces even when you think you’ve carefully followed the directions.
But as impressive as all that custom cabinetry may be, there is once again inherent distraction. As with the artwork and the tchotchkes (defined above), I find there are times when my concentration is focused, not on the implication of the latest CDC report, but on trying to read the titles.
No light reading here. These books look quite serious. After all, how believable would someone be, sitting before the “50 Shades” trilogy, paperback edition, as opposed to the lives of German philosophers and all three books in the Hilary Mantel Cromwell series. Hard cover.
If a particular guest has recently written a political expose, then multiple copies will of course be prominently featured, casually facing forward on a lower shelf.
I also become fixated on the placement of the books. Some bookcases are crammed from side to side, while others clearly have been “arranged.” I wonder if the same stylist who places the fruit also decides which books should be slanted, which should lay face up, and when and where to place the family photos.
So if, one day, I might be called upon to be a stay-at-home guest on one of these broadcasts (most unlikely), which would be my most flattering backdrop? Rather than my kitchen, I believe I would choose the image conveyed by sitting in front of a bookcase. Unfortunately, my shelves would be empty, unless I can figure out a way to display my vast collection of ebooks. If not, there’s always the tchotckes!
I’m not sure if I really believe in reincarnation, but I do find the notion very seductive. One can take a measure of comfort in the belief that, although one’s physical body may be dead, the soul can still thrive. Just think about it. I, or at least my soul, can start a new life in a different physical body or form. Which leads me to ponder about my present life, and whether my existence as Susan just may have been the result of transmigration, and in a former life I was, let’s say, a platypus. But a discussion about past lives is a topic for another day.
If you’re wondering what triggered consideration of reincarnation at this time, I’m about to tell you. (Even if you’re not wondering, I’m about to tell you.) You can blame it on the time of year. It’s almost fall, all right, but for me, it’s also check-up season. It’s the time when all of my annual medical visits come due, and with each passing year, it seems the calendar of appointments grows longer, and I am running from one doctor’s office to the next. My body is no longer a singular entity, but is dissected into its separate components, each one falling under the purview of a different medical specialist.
So what does this have to do with reincarnation, you may well ask? (Even if you don’t ask, I’m about to tell you.) Assuming I have some personal input as to where my soul lands in the next life, I’ve decided that I want to return as a car. And although I’m still trying to decide about make and model, foreign or domestic, sexy or practical, I’m certain that I want to spend my next go-around on earth as an automobile.
Does my choice surprise you? (Even if it doesn’t, I’m about to explain.) It’s simple, really. At least to me. Commencing with Labor Day I will have visited an opthamologist, cardiologist, gastroenterologist (that was the worst) periodontist, radiologist, and gynocologist. Waiting in the wings are the dermatologist, podiatrist, internist, and at least one more, whose specialty escapes me at the moment. (Perhaps it’s a memory doctor?) It’s exhausting!
But when I’m a car, and it’s time for my routine checkups, will I have to make numerous appointments and drive around from waiting room to waiting room? No! It can all be accomplished in a single visit at one location.
While I’ll continue to have as many moving parts as I currently do, possibly more, I will not be required to make separate appointments with a transmission expert, or a tire rotation specialist. I will not need someone with a degree in oil changes, brake examination, or piston inspection, not to mention a lube maven.
And, the visit won’t require my insurance cards, photo id, or checking off the boxes on an endless number of forms inquiring about my medical history. And the mechanic is not interested in the number of pills I take, or if there’s any possibility that I might be pregnant.
And best of all, I will no longer be required to wear those ridiculous paper gowns that open in the front, (or is it the back?), that barely cover your anatomy no matter where you tie the strings.
When I’m a new car, the maintenance visits will be simple. But as I get older, and some of my parts need replacing, there won’t be the hassle about finding the right specialist. The same friendly mechanic will have me up and running in no time.
All things considered, I think I’ve made a rational choice for my next life. And I feel supported by the fact that, if one examines the word “reincarnation” they will surely find the clue that helped guide me in this direction.
And when my mileage adds up, and it’s my time for a trade-in, I won’t be sad. Instead I will focus on the possibilities for my next life. Perhaps I can be something without a body altogether, and be completely maintenance free. So if I do have a choice, next time around I should like to be Alexa.
Originally posted October 15, 2019
About the Author
Susan is the author of two award-winning collections of humorous personal essays: “How Old Am I in Dog Years?” and “How to Complain When There’s Nothing to Complain About.” Check out her Author Page HERE.