“Delicious and piping hot in just 4 microwave minutes!”
That’s it. That was supposed to be the height of my Monday evening: Treating myself to a ready-made meal; the expensive ones in the expensive-looking packaging. In other words, the finest. The diamond in the tiara of a Monday spent commuting to-and-fro the office and to-and-fro my Facebook page at regular intervals of 10 minutes. ‘Work in fashion’, they said. ‘Travel the world’, they said. And there I was, waiting patiently for my tagine to be ready and thinking “Since when the adjective ‘edible’ has been used positively?” “YUM! This tagine looks absolutely edible!”. It didn’t even, but hey, these are called Monday nights for a reason.
In the great tradition of modern living, I was also meditating about the ever-present possibility of watching something, anything, on my laptop while eating. “Oh isn’t that a jolly idea?” I can hear you murmuring.
Our glamorous Deputy Editor mentioned earlier in the day that she sometimes likes to give in to a certain political TV series with Claire Danes panting and gesticulating and being in a complete state of shock for most of the episodes. And our very own creative director is also a self-professed lover of everything TV-Series: If it comes in a box set with more than a season you can rest assured he has watched it. From the drama in the 17th Century Turkey to crypto-lesbian inmates with perfect hair, he is an absolute pro. “If they, from the height of their glamour can, than most certainly so can I” I hear myself thinking “I too can enjoy some small screen wonders on my even smaller laptop!”
I think about how enriching watching TV is and how much better my life will be with a series to follow of my own. Poor, delusional faggot
TLING! The four minutes it took my tagine to turn from red to orange worked their magic, dinner’s ready.
As I sit at the table with my meal, I gently savour the thought of watching a TV series, like all the other echelons of everything fashion and taste. I think I will find the most fantastic programme; something I can relate to with a well-written plot, a moderate use of cheap special effects and an attractive cast I can fall in love with. I think of the conversations I will finally be able to have with all the other editors at fashion week, joining in on heated debates on how unexpected this or that episode has been. Finally a man of letters and series who knows when and how to shout: “Only Jessica Lange could wear those shoes and get away with it” to the utter adoration of other fans.
I think about how enriching watching TV is and how much better my life will be with a series to follow of my own. Poor, delusional faggot. As I put my plate aside I start scanning the screen, looking for this sacred Graal of TV culture: This has Maggie Smith in it, it must be good. Oh my God this has Maggie Smith with a lilac hat in it, it must be exceptional! When I read through the few descriptive lines on the right my smile is quick at turning sour.
“Extremely English people abuse words such as ‘Papá’ and ‘Perhaps’ when quietly whispering amongst each other in this costume drama set in a manor in the great British country-side”. Yikes. Maybe not today, I think. Continuing my search, I stumble across some other appealing titles; “Law drama with Glen Close in which when asked questions, she enigmatically mutters even more, seemingly irrelevant questions while staring elsewhere”.
Ok, I admit this might not really be my cup of tea, but it is worth it to keep looking. While thinking this I turn to my tagine, which already doesn’t look as piping hot as promised on its packaging. I scroll down on my laptop and I see a series that used to be big a few years back: “Some people crash on a deserted island and have no idea what they’re doing”. I move on and avoid the “A decidedly alpha-male doctor does his job even if he is actually very grumpy” or the “When faced with emergency, a promiscuous looking doctor likes to have sex in the stockroom with anyone who comes at hand” hospital dramas.This other one is a classic it won’t disappoint me! “Kim Cattrall wears Chanel earrings while repeatedly talking about anal sex at a brunch”. While staring helplessly at the screen, I realise that finding the one is not as easy as I originally planned. The tagine at the side of the table now completely stopped emitting heat and its sauce is somewhat starting to look murky. “A TV adaptation of a series of fantasy books in which the one and only fantastical element in the story is the unconvincing darkness of the eyebrows of an otherwise albino princess”.
I give up.
I disappointedly start munching my meal in the still and absolute silence of my flat, the pale blue light of the screen blaring straight at my face. Until I hear a voice coming from my immediate left “I understand your pains”. I turn and sitting next to me is a 12th Century nun, irradiating holy light from the halo exquisitely perched on the very top of her veil, accompanied by non other than the blissful sound of trumpets in the ether.
She irradiates a warm breeze that smells of clouds and sweet popped corn. It is then that I realise my meal has gone cold and it struggles with barely holding together a stark taste of fuck all
Without really blinking my eyes, I turn back to my plate and start questioning the true nature of my tagine.
Slowly turning my head back to the nun sitting on my armchair, my immediate reaction is “Oh God it’s Orlán” Her face is gleaming sacred light and her eyes are the calm depth of the oceans. “No my dear, it isn’t Orlán. It is Saint Chiara, the saint patron of television”. Her voice is the sweet sound of the harps in the heavens. Contrarily to what one might think, yours truly is not at all scared of visions of Saints as he, deep inside is Italian and he is naturally equipped with faith whatever the need.
“Saint Chiara, of course, why are you here? Could I maybe offer you some tagine?” I calmly enunciate to her. “No my dear, I dined already but thank you for offering. I am here to help you. I have heard your desperate cries and it is my holy duty to dispense holy help with televisive issues”.
She irradiates a warm breeze that smells of clouds and sweet popped corn. It is then that I realise my meal has gone cold and it struggles with barely holding together a stark taste of fuck all. Putting my plate away I ask, “Saint Chiara, yes, yes I need your sacred help: I am trying to watch something while eating this cold tagine but I just can’t seem to be able to find something good to watch!”. Receptively she nods and smiles “ I understand your pains, you poor soul, and I am here to explain this great problem the whole human kind is facing; Choice”. Sensing the quizzical expression my face has taken, she calmly continues: “There once was television, a magical machine that would choose for you a small selection of things for you earthlings to watch while eating tagines, but now you have all decided television is not enough anymore. You want to have immediate access to everything at the same time. How in the glorious heavens could anyone ever choose?”. Shaking her head slowly, she adds “Good old 12th century when one could simply choose between watching the mass from her wall (You really should look it up on Wikipedia: An enthralling story) or a goat chewing grass in a field”.
I am taken aback by such holy revelations. “OH Saint Chiara, what a simple earthling to do then? How can one resolve this hugely modern impasse?!”
Saint Chiara looks just majestic while thinking up an answer. “There is no solution to this: One just needs to give in and watch everything that passes by, resistance is futile.” I explain my shock by asking why one must watch these things that are not that good if they have so much choice available. “Because it’s television we are talking about, my dear: If you want contents I know you have not finished that Turgenev book you keep on the bedside table”. We spend some time staring at the little yellow book by the bed, sporting a bookmark steeply planted in the very middle.
This remark has filled me with joy, “How true!” I say to her “How true Saint Chiara! Could you have meant that I should stop looking for deep beauty on the Internet? Could your immense knowledge have suggested that I should just embrace lowbrow contents without scavenging for depth?”
A profound nod is the answer from her incommensurable heights of sanctity. “Oh thank you, thank you Saint Chiara!” Smiling candidly she moves her celestial gaze onto my plate, left forgotten at the very edge of my table. “No need to thank me my dear”. After a few seconds in which I contemplate the breath-taking beauty of her visage, now fixed on the tagine, she enthuses “You could perhaps bring me a fork, my dear: That un-holy meal does not look half bad, after all”. As I hastily get up to fetch the cutlery she requested, she mentions if I have seen that TV thing with witches and fedoras. Coming back from the kitchen I mention that I have heard of it, but never really watched it. “Oh sweet heavens, let’s watch it! Only Jessica Lange could wear those shoes and get away with it!”, she brights up enthusiastically.
By Matteo Sarti
Originally published on Lujon Issue 2