this is mark.  not bethany.  she doesn’t know i’m typing this, even so, i’ll keep it nice and clean so she won’t get frustrated or moan about how i always force her into awkward conversations — conversations where she has to explain why we actually aren’t as bizarre as the Munsters or the Seavers (like you didn’t know there was twisted stuff going on around that house — Mike’s best friend was named Boner for gosh sakes.)  evidently, not everyone in the world makes their children strip down naked in the backyard to be hosed off when they “soil themselves.”  see how polite i was just then?  i’m practically British aristocracy.  polite. moving on.

we don’t have good television.  the actual device we stare at measures only 19″ and came free of charge.  a rich guy we never met gave it to us because bethany agreed to marry me.  nobody sent anything when i agreed to enter into a contractually binding mortgage at a 6% APR .  not even a radio.  regardless, the television isn’t a digital set, so we use the old rabbit ears; this year we went “digital” because the government mandated a broadcasting change.  they can’t seem to figure out how banks work, but …broadcasting, sure.  we march boldly into the future steely eyed with unwavering resolve.  i purchased a digital converter and kept the rabbit ears.

this set up means we receive three stations; no more, no less.  they are all PBS.  we receive the local and the large-city-nearby PBS and the erotic stimulant of nerds the world over: the research channel.  i don’t mind.  my children are fed only education based programming.  spelling has improved.  vocabulary has improved.  number theory is still elusive — to all of us, actually.  my children hit each other less and Clifford the big red dog is slowly reconditioning their wayward souls.  i think Burke may ask Barney into his heart really soon.  keep praying, everyone.  they routinely watch Roy Rogers and Nature and This Old House. i am pleased and i don’t have to pay for cable.  that’s a double-rainbow blessing that is.

also, my kids don’t watch the buzzing, flashing neato world the Dark Overlord Disney pumps out from beyond the grave and for that i am happy.  once Nickelodeon stopped airing the Monkeys sometime around 5th grade, i tapped out and revoked all commitments (public and otherwise) previously made to the winsome boys from Pleasant Valley.  PBS has done right by us, or so i thought until last month.  that’s when the following scenario unfolded before my blinking-in-utter-confusion-eyes.

i passed by the living room and noticed they were watching The Lawrence Welk Show.  Liam and Burke sat cross-legged their chins tilted slightly upward enraptured by the strange people with large hair, painted faces and god forsaken costumes dancing…not dancing like normal people…but dancing like, well Romanians, actually.  they twirled and hopped and…it was rough, like pastels and accordions and glossy, shining, painted lips — an Orbit commercial without the self-aware wink.  i slowly crept up between the boys, but they didn’t notice because these two young men with their yet undeveloped brains absorbed crappy programing like it was the word of the Lord carved by the finger of god into granite tablets.  that’s when the show panned left over to four women bobbing their massive hair side to side with the 4/4 rhythm in plaid skirts.  sickening scenario.  i couldn’t stand it any longer and just as i was moving to reach for the green power button, Liam spoke first:

“which one do you like?” he asked his brother.

“that one there…her.” Burke answered quickly as he pointed to a sassy-looking brunette with cleavage.

PBS rot in hell.