My boyfriend and I came to the decision to shut off the cable by accident.
When we moved into our condo, his TV needed to be repaired. It was only supposed to take a few days. It ended up taking three weeks.
Like many cohabiting couples, we'd fallen into a pattern of coming home from work, making dinner and plopping in front of the tube for hours. What, we wondered, were we going to do without it?
Luckily, the weather was still nice at that point, so we bought cheap bikes and rode through our new neighborhood after work. We starting eating dinner at our kitchen table instead of on the couch. We even got library cards. Still, I figured when that when the TV was back, we'd sign up for cable and resume our previous existence.
I was in for a shock.
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"How about we don't get cable?" my boyfriend asked. "We can save some money. And I kind of like how we've been doing other stuff at night."
I started silently at him for about 30 seconds.
"Is that OK?" he asked. I formed the word "yes" on my lips, but it wouldn't come out. Finally, I settled for a nod.
The past couple of weeks had been nice and all, but did he seriously expect me to say goodbye to the TruTV forensics shows I loved so dearly? Did he really mean the end of Paula Dean and Giada and all my other Food Network faves? And -- for the love of God -- no more "South Park?" It was too much.
An Unplugged Pariah
Alienation set in when I broke the news to others.
"How do you live?" one of my best friends asked, and when a co-worker brought up "True Blood," I must have looked like a deer in the headlights.
Whenever I visited my mother (and her cable hookup) I fell into a trance, flipping through all the channels or watching the same missed station for hours. "Please, Lauren," she pleaded with me one night during one of my relapses. "No more crime shows."
It makes sense, financially. In most areas, a standard cable hookup costs about $45 per month before add-ons like premium channels, DVR or TiVo. According to CNN, more people are cutting cable to save money, turning to cheaper options like Hulu (and, um, talking to one another). Between the recession and a new mortgage, it amounts to a lot of savings for my boyfriend and me.
Clean & Sober
Several months later, my longing for Lifetime has leveled off, and, as a consequence, I have more time to have a real life. My boyfriend and I spend our weeknights making romantic dinners, dancing to Frank Sinatra in the living room, working out, reading or playing games. And we're pursuing individual hobbies, too: I signed up for a dance class and joined the alumni association at my college. He wants to take a boxing class.
Another friend drove home the point a few weeks ago. While talking about all the things my boyfriend and I are now doing, she stared sadly and said, "Wow. Look at you fulfilling your lives. All me and Steve do everyday is figure out what to watch on TV."
That's a life I never want to go back to.
Lauren Fritsky blogs about news and gender for Lemondrop.