Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gawking on the information highway.

This morning something odd happened to me.  I was in the process of waking up over my morning-digital-breakfast (coffee, news, emails, tv, and so on,) and I noticed an old friend back home was online.  We began to chat.  I was flipping channels but as the chat got going, I set the television remote down to type.

At the moment I first (consciously) glanced at the tv, there were a series of photos of women, and a brief description beside each.  39, teacher, "I'm waiting to find someone who is honest and gentle to spend time with." 20, studying nursing, "I hate to be alone, love to go clubbing and talk with friends over a glass of wine."  I had hit on some bizarre televised-date-network?

It seems that if you like what you see and the accompanying description, you text in to get contact info, or more photos, or something.  It wasn't this that interested me though.  What struck me is that all of these women were perfectly good looking, employed in decent jobs, and somehow had arrived at the idea that this would be a good idea for them, to seek love on tv with the assistance of text messages.  Belgium is a small place too!  People in one little town know people who know people in another.  And people love their gossip.  "Did you know that so and so found out that their child's former play-friend is now on the dole with 3 children from different fathers?"  "Did you know that so and so got so tired of being alone that they put their picture on the TV looking for dates?"

It was bizarre, enough so that I commented on it to the person back home I was chatting with.  What some women put for their brief description was to be expected "I like nice meals, walking in the woods, and a guy who can spoil me sometimes"  or "I've been alone for awhile, and am looking for someone kind to pass my evenings with" (yawn), while others were positively entertaining.  One girl decides to really sell herself in the third person (though all others have written in first person) "Grace and beauty make her a beautiful woman".  My favourite: a 28 year old teacher: "I would have liked to become a lawyer but life hasn't always been gentle with me." ... um...so you're looking for a date?

It was a little like passing a car accident; you gawk fascinated and feel a sort of wonder and sympathy at the same time.  And then, just like the accident you pass on the highway it was past, and some ab-gadget was being pushed.  Finally something comes up, letting me know I'm actually on a home-shopping channel.  I think 'shopping for women on the home shopping channel?'  even stranger because how many people, let alone men, are watching the home-shopping channel?  (ok, I was this morning, but it was quite by accident.)

The ab-gadget: also gawk-worthy.  It is, essentially a swing, however instead of swinging forward and back, you are in a rather undignified "on all fours" position, holding onto handles at chest-level, and swinging your posterior about, side to side, along a sort of circular track.  I wonder "can this thing possibly work?  It seems as though most of the effort is not your own once gravity brings you back down and swinging around to the other side." The shopping channel shows infrared-syle videos of hot muscles that must be working hard, since they are bright red in the 'desired shaping areas'.  My next thought was "Where the hell would one keep one of these things?"  The shopping channel attempts to show me I could fold it and place it, for example, under my couch.  Next thought: "And it probably makes some horrible squeaking noise as it's being used."  Aha!  I imagine some poor soul, sneaking this device out from under their couch, making sure nobody is around, and climbing onto the device, into their undignified, butt-swinging, machine squeaking frenzy of bodywork and desperation.  Oh, it's an interesting vision, and I am oddly entertained.

Next up as I'm finishing my second cup of coffee and last bits of morning-digital-business is Zumba.  A fitness routine on DVD designed by a choreographer.  The dvds come with hand-weight/maracas that you can use as you go through learning a series of latin-dance and hip-hop inspired sequences.  I am actually drawn to this in a strange way, considering that dance is something I consider interesting but foreign.

I don't believe I've ever seen my parents dance, unless you count my father finally moved by liquid courage, drunkenly and joyfully dancing with tie-around-head at weddings.  As a child I never really thought I was the most graceful girl, and being more of a tomboy took zero natural interest in tap, jazz, or ballet lessons.  I have never really taken the time in life to learn any style of dance, other than liquid, which I picked up during the period of my life where clandestine warehouses filled with trance, hardcore, and drum & bass served as the counterpoints to my series of promotions, office attire, and management style.  I'm actually good at liquid-dancing, but I also realize that there is limited place for this style of dance outside of the places it 'comes from'.  Not something that fits in a lot of places.  Not even while drunk at a wedding.  Especially not.

While there has been talk in this house about learning to tango or salsa, there are no concrete plans.  Zumba assures me that it can teach me, step by step, to shake my hips in fine latin style, all while granting me enough privacy to discover whether I am ok, or very bad minus the pain of watching strangers.  There is no equipment but me, (and I suppose the maracas if I'm feeling festive.)  I realize that latin dance is supposed to be great for the abs and butt, and I also realize that I have accidentally eaten all the hazelnuts and almonds from the dish that was in front of me.  I mentally calculate a zillion calories and guiltily check the price of Zumba.

No, I haven't bought it.  And yes, I have turned off the television.  I'm not sure what happened to me this morning.  Something touched my brain in a way that has left me feeling dazed and mildly violated.  I'm pretty sure it wasn't anything that came out of my computer, so I'm putting it onto the bizarre home shopping channel trying to reprogram me.  You've been warned.

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