television is educational
The question is: what is it teaching?”
happens when in the
course of a month I read/watch Jane
explosion of celebrity adultery coverage, I make TLC my default TV
channel, and I feel like my personal life is being invaded? All
while still nursing an over a decade long crush on the Lovely One...
who I happen to think would make an absolutely wonderful professor,
vastly preferable to my own Media Studies prof? This
happens. Enjoy! Or, if not, wait til two weeks from now
when I will hopefully produce something slightly less whiny.
Although... if you enjoy cheesy sci-fi films you might want to wade
through the whining til you get to the end of this story. ;-)
And now... another "Moment with
Watches a Bunch of TV
Angels work on a need-to-know basis. That was a fact that
Andrew had never questioned and had always known. He might find
himself standing outside a hospital, second-guessing the location of
the superior vena cava. But the minute he walked in and
introduced himself as the visiting heart surgeon, he could perform
triple bypass with relative ease. As a lawyer he could quote
precedents that a week before might have been completely foreign to
him. Because of those assignments and so many others, Andrew had
assumed that upon being given the task of leading a college class
entitled "You and the Media" he would be granted
endless knowledge about movies, TV shows, music, and more. And he
had found himself possessing a greater than usual number of facts about
history of each. But as he flipped through
the agendas left by the regular professor, the angel of death realized
he didn't have a clue on how to discuss the present media.
There weren't any TV shows he watched, generally the only movies he saw
were the ones the Dyelanders showed him, and while he tried to keep up
to date with music he knew his knowledge there was lacking. He
considered plopping down in front of a TV and cramming as much viewing
in as he could in the next forty eight hours. But the prospect
of sitting alone in a strange apartment in the light of a television
wasn't very appealing to him. He
implored the Father for help, gently suggesting that the need-to-know
basis hadn't been completely passed along to him.
He smiled, shaking his head and laughing as he did, when the answer
came. For once, Andrew's preparation for an assignment seemed as
much about *who* he knew as what he needed to know. A moment
later the apartment that would be his home for the duration of the
assignment was empty. The angel
was on his way to a far more familiar, beloved locale.
"I really need you to watch TV with
me, please. For a few hours. If you could." Andrew
held a (decaf) frozen chai out to JenniAnn.
A simpering JenniAnn crossed her arms over her chest and suspiciously
angel of death on her door step. "Because you've decided that
nothing would make you happier today than to get irritated and kill
some brain cells? That's some awesome multi-tasking." Her
gaze traveled to the delicious drink and, not taking her eyes away from
angel of death's, she accepted it. "And you've resorted to
Andrew sighed dramatically and began fiddling with his pocket watch,
down at it. "Well... if you don't think it's a good idea
then I'll just go on back to my tiny, lonely apartment near the campus
I'm working at and watch all by lonesome... and you can think about me
being there... alone... as you drink your chai..." Grinning, he
back up at his friend.
JenniAnn laughed at his charade and ushered him into Willowveil
I'd really say no. Chai or no chai. But... explain.
I've never known you to
watch much TV except what you were requested, by us, to watch.
Or when there's some big news event but even then you seem to prefer
the papers. Well, and you've watched some sports stuff.
Other than that I didn't even think you liked it. But
now all of a sudden you want to
watch hours of television?"
"It's not really a matter of wanting to but needing to." Andrew
knelt down to greet Fawn and Lulu, continuing his explanation as he pet
and hugged them. "You see, I've been given this assignment as a
fill-in professor for a class called 'You and the
"Oooh..." JenniAnn perked up at the subject.
"Yeah, interesting. And usually I just know what I need to know
for an assignment. And I do. In a way. Historical,
technical, statistical knowledge. But those classes
tend to involve a lot of 'I saw this show once and...' or 'I was
watching this with my friend and she got angry because...' type of
"And I take it angels don't spend their time in Heaven watching and
dishing about TV, movies, etc.? And, further, you don't want to
be left recalling solely your friends' reactions to your depiction on Touched?" the woman asked, laughing
at the idea.
Andrew chuckled at the absurd image of himself recounting the Dyeland
ladies' enthusiastic responses to his TV self to a classroom of
strangers. "Not exactly. So the Father suggested I
talk to my friends about this."
JenniAnn's laughter continued. "It's a strange feeling... being
requested, by God via an AOD, to watch TV! But, yeah, of course
watch with you! But what about the other stuff? Ya know,
movies, music, etc.?"
"I'm planning to ask Yva to work with me on the movie part since she
always picks great films for us to watch. Then Rose seems to know
a lot about modern music and Yva can pipe in about that, too. I
think I can handle books. So
that left TV. And I remember you taking a media class in college
and just last
week you'd been talking about 'all the junk on TV' so I
"Don't say that. If I start to think my occasional
curmudgeonliness will win me an afternoon with you then I'll just have
to start acting embittered all the time," JenniAnn teased. "So,
come, let us take in hours upon hours of junk for intellectual
She led Andrew into the TV room, each of them claiming a spot
on the couch with the two dogs excitedly plopping into place with
them. And so their mission to study television began...
JenniAnn glanced at the angel of
death seated on the other side of
couch. Lulu's head was resting on his right knee, a pad of paper
the other, and he was alternately scribbling notes and eating trail mix
with his right hand. His left remained poised over the remote
she'd willingly handed over to him. If he was going to do a study
of the media, then she was going to do a study of him studying the
"What's an A-line skirt?" the angel queried as he watched an episode of
a make-over series play out. "And why do those
two people really want that woman to buy some?"
"An A-line skirt basically means that the skirt flares out at the
bottom but is smaller at the top. Like the letter A. And
it's considered very flattering. So I assume that's why they
want their victim... I mean the person they are helping... to get some
let go of her yoga pants and broomstick skirts."
Andrew smirked. "Victim, Laja?"
"Well... I mean these shows are decent to a point. I've watched
before when they've really helped people. Like, I'm sorry, but if
you're wearing a bedazzled baby tee reading 'Hot Stuff' then you probly
do need a talking to. So there's that and then they've aided
ladies with bad body image issues who
hid behind their clothes. But not everyone who wears baggy,
flowy clothes does it cause they're down on themselves. Maybe
they just happen to like the flowyness and the softness and the
color. Sometimes a particular style might look better, but it
might not really express the person, ya know? And you can't
cocoon a dog in an A-line skirt." JenniAnn smiled at Fawn
who had made something akin to a hammock for herself out of her owner's
The angel looked fondly at his friend. As unknowledgeable as he
was about fashion, he did recognize that she was wearing a
broomstick skirt. And Fawn did look awfully comfortable tucked in
its myriad folds. He spoke, hoping to quell any offense JenniAnn
was taking from the show. "I think I prefer the expressive style
myself and I'd be very sorry if those two dragged you into their
consultation room and tried to get you to throw away your clothes and
wear A or B or any type of line skirts. Same with the other
ladies. I'd miss Rose's bell bottoms and Yva's Victorian accented
clothes. I may not be as attached to those items as you are to
some of my shirts... by which I mean I don't 'borrow' any of you
ladies' clothes the way my flannel shirts tend to get
'borrowed.'" Andrew smiled, proud of himself for making JenniAnn
blush when usually it worked the other way around. "But don't
think I don't notice and have sentimental attachments to your
styles. I think I'd be a little sad if you started wearing that
all the time." Andrew pointed to the fashion advisee on screen
sporting a ladies' black pinstripe suit.
His declaration of sentiment over style was rewarded with a hug from
JenniAnn. "That's from
of us." She moved away to write in her notebook. "Subject
remains intensely empathetic and observant even while watching
TV. Observer realizes she has no hope of staying objective.
Love the lovely..."
"Oh, you're taking notes, too? Can I see them when you're
done? They might help."
"Umm... We'll see."
Andrew shrugged and turned his attention back to the TV show,
"I feel ambivalent about this show. Sounds like Laja does,
too. The hosts seem helpful and
caring. But what message is it sending? What if someone
can't afford designer clothes? What if a girl just doesn't like
them? What if she doesn't want to be 'feminine and sexy'?
Or what if she thinks she already is in her own clothes and likes
them? And how would I feel if I knew my friends conspired to get
me help because they hated my clothes? I think that would be
hurtful. Am I making too much of this?" He looked to
JenniAnn. "Okay. So what message do you think is being sent
by this type of
fashion make-over show?"
JenniAnn sighed. "Conform and life will be easier for you.
Which, I think, is true. The question for me is... should it be
Andrew shook his head. "No, I don't think it should be.
Some of the greatest artists and writers were eccentric. I'd hate
to think what the world might have lost had they focused their energy
on conforming instead of creating art. Besides, some of my
closest friends are eccentrics." He smiled at JenniAnn then
tilted his head to a large photograph she'd hung of the gang on
Halloween. "Scratch that, I think all of my closest friends are
eccentrics," he teased.
"Takes one to know one," JenniAnn responded in a sing-song tone.
"Anyhow, what do *you* think being a first-timer to the world of
women's make-over shows?"
"I think I'm glad I'm a guy. And I'm a little concerned about
whether it's trying to put women into particular boxes. At the
same time, they said that lady was looking for a job so maybe some
guidance on clothes will help her?" Andrew winced as he looked
back to the screen. "Does mascara hurt? It looks
like it hurts."
Giggling, JenniAnn watched Andrew's eyes go wide as the makeup artist
on the screen came at her subject's eyes with a wide variety of brushes
and tweezers and cosmetics. "I'm allergic so it hurts me
but typically speaking, I don't think so. At least I hope
not. And, for the record, I happen to be very glad
you're a guy, too. And not just cause it means you're spared all
of that." Her own eyes widened with a sudden thought.
"Although... I know in some times and cultures it was very common for
guys to wear eye make-up for health reasons. Like kohl. So
did you?" She looked eagerly at Andrew... a little too eagerly.
"I think you're less interested in whether or not I ever wore make-up
and more interested in using my response to gage my age based on
whether or not I've used kohl. But if I say no maybe that just
means I didn't work in the places that used it even if I was alive when
they were. And if I say yes, maybe it just means I played Pharaoh
in a production of Joseph and the
Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat twenty years ago. So it
wouldn't help you, anyway. But I do think that's what you were
going for. Am I right?" Andrew cast his
friend a devilish smile. He knew he'd trapped her.
JenniAnn looked at Andrew with admiring surprise. "You've gotten
way, way too good at figuring those traps out."
Andrew smiled. "I'll admit, it was a good one. But you and
Rose both get this certain look in your eyes when you're scheming for
"Betrayed by my own eyes..."
"I'm afraid so." The angel tilted his head back to the TV where
the make-over recipient was showing off her haul. "Look, their
'victim' seems very happy."
"So she does. I'm glad for her but I think we've had just about
all of this we can
take. Unless you want to watch the next episode?"
Andrew shook his head with out hesitation.
"Good. And I think you deserve an escape to the sports channel or
Andrew nodded gratefully and changed the channel. For several
minutes he watched with interest as the sportscaster showed highlights
of several games. At times he tried to explain the finer points
of the depicted sport to JenniAnn but she only smiled politely and let
him talk, occasionally jotting notes on her paper. Or so he
thought until he caught a glimpse and saw his name written in stylized
letters with the last stroke of the "w" morphing into a heart.
JenniAnn noticed she'd been caught. "Well, it's pretty!" she
defended in response to his arched eye brow. "Watch yourself or
I'll get that tattooed somewhere, mister!" she teased.
Chuckling, Andrew shook his head. "Oh, your grandma would *love*
that. You know, if I didn't know how much you don't like needles
I might actually worr..."
"A spat of high-profile cases of infidelity haven't fully deflected
attention from him and we're left to wonder how it will impact his
game. Let's go now to our viewer poll and comments..." the voice
on the TV
stated in a tone too gleeful to be appropriate.
"Oh boy..." JenniAnn muttered, her cheeks burning. She
knew the wretched, crude direction that segment could go! And in
Andrew groaned as he scrambled for the remote
which he'd set down while he and JenniAnn joked around about her
hypothetical tattoo. His whole purpose in wanting the remote was
to keep her
from seeing anything too troubling or bothersome. Well he knew
she'd sit there and watch anything with him if she thought it served a
purpose and helped him with his assignment, even if it went against her
sensibilities. But he was drawing the line at *that*. He
relieved when he found the
controller between Lulu's chin and the cushion and could turn the
racket off. As soon as he had he began to jot notes.
"I've been bothered by the sensational aspect of the 'news' for a
while," he wrote. "But it takes on a whole different dimension
you find yourself at least semi-responsible for what someone else is
seeing and taking from it, too. How do parents do this? One
minute their kid is watching a game and the next... It's such a
skewed view of reality. And I know it affects how some people
come to think about others, I know it does!"
"Andrew?" JenniAnn waited as the angel kept writing.
"I just want to get some thoughts down."
"And if that was a pencil instead of a pen, you'd have broken the tip
by now the way you're writing. If it's something you think you
can discuss with your students... I think you can discuss it with me."
Andrew set down his pen and looked at his friend. "I just don't
want you to get upset. It's really not a big deal."
JenniAnn pointed to the paragraph on the top sheet of paper. "I'm
thinking it is if you wrote all of that."
Knowing he was caught, the angel complied. "You know what I wish
"Highlighted the good things more. Like 'This guy volunteers
weekly for Big Brothers.' 'This guy talks to his sick grandmother
every night.' 'This guy is devoted to his wife and
children.' But instead there's hours of... of that! And
eventually it starts to affect some people's psyches, making them
distrustful, bitter, angry. It just... it makes me sad."
Andrew shook his head, looking down at Lulu and running his hands
through her fur.
"Do you... feel you have to deal with the repercussions sometimes?"
JenniAnn asked, half-dreading the answer.
Andrew shrugged. "Sometimes, I guess. I mean some of
them... they watch
that junk... and I'm not downplaying adultery. You know I think
it's... well... hurtful and a betrayal and I can't imagine doing
that to another person who trusted me and loved me. Not to
the Father's clearly stated opinion on the matter. But I don't
think all the coverage helps anyone. Especially not his
family. And for others it feeds into a
cynicism that can make it awfully hard for me or any man to get through
assignments who wind up thinking I'm angling for something that I'm
definitely not angling for!"
"Poor love," his listener cooed, hugging him. "But... I can see
it all too well. I mean the pundits say things like 'he's just a
man being a man' and from so many people I hear 'typical man!' but
gosh... I hope not." JenniAnn wrinkled her nose and shook her
"I've never understood why people think generalizations and stereotypes
about some groups are okay," Andrew agreed. "They just make it
difficult for members of those groups to get a fair chance at proving
themselves. And I don't think it's new. I have a feeling
Kate... you know, that scientist I went out on a date with, had some
presumptions about me."
"Believe me, I know who Kate is! I only spent 3 years madly
envying her," JenniAnn responded with a laugh. "And I probly
would still if you hadn't come along. But I decided to take ten
years and counting of having you here in Dyeland with us over one,
solitary date as wonderful as I'm sure it was."
"Well, thanks. I'd take the ten years myself," Andrew
agreed, thankful for the smile he felt creeping back to his face.
He twirled the remote around in his hand. "I don't
know. Maybe the media doesn't have anything to do with it.
And I know there are some very hurtful, very
disrespectful, very selfish men out there. And... and I know that
there are some men who do terrible things to women." He paused
and bowed his head, trying to push away certain memories.
Blinking, JenniAnn reached for his hand.
Andrew snapped back to the present, smiling gratefully at her for a
moment before continuing.
"Don't think I
don't get very upset with them. Media or no media, their actions
are hurtful and they do make people worry about their own
situations. But I refuse to believe they're the majority.
My experiences tell me they're not the majority. But knowing
shows are airing segments like
that," the angel of death waved his hand at the darkened television, "I
can see why some people think they are." He sunk back against the
couch cushions as Lulu, Fawn, and JenniAnn all looked at him with
"I never thought anything negative about you when we met. I
trusted you. I know the others did, too," JenniAnn assured.
Andrew forced a smile, squeezed her hand, and patted the dogs'
"Thanks. But you also knew I was an angel."
"True but for what it's worth, if
you were human... I'd stake my life on your being monogamous."
Andrew truly smiled, touched by her unshakable if ungrounded
trust. "Thanks. Although I'm
not sure what you have to base that on."
"Life!" JenniAnn cried. "Sure, you're not married to anyone
but you have entered into a commitment of some sort. And since
then you've had ample opportunities to cut and run when things got
strained or even hurtful. Yet... here you sit. Ten years
later. And you've also had opportunity to be disrespectful.
Sure, not in some glaring way that would end with you being sent...
away." JenniAnn shivered at the idea of Andrew in a barren,
chilly no man's land. "But in small ways. You've never used
our affection for you to get us to do or not do anything that might
hold us back even if it would make things less worrisome for you.
Because I think it's outright impossible for you to
without thinking of the repercussions for everyone else."
The angel blushed. "Maybe it's just impossible for me to turn my
back on love and friendship when I've found it."
JenniAnn wiped her sleeve across her eyes. "Crikey." She
picked up her notebook and began to write. "Perhaps subject
should have his own show... again and for real this time.
Certainly makes me have a
better outlook on life. Also, am dropping 'subject.' Too
formal and scientific for Andrew."
"Crikey good or crikey bad?" Andrew checked.
"Crikey 'this guy will turn a compliment directed at himself into
completely sweet and modest.'"
Andrew smiled. "You ladies do all help, you know. Your
trust and friendship mean a lot to me. And they give me hope that
I will get through to wary assignments. And so does your
willingness to spend time with me even if that means watching me get
whiny about TV."
"You say that as if it's a sacrifice. I happen to find you very
cute when you're whiny," JenniAnn protested with a grin. She
glanced at his notebook. "I spose we better get back to that...
although maybe we should go back to the make-over channel.
seems better than gossip just now."
"I agree!" Andrew turned the TV back on and promptly returned it
previous channel. He took a moment to make a note for
himself. "Even bad TV can be a source for good discussion," he
wrote. "Especially with a friend. It makes me wonder what's
been lost in the shift away from viewing shows as a family to people
watching programs alone on their computers. Maybe I never liked
TV before because I didn't have anyone to watch and discuss it
with? If this is any example, I think it'll be great to go over
music and movies with Rose and Yva."
Setting down his pen, Andrew looked up to see the make-over show had
ended and given way to another program. "How
do you feel
about a wedding show?" he asked as a woman on screen sashayed
through a dressing room in a white gown.
Shrugging, JenniAnn agreed. "Could be fun. Let's give it a
The two sat and watched the program, JenniAnn enthralled and
Andrew spooked. He began to write in his notebook again.
"Weddings seem to be a contest of some kind here. There are a
handful of women and they go to each other's weddings and critique
them. Like a matrimonial Olympics. Why? Do they know
each other?" He glanced back
at the screen, his eye brows arching. "What are those
two people doing on that dance floor??? There's a child present!"
he scrawled into his notebook. "But mostly I'm confused by the
idea of a wedding as a competition. It makes me sad."
JenniAnn was writing, as well. "Eeek! Did NOT need to see
that whilst watching TV with an angel... never need to see that, come
to think of it. Andrew dances so much more nicely..." Once
out of her brief day dream, she looked over at the frenzied
angel. "You're writing very furiously again."
"Oh, I just..." Andrew tilted his head as he continued to watch
show. "This just seems kind of, I don't know...
mean-spirited? Weddings are about bringing family and friends
together to witness two people who love each other embark on a new life
together. But suddenly there's a chorus complaining about linen
colors and the ice sculpture's design and rating them?"
"Yeah... I'll admit I've watched this before. We'll chalk
it up to my fascination with multi-colored linens, dresses, and floral
the competitive aspect... not that I wanna get married but if I were I
think I'd want to spend that day thanking God and being blissfully in
love with my husband... not worrying over what a team of judges
"Speaking of the husband... where is he?"
"Ha! The great mystery of wedding television! He typically
only makes a token appearance at the end of the show. Otherwise
it's all about the bride. Not in all shows... but many. I
mean I guess in a way it's good."
Andrew looked curiously at JenniAnn. "How's that?"
"In a world where privacy is lessening and people's marital and
relationship problems are splashed every where, as witnessed earlier,"
JenniAnn wrinkled her nose once again, "maybe it's best to
focus on the surface things and leave the actual bond between the
couple private and sacred. This show seems pretty shallow but I
really intrusive shows that follow the people's every move are
worse. Not even just with marriages. I mean... would you
want our private conversations broadcast for all to see and muse
on? Just think, there could be message boards dissecting our
pre-Valentine's Day showdown!"
Andrew thought about the content of all those conversations and the
depths of emotions they'd often betrayed. He looked
with concern at JenniAnn whose voice had taken on an agitated
"I think some times things that are said and done are so special and so
sacred, like you said, that they're best kept between the people they
involve and, of course, the Father. So, no, I wouldn't want
people prying into our conversations. God gives us beautiful,
meaningful moments together. Moments that I can promise you I'll
never forget. To put them out there to be picked apart like a
scene from a play... no thanks."
"And that's healthy, obviously. But I think many people just
don't think anything of prying these days. I mean it'd be one
thing if it was limited to those select few who volunteered to be on
such shows... who invited prying, in other words. But it seems
like the genre is knocking down barriers in general... and not in a
good way. I mean people with whom one has only a superficial
acquaintance will ask personal questions that have absolutely no
bearing on whatever your role is with them." Despite her growing
agitation, a smile flickered across JenniAnn's face when Fawn nuzzled
closer to her and Andrew
affectionately squeezed her hand.
"And now, I believe, it's your chance to unload," the angel prodded,
gently. "We can join in on the debate over the value of a plated
over a buffet line later." He muted the wedding program and gave
friend all his attention.
"Well... I dunno. Maybe it's an old problem and I'm just
misplacing blame. Or maybe it's more the informality and
weirdness of parts of the Internet than anything stemming from reality
TV. Or maybe it's just... people. I've seriously met some
who five minutes
into our introductions will tell me I've really got to start
thinking about having children. God directed us to be fruitful
and multiply, don't you know?" she mimicked.
Andrew nearly choked on the ginger ale he'd sipped.
JenniAnn looked with alarm at him. "Alright there?"
The angel nodded. "Stunned but alright. Five minutes?
And talking about... fertility? I mean I know some people are a
little too free with that topic but... five minutes?!?"
"Yep. And I just thought he... and a he at that!... was
loony. But I've seen it happen so often since. And I just
laugh it off. I'm happy. My students are my children and
for now at least I'm very content with that. But sometimes I
wonder... what if I did want to have a kid right now but
couldn't? And here are these smiling, teasing people pestering
me." JenniAnn rolled her eyes. "Prying and cluelessness are
a bad, bad combo."
Andrew grimaced. "I've been assigned to couples who were
struggling to get pregnant. Some end up driven to depression and
those comments... they hurt. Or sometimes they miscarried and
then those comments tear at them even more. Imagine desperately
wanting something and having to deal with someone who acts like you've
chosen against it or are just being wishy-washy. And I don't mean
a simple, casual comment like
'Do you plan to have kids
some day?' But it's the prying that bothers them, like you said."
"Exactly. Back when I worked in Joe's
office... I saw it happen to a girl there. I was horrified
by what some of the
other ladies said to her. And they weren't just hung up on baby
stuff cause like
when..." JenniAnn pulled herself back from a near slip.
"Well, romantic matters! I mean I know gossip has always been
with us but Catherine managed a decades long romance without too much
prying. I've sometimes wondered how much more difficult things
would have been for my cousins had they met after the dawn of the
Internet and reality TV and blogs." JenniAnn shook her head then
shrugged. "So yay for Dyeland! Huh?"
Andrew nodded. After another moment, it occurred to him that an
brought him to the district attorney's office during part of JenniAnn's
time there. He hoped that hadn't exacerbated the problem for
her. Although thinking back, a few comments he'd overheard that
had confused him at the time were becoming a little more clear.
"Have you run into it much lately? The romantic assumptions and
prying, I mean? I hope not." JenniAnn asked, seeming to read his
"Actually, I thought I was running into it less. I mean when I
worked cases with Monica, yeah, some people made assumptions,
asked questions. Now that I work alone usually, people tend not
to get too personally invested in my life... there are notable
exceptions, sure. But mostly I'm left alone. Although now
me thinking about my assignment in Joe's office..."
JenniAnn laughed. "Yeah, right after I brought that up I realized
that wasn't the wisest example to make.
Oops. Too late now. So, yes,
there was some gossip but I think knowing I was Catherine's cousin and
that Joe was rather protective... it was at a minimum. But it did
make me realize how miserably annoying the whole thing can be for some
people. We had an escape in Dyeland and image control in the
persons of Catherine and Joe."
"And we both left after a short period of time, really short for me,"
Andrew pointed out.
"Right. Which is maybe partly why I didn't
do much to counteract it myself. I mean, believe me, if anyone
insinuated something questionable about you... my responses would have
made Tess very proud."
Andrew chuckled. "Well, thanks. I think I can imagine how
those conversations went. And maybe that deflected attention away
from the girl who was trying
JenniAnn sighed. "I truly hope so. God help the
discreet introvert in
the office! And... geez... how did we get from the
ideal wedding to this?!?"
"I believe we started talking about reality TV in general. I'll
give 'the tube' one thing... it can sure fire up discussion," the angel
mused. He realized he'd neglected his notes but the conversation
seemed far more valuable.
"That it can. And primetime is gonna begin in an hour. What
fun! So I vote we grab some dinner, get these two outside," she
indicated Lulu and Fawn, "and take a break. This TV watching is
"I think that's an excellent idea. So, should we have a plated
dinner or a buffet line? Which do you think is better? And
what color tablecloth should we use? And we better use real
silver or else those ladies might come out of the TV and give us both
measly 4's for meal presentation," Andrew joked as he turned off the
stood up, and stretched.
JenniAnn laughed as she roused a dozing Fawn. "Plated, green, and
I got rid of all the real silver utensils after we had Mick and Beth
over to celebrate your pool championship and Mick tried to clear the
table." She shuddered at the memory. "I wonder if that show
would consider adding a category for vamp-friendliness?"
"Maybe you could write them and make the suggestion."
"They'd think I was one of those Twilight fans swooning over
Edward but, alas, my heart's already been quite stolen by another type
of immortal entirely. And he's much better looking and, more
importantly, much nicer."
Andrew blushed as he smiled. "'Quite stolen,' huh?"
"Quite." JenniAnn smiled beatifically at the unwitting
thief. "And quite contentedly."
Andrew hugged her. "Good. Thanks for watching with
me, Laja. It wouldn't have been as much fun on my own or as
"Aww, Andrew, there's no reason to thank me any more. Even when
the TV itself wasn't enjoyable... you were. And your opening up
to me when you didn't absolutely have to... it means a lot."
"It means a lot to feel like I can," Andrew responded, taking a moment
to thank the Father for the confidantes he'd found in Dyeland.
For her part, JenniAnn offered up a similar prayer thanking God for
Andrew's confidence in herself and their friends.
With their prayers said; the angel, woman, and their two dogs left the
room with all
thoughts of dallying celebrities, the breakdown of boundaries, and
A-line skirts left behind them and replaced with gratitude.
Upon their return to the TV room,
Andrew and JenniAnn spent three hours watching the career struggles
and romantic entanglements of a variety of doctors, lawyers, and
investigators. An hour into primetime, Fawn and Lulu snuck off to
to leave their keepers to their critiquing. Andrew
looked down at his note pad which was filled with observations as
varied as "I hope that's not really happening in hospitals... it's not
very professional" to "If only solving murder cases was always that
easy..." Guessing that no one would enjoy a media class taught by
a professor who had only complaints, he made sure to take down positive
notes, too. "Good to see the diversity of characters
TV has increased" and "Whatever else, I am glad some shows
highlight social issues that people need to be aware of," were added
JenniAnn, too, had pulled herself away from writing lyrical notes about
Andrew's eyes and pondering how often he got to wear a
uniform long enough to start another sheet of notes she felt
to him. "It's a shame that so much of TV can be crude and crass
and yet... if you look... there are still moments of stirring genius
and glimpses into the resiliency of humanity," she'd jotted down for
When the last primetime credit rolled at 9:59 PM, Andrew glanced at the
JenniAnn had given him with the listings. At the late hour, he
wanted to be sure his channel-surfing didn't land them any where
questionable. He smiled when he noticed one program in particular
and clicked over to it.
JenniAnn immediately looked up. "Jane Eyre! And I love
this mini-series adaption of it! Although... you could make
mention of this: in the
book Jane is plain and Mr. Rochester isn't very attractive at
all. And yet... look at them!" She waved to the
screen. "She's adorable and he's super hot. Surely that
Andrew burst into laughter. "You want me to announce to my
students that the televised version of Rochester is 'super hot'?
I don't think I've ever heard you use that phrase."
His friend shrugged, giggling. "The men of my acquaintance just
seem more suitably described as 'lovely' and 'luscious,' I
suppose. Although I could quite happily and truthfully substitute
in the other if you'd prefer."
Andrew blushed. "I'm okay with maintaining the status quo."
"Good. I prefer it myself." JenniAnn grinned at him then
turned back to the TV.
She sighed dreamily, knowing that in another moment Rochester would be
"What's wrong with this guy?" Andrew wrote. "He's trying to make
Jane think she'll be sent away so he can push her emotionally then
gauge her reaction in order to determine if it's safe to speak up about
his love. Why not just tell her and risk being hurt? At
least it would spare her feelings."
Unbeknownst to Andrew, JenniAnn was jotting her own reflections about
the moody Brit in her private notes. "Mr. Rochester is one of
my favorite book characters... of males, at least. And I think
it's cause I sometimes glimpse Andrew in him at odd moments. But
not here. Andrew would make his feelings known and risk having
them trampled upon rather than put anyone to the test."
"I've never really understood why so many women like Mr. Rochester,"
Andrew confessed after finishing his written observations. "I
seems... kind of manipulative."
"He's not perfect. That's definitely for sure. But he
recognizes that and works towards bettering himself, eventually turning
towards God. And he does, in a big way, learn to sacrifice his
good for someone else. And I like
that. And I like that for all his bravado... he has a modest
soul. Of course, it probly vexed Jane at the end to have to
stress to him, when he felt decrepit and cast-out, that she loved him
still... always had and always would." For a moment JenniAnn felt
herself going back several months to a dirty, damp alley where she and
Rose had found Andrew.
"I'm sure he regretted the pain he caused her in doubting her affection
for him," Andrew murmured, interrupting his friend's troubled
recollections. He knew that her last words had been as much about
them as the Bronte twosome. After a reassuring smile from her,
Andrew turned to his notebook. "Maybe this is one of media's
greatest strengths: to remind us that we're not alone in our
experiences. And maybe simply to remind us of them and what we
learned from them."
Calmed, JenniAnn continued. "Anyhow, even though I relate more to
Jane... some of the
things Mr. Rochester says sound like my own inner voice."
Perfectly timed, Mr. Rochester piped up with his views on his bond to
the governess beside him. "When we are parted... when you leave
me... I believe that bond will snap. And I will bleed, inwardly."
Andrew looked at the woman beside him in alarm.
"Well, perhaps I wouldn't put it so violently," she demurred.
"Maybe I would have said it more like... 'When we are parted... when
you leave me... I believe that bond will snap. And I will be
weepy which will make my make-up bleed and probly all over whichever of
your shirts I've managed to steal most recently. So, uh, just
don't ever leave permanently.'"
Andrew laughed with relief. "I'm still not happy about you being
weepy but I will take it over internal bleeding so thank you, Laja, for
the rewrite." After bestowing a bemused smile on her, he looked
the on-screen couple. "She's only supposed to be 18, isn't
she? How old is he?"
"I can't remember exactly. Upper thirties, early forties or so."
"That's a pretty big difference."
"But the point is that they're emotionally, spiritually, intellectually
matched. And, besides, I happen to know that sometimes
relationships work out just fine even if the fellow is far, far
and not just in romances." JenniAnn cast a sly look at Andrew.
the angel responded, amused by the unspoken comparison.
They watched, each jotting notes until it came time for Jane to leave
Rochester behind. Andrew noticed JenniAnn begin to sulk and
handed her the remote. "You can change if you want."
JenniAnn happily pounced on the offer and turned to a different
station. "We've not caught any sci-fi. You really should
include it. Ya know sci-fi stuff often explores culture clashes
and societal mores and stuff like that so..." She laughed,
noticing the old, cheesy movie that was on. "Okay, and sometimes
it's just stupid. But fun! We can watch and make fun of
this... this... 'Attack of the Killer Frog People from Planet Z,' she
finished, looking at the listings. "Right up my alley! Frog
In her glee, JenniAnn was completely oblivious to a flinch from Andrew
at her mention of the title. He watched the screen, aghast, for
several moments before turning to the girl seated next to him.
"Laja, it's late. Maybe I
should let you go to bed."
"It's not even 11:00. Andrew, they're just about to show the
War-like Frog Queen! You can't deprive me of that!"
"Earlier you were concerned about me killing my brain cells but, Laja,
trust me... yours are seriously in danger. I've seen this
movie. It's beyond bad. And it is a movie, by the
way. We were going to focus on TV, remember?" the angel of death
"It's a movie on TV. It counts."
"But it's really stupid. Laja, the stupidity might give you
nightmares and I don't want that on my conscience," Andrew continued as
the movie made a rocky transition into
regal a looking court as black and white cardboard sets could
provide. He looked over at JenniAnn, pleadingly, but she was
completely oblivious. In fact, she seemed oddly entranced upon
glimpsing a close up of two frog-men royal guards chatting. "Uh
oh," he scrawled onto his note pad. He turned back to his friend,
gently shaking her shoulder. "Laja, earth to Laja."
JenniAnn roused and blushed. "Sorry. Craziest thing.
All of a
sudden I just found myself completely focused on that Frog People guard
guy in the upper left corner of the screen there. The one on the
Opting against a response, Andrew sunk back further into the couch
"Ha! That actor must be a bit of a nervous fellow. Did you
see his right pad just go up to his froggy cranium? In real life
he must have
run his hand through his hair like..." JenniAnn glanced over at
Andrew. His right hand was rifling through his hair. "You,"
she finished. She looked from the frog man on the screen to
Andrew and back and forth again. Suddenly her unfounded
fascination with a character she could only assume was named Frog Guard
#2 was beginning to make sense. "You?" she echoed questioningly.
Andrew cringed. "Ribbit."
JenniAnn dissolved into giggles and enthusiastically embraced the
embarrassed angel. "Aww, Andrew, don't make that look! I
think it's great that you were in some B... or maybe C... movie!
And... well, just think of it this way: my reaction is clearly a
testament to the awesomeness of your eyes. They still make me
swoony even in black and white and when surrounded by gobs of cake
make-up. So... what were you doing... oooh." She pulled
away from Andrew just enough to glimpse Frog-Andrew as he
began to duel with an over-sized squid-like person.
Seeing her delight, the angel of death began to overcome his horror at
his Hollywood past being revealed to JenniAnn.
"So what were you doing there?" she asked, once assured that
Andrew pointed to his fellow guard. "Helping him comes to terms
with a death in his family."
"Oh..." JenniAnn looked sympathetically at the other frog-man.
"I think so. As much as a person can. After I left he
stopped acting and became a
pastor. It gave him more time with his family which he realized
more than fame or fortune." Andrew's face lit up at the
recollection. "Actually, I came to him again last
year and took him Home. He was one of those people who sing and
dance when they get Home. I love those cases. And it was
great to see him again... and
we both agreed we looked better with out the make-up."
"I've never seen that guy without it," she waved towards Andrew's
assignment. "But in your case, I definitely agree!"
They continued to watch the film's illogical and hackneyed plot
unfold. Andrew cringed many more times at its ridiculousness but
couldn't be completely annoyed when it amused JenniAnn so and reminded
him of his former assignment. When it went to commercial, she
turned to him. "So now, Professor Andrew... what do you think
about the state of television?"
Andrew smiled. "I'm thinking that TV, and maybe all of media, is
what we make of it. Sure, maybe there are some things better left
off TV and out of the newspapers and their web sites. But even
the shallow-seeming shows have their upsides. And while some
shows may have encouraged people to connect to the point of prying,
maybe with some work on mutual respect we can channel that into keeping
people from feeling isolated and unsupported. And maybe the words
whether they express themselves on TV or in movies or in books, can
help us to express our own feelings and concerns. And even
terrible old movies can make a person reflect on how far we've come...
both in special effects and personally." He laughed and shook his
head as "Killer Frog People" returned from its break. "And so
what are you thinking, Laja?"
JenniAnn beamed at him. "I'm thinking I agree very
much. And... I think I know how I knew that was
you." She inclined her head towards the TV.
"I wondered about that... I thought maybe it was a little divine
inspiration or something," the angel mused.
"Maybe. But if it was then I know the means by which God made me
recognize you. It was the way your eyes light up when you're
talking about an
assignment or even talking to an assignment as you were in the
movie. It makes me feel good to know that in fifty or sixty years
that light hasn't dimmed or changed." JenniAnn looked up at those
very eyes and smiled lovingly.
The angel of death hugged his friend. Over JenniAnn's head,
Andrew watched his younger self
on the screen: the self who had viewed himself as a loner and an
outsider, to some extent. He didn't regard himself as either any
more. His friends had repeatedly proven they would be there for
him even during the bad times. And if JenniAnn's continued
presence in the TV room was any hint, he also knew they'd be around
during the incredibly stupid times. Ten years in, they'd left him
with memories of so many wonderful times, too. So it was without
any reservation that Andrew could make his friend a promise. "That
light won't change or dim, Laja.
Not ever. I have too much to be grateful for to let it." At
that, the angel lifted his eyes and once again expressed his gratitude
to his Creator.
Notes: The Jane Eyre quote, though
very close to what Mr. Rochester says in the book by Charlotte Bronte,
is from the 2006 mini-series written by Sandy Welch and directed by
(Photo Credits: The
on this page are from "Touched by
an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon
Water Productions. They are not being used to seek profit.)