Around the dial with my father-in-law

Mrs. Puff, exact age unknown

The next time you think your job is tough, imagine trying to explain to a 78 year-old Greek man why CNN is breaking into regular programming to cover Justin Beiber’s arraignment. Here’s a tip: You have to start by explaining who in the hell Justin Bieber actually is. Set aside 20-25 minutes for that step alone.

My father-in-law is a retired autoworker. He’s spent the better part of his life working with his hands and throughout his retirement, he’s probably spent more of his waking hours outside working in the yard and tinkering on machines and appliances than sitting around in the house. He does pick up Reader’s Digest or the Sunday paper now and again, but he’s not big on reading books or doing puzzles. Television is probably his least favorite pastime of all and American TV shows (as opposed to the Greek channels we get via satellite) garner a special brand of contempt from him. Whether it’s news, sitcoms or commercials, my father-in-law has little tolerance for what he sees as a non-stop parade of ridiculousness and he makes his opinions well-known to anyone who is within earshot when the TV is on.

Here’s a sample of some of his recent comments while watching the boob tube:

 “Boy…when she got skinny, she got ugly.”
— watching a commercial for a weight loss program

“He looks like an idiot and she talks like an idiot.”
— reacting to some footage from a celebrity interview

“Let’s see how many people this guy is going to poison.”
— right after tuning into an infomercial for a turkey deep fryer

“You boob! You don’t know anything!”
— directed at Alex Trebek during a Colonial Penn commercial

“I would guess she is 32 to 35 years of age.”
— said in regard to SpongeBob’s boating school instructor, Mrs. Puff

“South America.”
— replying to a car commercial that begins with the rhetorical question “Is there anything more American than America?”

We still have six weeks of winter to go, so it’s a safe bet that we’ll be watching a lot more TV together in the near future…

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