Abscesses R Us

There is not much television watching going on around here. The news, of course, is just too awful to endure and has been for about four years. I assume if something really terrible happened like if China dropped a bomb on us or if there would be a pandemic that is killing hundreds of people a day and still there are jerks around who refuse to wear a mask because it’s their deity-given, unalienable, constitutional right to be an idiot, I’d know soon enough. No offense to any network bigwigs here, but television is mostly pretty bad. We have a bunch of reality shows because reality shows are cheap to produce. No one I know can figure out whose reality these shows are anyway. Maybe people who are taking a little hiatus from their medication.

The second reason I don’t watch TV is that my tiny, un-smart television gets its less-than-booming signal from an antenna. That’s right. I have a woefully inadequate tower sticking up by my house that has some goofy coat hanger-looking apparatus at the top and this is what I use to try to snag the stray television signal that passes by here on its way to the North Pole. My daddy raised frugal daughters and we all refuse to pay some heartless, ever rate-increasing company to supply one hundred eighty channels, none of which have anything on. My antenna snares reruns of shows from the seventies and eighties. Or maybe these are original broadcasts and my antenna is just now unscrambling the signal for them. In either case, these shows highlight the good ol’ days, back when we had racism and misogyny and xenophobia but nobody mentioned it.

A friend of mine has a TV. And how. This thing is huge, the very centerpiece of his living room. It would be the centerpiece of any room in any house, up to and including the Taj Mahal, even though the Taj Mahal is technically a tomb, not a house, but you get my drift. He doesn’t get one hundred eighty channels. He gets two hundred eighty channels. Two hundred of them feature one of two things. The first is professional golfers, around whom it is required to speak in hushed, reverent tones as though you were in the Taj Mahal. The other is professional fishermen and yes, there is such a thing. The fishermen do not speak in hushed, reverent tones. They whoop and holler and say “Woo-ee” a great deal and they yank hapless bass out of some rapidly-depleting lake. Then they hold the bass up to the on-boat cameraman and yes, there is such a thing. The fisherman estimates the bass weighs four pounds and then he puts the fish back in the lake. If he keeps catching fish, he drives the boat by use of the front motor in small circles with his foot. If he does not keep catching fish, he powers up the enormous motor on the rear of his sparkly boat and zooms across the lake at Mach 2, muttering to himself. And the cameraman. And the on-boat judge and yes, there is such a thing.

An alarming percentage of the other eighty channels deal with unpleasant bodily secretions, specifically (brace yourselves) pus, arising from animals. (Medical people are supposed to call pus “purulent material” but it’s still pus.) Veterinarians are very hot right now on television. It’s about time they got a little glory because sometimes these magnificently trained and highly intelligent people work knee-deep in what the rest of us would call poop. Sure, they have boots and coveralls and those truly creepy shoulder-length plastic gloves, but a barn is not always a tidy place and usually, there is severe poop-age. There are a couple of human doctors (doctors for humans, I mean) on TV, too, like Dr. Pimple Popper. This is a real show about another magnificently trained and highly intelligent person who wisely chose dermatology for the hours and stayed for the pimples. I don’t think Pimple Popper is her real name.

It doesn’t take too many episodes of “Pop Goes the Vet” for you to get the picture of what the vet is popping. One vet lanced an abscess that appeared to comprise about ninety percent of the cow’s mass. It drained right on top of the poop which didn’t help any, but the veterinarian was moved to tell us the drainage looked like pudding, an analogy that ought to have a negative impact on the makers of Jell-O. Thank goodness the TV doesn’t have a scratch n’ sniff feature. The effect of seeing all this purulence (it’s still pus) on a larger-than-life screen is fascinating in the same sense a train wreck is fascinating. You know you should look away but can’t seem to avert your eyes from the carnage. It’s pretty gross but it’s still better than watching the news.