Monday, May 18, 2009


For the past four days, I've been laid up in bed with some gawd-awful illness that is not swine flu, but between its hard edge and my low tolerance threshold for feeling ill, might as well have been. I've managed to stumble back into the classroom today (I've promised two classes tests today, and I don't like disappointing the kidz), but am still hacking and wheezing and people are throwing their hands up in front of them with feigned displays of horror to ward me off whenever I come into sight. I feel so loved.

But back to being laid up in bed... . Sometimes during teacher in-service days (when the teachers are not necessarily "in-service," I've learned), spring break or summer break, David M. has a thing for turning on the noon airing of old 'Perry Mason' reruns. There is something about that sound that takes me right beck to staying home from school sick with some sort of hacking cough and fever. It starts a whole chain of remembrance: "Perry Mason' comes on; I visualize myself as a child lying sick on a sofa in the family room; I start to feel a remembrance of feeling flu-ish; the file drawers in my mind open, spilling out theme songs and sound-bites I cannot control -- 'Dialing for Dollars', 'Let's Make a Deal', 'Dark Shadows', 'Love That Bob'. I have a sound-track for childhood illness.

I may have created a sound-track for adulthood illness over the past four days, and it involves design shows on HGTV, and reruns of 'The Beverly Hillbillies', 'America's Next Top Model' and 'Say Yes to the Dress'. I could not bear to turn on 'Perry Mason', of course, because that would have just made me feel sicker, but I don't think I did myself any favors with the programs I picked. Or perhaps I did. Is it really acceptable to ever say you watch 'America's Next Top Model' other than when you're sick? I do, of course, and I'm not in the habit of apologizing for it. Why do that, when I can intellectualize it? As a colleague of mine recently noted upon her return from a conference in Norway, teevee really provides quite a rich source of data for content analysis portions of one's field research methodology. I'm an anthropologist interested in popular culture. Of course I watch bad teevee. Wanna make something of it...?

What all this teevee watching did during the course of my bed rest, however, was to make me literally sick of those shows. I've finally had enough of 'Say Yes to the Dress', or so it seems at this particular moment. I may be back in mid-season form by next Friday's new airing, and I'll even be willing to make book on it, but right now, the thought just sends me into a coughing frenzy.

It could be that, or it could be I've thought and said just about all there is to think and say about the Wedding-Industrial Complex. Surely not. Surely there is much more to go into, many more levels of analysis and interpretation with which to engage. I'm going to guess that my interest peak has been reached, rather than my stupendous brain with its stupendous powers of interpretive analysis tapping out the subject. I'm pretty much just personally done with it.

That said, it could just be that I'm now having anxiety dreams about 200 guests showing up (the house maxes out at about 75-100, and those RSVP postcards begin to look like a mighty high stack when the "# in party" spot is filled in with the number "2" or "3" or "4"), and am, consequently, so finding the idea of a small, quiet affair with one witness and presided over by an Elvis impersonator in everybody's favorite Sin City rather appealing.


Dee said...

I completely understand being personally done with the whole Wedding Industrial Complex. I'm sure there's much more to go into. Your interest in it was more from the standpoint of "can you believe this?" and also, "what do I want to do out of all that is possible?" Now that you've made up your mind, I think it's fair to turn your keen interpretive analysis and wit to some other aspect of popular culture. I, for one, am looking forward to what you come up with next!!

MisAnthropology said...

Indeed, but truth be told, my academic interest in anything has just about always started from the place of 'can you believe this?' I'm inexplicably drawn to that which initially repels me.

In this case, however, it never really could get much past 'can you believe this?'