Out With a Bang

molecule 0519Apparently I forgot to “publish” this. Sorry for the delay.

It might give you a wrong impression if I were to tell you Lynn is a Big Banger, but it feels like this is true.

I suppose it would be more accurate, but not as fun, to simply say that Lynn is a fan of the TV show The Big Bang Theory, which finished a 12-year prime-time run on CBS last night. She of course is hardly the only fan (you don’t make it 12 years off the backs of a couple viewers), but here is a true story that might give you some idea of her level of engagement:

Last night I came home from work sometime shortly after 7, and Lynn predictably was already parked on the couch in front of the TV, dinner in hand. I sat down beside her and watched until the first commercial break, then went looking for my own dinner.

We have a commercial freezer in our garage, a leftover from Lynn’s bakery days, and it is jammed full of food. I was looking for frozen chicken patties. At one point Lynn had gone through and organized the freezer, even putting a white board on the door with a little map for me: this shelf has meats, this one veggies, here are your cookies . . .

But Time Has Passed, and the map is no longer particularly accurate. So I looked on the meat shelf and the frozen potato product shelf, and didn’t find my chicken patties. This left me with two options: keep looking, or tell Lynn and let her find them.

This is how my life goes at work: I can’t find something, and in the old days Jennifer and these days Kara turns around and locates it within seconds, informing me that I was “looking like a man.” Lynn doesn’t generally use that phrase, but we repeat this same pattern at home.

So I went back downstairs and told Lynn I couldn’t find my chicken patties. “I’m pretty sure you have some,” she said, not really taking her eyes off the TV. “I’ll look for you.” She didn’t move, but the show was on, so okay. But then we got to commercials, and she still wasn’t moving. By now I was getting quite hungry, so I went back upstairs to the garage, where I put a little more effort (looking like a woman) into my search, discovering the patties a shelf below where they belong.

Trying unsuccessfully to time my efforts with commercials, because I have enjoyed watching Big Bang over the years, just not at the same level as some people, I pre-heated the oven and then put my patties in. I realized when I sat back down that I hadn’t paid attention to the clock, so I used the TV remote to put the time on the screen. Not just once, but three times over the course of the next 15 minutes.

I left the couch multiple times, to turn my patties, start my rice and get my plate. I brought my plate to the couch and started eating while the hour-long finale was still running. When it ended, Lynn finally looked at my half-eaten meal. “Oh, you found them,” she said. “I said I was going to look for them, didn’t I?”

I had been up, down, ducking under a plant, stepping over the dog, fussing with the TV, standing behind the couch, and eating right in front of Lynn — and she noticed absolutely none of it. Big Banger.

A few years back, she was in such a Big Bang fervor that she was in an on-line group that seemed to send messages at every hour of every day. (One day she said, “Wow, my phone’s been going off a lot,” and she didn’t believe me when I told her it did that every day.) She owned the books. She bought the T-shirts. She ordered the DVDs. She flew to Los Angeles to watch the taping of an episode. (My favorite souvenir from that trip was my Ellen glass — Lynn bought it because Ellen Degeneres taped in the soundstage directly across the street. I don’t watch Ellen’s show on TV, but Youtube clips from it really make me laugh.)

I get it, kind of. I mean, I totally understand TV show immersion, having been there several times, starting (and continuing — Trek forever!) with Star Trek. In the era before VCRs, I used a tape recorder to make audio recordings of Happy Days episodes. My social circle for many years revolved around a series of sci-fi series, starting with Voyager (despite the Star Trek blessing, it was not a good show), through Babylon 5 onto Stargate, through which I met Lynn.

But I never felt the tug that Big Bang put on Lynn. I think it’s a well-done show, with a lot of clever writing, but the back-and-forth of some of the romances (I’m talking about you, Leonard and Penny) were really tedious (for a number of years, even) and the general odiousness of Sheldon meant it was never going to be my favorite.

I have to say, I’ve been very surprised by how much I like the spin-off, Young Sheldon. I was expecting it to be a dreadful excuse for a show, and maybe it works best if you’re familiar with Big Bang, but I really admire the complexities of the characters. It works on an interesting angle, too: for years, we got grown-up Sheldon’s spoken view of his alcoholic, unsupportive father — he seemed rather ogre-esque.

When we get to see George Cooper in his own right, though, we can find a small-town Texas football coach completely bemused by his science-minded genius son but wanting to do what’s right for all three of his children. He may not do it correctly, but he’s trying. The one thing the show hasn’t really touched on is the alcohol that pervades his narrative on Big Bang.

Thus, it should be a “soft” landing for Lynn, since I’m assuming Young Sheldon will continue. Whether it will be as successful without Big Bang as its lead-in is hard to say. And of course, there are always the re-runs. Lynn had been getting tired of those, but perhaps without new episodes, these will become “comfort TV.” Like SpongeBob.

Or she’ll just go on to find a new TV obsession — something that speaks to her so loudly that she won’t even hear it as I’m rummaging through her freezer, trying to find food that’s right in front of me that I can’t see because I’m man-impaired.

It could happen.


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