I'm sure that you're all very nice people, but please don't be offended if I say that I'm not interested in watching your lives on a reality show.
You certainly don't want to see mine.
Like now — I'm sitting in front of the keyboard, typing. I'll do this for hours, occasionally taking a break to put in a load of laundry (it's underwear day), lift a few weights (10 pounds, three sets of eight reps this week) or walk the dog with my husband, the Norwegian Artist.
As for the Norwegian, he's out at the studio, painting, which shouldn't be tremendously surprising. It's also not a flashy demo — you know, Mick Jagger getting satisfaction from splattering paint or Tom Cruise hanging upside down from the ceiling while he dabs.
Oh, wait — I've got a message for the Norwegian Artist from the website tech. Why don't you follow me out to the studio and watch us in action?
Back again. That was exciting.
We didn't fling things, yell at one another, stomp, curse or rend our clothes. The Norwegian nodded and said, "That's good to know. I'll get on it later this morning."
I know — watched from the outside, it seems tremendously boring, but it really isn't. It's reality, our reality, the reality of two people who have been married a long time (30 years, this year), run a business together, take walks, talk, eat dinner around the family table, do the dishes, discuss our dreams and aspirations one moment and the need for new socks (white or black? crew or calf?) the next.
It looks ... ordinary, which is supposedly what reality shows capture but really don't, because if they did — even distilling one week's worth of life down to an hour — nobody would watch them because they're so ... ordinary.
But like most of what Hollywood pipes into our homes and we accept, the reality of reality shows encompass oddly dysfunctional people, hurling dishes at one another, pulling hair, histrionically acting, demanding, wailing, sobbing, emoting.
Otherwise, why would we waste valuable time watching them?
Actually, why do we waste valuable time watching them?
While I have no problem with escapism — I love a couple hours with car crashes and yachts leaping 200 feet through the air and sinister people out to blow up the world — I know that this is make-believe, allowing myself a brief indulgence in caloric-dense, nutrient-free mental sustenance.
But reality shows trick us into accepting that the make-believe is real, that Ozzie's "real" life is so much more compelling than our own, that Snooki is fun and we are not, that our ordinary lives are dismal failures, lived in quiet desperation of inconsequential and tedious ennui.
This is so untrue.
The ordinary lives of ordinary people are beautiful, honorable things — the work we do to put food on the table, the preparation of that food, the sitting around and consuming it, the laughing, talking, crying, joking, observing, doing push-ups, answering phones, replacing light bulbs, mowing lawns, plopping doggie doo in plastic bags, vacuuming, sleeping — these are what make up the bulk of many of our days, and they are good things.
Rather than sit around and watch other people either 1) do strange things to give the illusion of being extraordinarily exciting or 2) be exploited in their genuine weaknesses by sociopathic producers of pain, why don't we focus on living our honorable, beautiful, one-of-a-kind, worthy and valuable lives?
Carolyn Henderson is a freelance author and writer of the lifestyle column, Middle Aged Plague (www.MiddleAgedPlague.AreaVoices.com). Carolyn is also the manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art (www.SteveHendersonFineArt.com).