Clouds In The Head


Reality TV is only “half distended” (and pre-travel is pre-gnancy)
26 March, 2014, 8:42 am
Filed under: travel versus unravel

I was watching TV last night, which some of you know we can’t do any more since Paul Keating made us go to digital, anyway, I was killing time at the in-laws and  catching up on shows called My Kitchen Rules, Resurrection, The Block, Foreign Correspondent, the news and a truly magnificent one called The Biggest Loser, when I realised that there’s a term I don’t know.

I know the concept: it’s all that padding and filler that reality TV hosts and directors and editors use to make a ten second moment turn into half an hour. How do you feel about evicting someone? How do you feel about being evicted? Who are you thinking of evicting and how do you feel about that? It’s a delaying tactic, clearly, a bloating of the insides of the cells of time. I’m sure there’s a hip cute word for it, but I don’t know what it is.

I’m going to call it “distension”. You know, a distended unhealthy tummy like on a starving child. A distended lump of garden hose where the side has weakened. I was going to call it tumescence but that’s too sexy. Or oedema but that’s not chunky enough. No, it’s distension. Temporal distension to be specific. (One thing I like about the term is that the TV people are trying to raise tension, and it works for a while but then you get sick of it and just wish they’d lance the bloody boil and tell us who’s being evicted so we can find out how everyone feels about it and then watch the next program.)

Travel is pregnancy

I found myself musing that the countdown to actually leaving on a trip is a bit of distension. It turns into this great delay, this wait, this “oh there are so many things to do” time. If you go OS a lot, you probably have systems etc. But for us, rare travellers, it’s a strange build of excitement and fear and tasks.

I was wondering where I’d felt this before. This massive amount of planning, this “it’s still weeks away” feeling, this OMG it’s just around the corner, this “come on, I’m ready” sensation.

It was when we had our first baby, nearly 16 years ago. We didn’t know what we were doing. The creature didn’t have a gender, personality, identity, “tone”, or even reflexes or eyes that worked. There was advice everywhere, books to read, things to set up, stuff to buy, bookings to make. We knew it was important, a “one-shot” chance at success with each baby or trip. We tried to be careful and sensible (how many ultrasounds should we have, when’s the best time to buy US Dollars). Then Donna was overdue and we were getting sick of it. Exactly the same way I grew sick of waiting to find out if Kerry or Roger was going to be kicked off Loser. Sooo sick of it. Time, like my love’s belly, was distended and filled inconsequentially.

Photo on 26-03-14 at 9.50 AM            Photo on 26-03-14 at 9.36 AM

And then it happens. You’re on the trip, you’ve given birth. The days consist of the demands and novelties of travel or a new human life. Responsibilities mount but very quickly so does the knowledge of what to do. You make decisions. The time before, all that prep, the single life, the getting-plenty-of-sleep, has disappeared as if it never happened. You’re a new you: the travelling you, the parent. (And don’t tell me people aren’t slightly different versions of themselves when they’re tourists!) You’re trying to fit shit in, but it’s different shit from your normal/former life. You don’t do anything perfectly but everything is amazing.

And then you shove the baby back up the clacker whence it came, fly back to Australia, update your photo albums, thank people for taking care of things while you were away, and after a couple of weeks forget it ever happened.

Which is also true of reality TV.

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