Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Bitch is Back

Today is a very happy day.

Not because it seems that Summer finally hit Chicago, after we have been enjoying an interesting and unexpected Fall since Memorial Day.

Not because I finally turned in the last set of rewrites on my new book, GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT, coming out in September of 2010. (and yes, I know that is over a year away, but I do hope you will take advantage of the intervening time to read my first four books…hint hint)

Not even because I have, for the first time in over two months, spent six consecutive nights in my own glorious bed.

But because today, my dear chickens, your Polymath returned to the miraculous world of Tivo.

You may remember that some months ago I lost my Tivo in a cable upgrade DVR disaster. If you weren’t with me for that dark time, you can read about it here.

I missed my little dancing Tivo guy, and that lovely and soothing bah-looping sound it makes when you hit the buttons, and the bright colorful screens…but mostly I missed the simple, intuitive, dependable functionality. I missed that it knew if I had already seen the most recent episode of Burn Notice and therefore did not record an additional four showings. I missed that it only took seconds to search for and find a show using the onscreen typepad. I missed that it could record more than 20 shows before getting full. I missed the sensitivity of the rewind and fast forward functions, and the auto jump back and the thirty-second skip, making skipping commercials a seamless delight.

On the one hand, I totally recognize the complete insanity and snobbery of being so committed to a piece of equipment that any other version just won’t do. I get that it makes me a little ridiculous, especially since it is a device designed to help me watch television, which isn’t exactly the most noble or attractive pursuit.

On the other hand, I am a creature of loyalty. I have had the same hairdresser since 1992. I have had the same manicurist since 1998. I’ve lived in the same apartment since 1994. I’ve purchased a series of five Honda Accord Sedans in a row since college, and while I switched up colors and was delighted to upgrade to the Hybrid version, it never occurred to me to research a different make or model.

Probably the best story to explain this devotion quirk I have revolves around something as innocuous as paper napkins.

My whole life my mom has stocked the house with Vanity Fair brand paper napkins, both the dinner and cocktail size. I literally cannot remember another paper napkin ever entering the house, with the exception of the napkins you buy for kids’ birthday parties that follow whatever the theme of the party happens to be.

One day I was in the grocery store with my ex-husband (and yes, that is ex, because I may be loyal, but not to a fault, and sometimes you do have to alter your commitments) and he looked at the list and reminded me that we needed paper napkins.

I went to the paper goods aisle, and alas, there were no Vanity Fair napkins to be found. I returned to him three aisles over.

“Where are the napkins?” He asked, looking at my empty hands.

“They didn’t have any.”

He looked deeply perplexed. “What do you mean they didn’t have any?”

I wondered what alternative meaning he might have derived from my previous sentence. I tried again. Slower. “They were all out of napkins. I’ll have to pick some up this week at a different store.” That should do it.

He was undeterred. “I cannot believe that they are all out of paper napkins.”

Now I was annoyed. “Why on earth would I make something like that up?”

He aimed the cart in the direction of paper goods at a quick clip, positive that I was wrong and eager to prove it, and I shuffled after him, secure in my own absolute rightness.

He waved his arm down the paper goods aisle at the myriad of brands, sizes, shapes, patterns and colors of the paper napkins which resided there in endless row upon row of lip blotting, hand wiping, pants saving papery goodness. He looked at me as if I had clearly lost my ever loving mind.

I, being somewhat smug in my correctness, pointed sharply at the one gaping hole in the wall of napkins, labeled clearly, Vanity Fair.

“See. They’re all out.” Duh, big red truck.

“Well, yeah, of THAT BRAND. Just get different ones!”

He has got to be kidding. “But we use Vanity Fair.”

“Well, they don’t have any.”


“So we’ll get other ones.”

“Um, no. I’ll just get some later this week.”


“Because those are the ones we use.”

“But WHY?”

And I couldn’t say. Because I don’t really know, other than those are the ones we always used, they are a good size and weight and they don’t disintegrate unless ribs are involved, and they are clean and white with no ugly patterns, and they don’t make your hands and lips all linty when you use them, and THEY ARE THE ONES WE USE and to get anything else is just not done.

We then broke down into hysterical laughter, scaring the crap out of the other people in the store, howling like banshees at the ridiculousness of it all. But as funny as I knew it was, I still couldn’t put any of those other napkins in the cart, and every time he tried to convince me to do so or I tried to explain it, we just fell apart again. He eventually gave up and the next day I went to a different store and stocked up, and I just never allowed us to run out ever again.

I do recognize the irony that some nine or ten years later, I no longer have that particular husband, but I do have those particular napkins.

So you can see how it is totally in my pathology, after a decade of Tivo and the little dancing guy and bah-looping, why it might throw me into chaos to switch to something else.

Tivo, I just couldn’t quit you.

And so, to celebrate my big cocktail win in NYC, and the prize money that came with it, your Polymath got herself a brand spanking new Tivo HD XL, which not only does all the stuff I loved in my old Tivo, but also…

Records two channels at once.
Can hold up to 150 hours of HD programs, but 1500 hours in standard def!
Allows me to watch stuff from my Netflix Instant Queue right on my TV!!
I can rent stuff from Disney and Amazon, and watch stuff from YouTube (which, by the way, has everyone seen the Sound of Music thing from the Antwerp train station, and if you have not, OMG!)

And it bah-loops. Be still my heart.

Sorry Comcast. I appreciate the service and how nice and competent your technicians have been, but your DVR sucked out loud, and I cannot tell you how happy I was to see it walk out the door today.


  1. Vanity Fair napkins rule. No other in my house either.

  2. I'm with you on the napkins. Although for the kids and because I do try to be environmentally-sound, I buy the Seventh-Generation ones. Sometimes. But never for company!

    And you have talked me into a Tivo. At long last. Yes, I truly am the last by whom the new is tried. They've been around a long time, but I've never been closer to one than this one time a group of us spent an evening drinking and watching Sandra Lee at Jen's.

    But now? I want one.

    Oh, and I've just started reading Room for Improvement. LOVE!

  3. what tivo is this? direct tv? sounds amazing. I. Must. Get.

  4. Tivo HD XL

    It is almost better than a boyfriend.