I was on the elliptical last night at the gym, staring blankly at the row of TVs in front of me while contemplating the vast amount of lard I’d consumed over the previous two weeks. I am so gross, I thought. I will never be able to work this weight off. I’ll be clinically obese by the time I’m 30. I watched the machine’s screen indicate the rise and fall of my heart rate and attempted to flex my stomach muscles while pumping my feet up and down, as a trainer once instructed me to do. I also flexed my butt, hoping this would lead to a visible difference.
There were two TVs directly in front of me. The TV on the right was tuned to Bravo for The Real Housewives of Orange County. The TV on the left was on CNN, which was covering the carnage that occurred on the Gaza Strip yesterday. For nearly half an hour, I was trapped in front of these dueling messages; to the left, grisly footage of dead children and bloody sidewalks; to the right, a gaggle of wealthy, surgically constructed blonde women engaged in a vicious argument over who gets to wear the hot pink hat to the horse racing track. “Hat shopping was grueling,” one bemoans to the camera. “Gretchen gets whatever she wants.”
Watching these two screens, something broke in me. I’m not sure what it was. I mean, aside from the too-obvious contrast between the two. I don’t intend this as some lame platitude against the shallow materialism of the Housewives series, since obviously that’s their entire raison d’etre, and the women play it up for the cameras. Furthermore, I was almost kinda thankful for the housewives in that moment. While my knee-jerk response was to condemn their privileged oblivion, I gradually changed my mind. I’m thankful for the levity they provide in world where grown adults think it’s reasonable to bomb a grade school.
I don’t have, like, a final thought to close with. It was just a moment that stayed with me, so I thought I’d share it.
This post originally appeared on The Sassmouth Chronicles on January 7, 2009.