In an episode of "Friends" called "The One Where Old Yeller Dies," Phoebe learns that her mother used to prematurely turn off classic movies to spare Phoebe's feelings. She thought "Old Yeller" was a fun family film until her friends show her the ending.
Why, Travis?! Why?
Over the next few days, Phoebe immerses herself in film re-education, watching all her favorite flicks to their true finale — "Brian's Song," "A Love Story," "Terms of Endearment" — each viewing further confirming her life was lies. All lies!
At least when it came to entertainment.
Lately, my husband and I have been (reluctantly) participating in a similar ritual of incomplete viewing. Past the series pilot, we rarely watch shows together anymore. Rather, in a pathetic attempt to complete a season, we take viewing turns and fill the other one in. While one spouse works, sleeps or tends to chores and children, the other takes one for the team and engages in 30 minutes to an hour of hilarity and/or deeply depressing and masterful storytelling. The next week, we trade posts.
In the beginning, I was kind and considerate while filling my husband in on what he had missed.
"You're going to need to sit down for this, babe. Last night on 'Game of Thrones,' there was something called the Red Wedding."
I told it to him straight, with honesty and care.
And then I saw a rerun of the "Friends" episode, and I thought, "I want to do that!" Not as a trick to play on my children. Oh, no, that would be cruel. Also, who shows her young child any part of "Terms of Endearment" anyway? But as something to do to spice up my husband's and my boob tube life.
Bearing the weight of adequately explaining the missed engagements, divorces, births of children and unexpected deaths of our favorite characters became a chore. And if I was viewing the show, that meant by default that this was my night free of chores! Something had to change. I was going to take a page from Phoebe's mom's book and put my own little warped spin on it.
So over time, filling my husband in on the episode he had missed became a little less ... factual.
"So this Red Wedding was between Daenerys and Tyrion after they met for the first time in a tomato field. I know! Most unexpected relationship ever! I'm so jealous you get to watch all the honeymoon scenes in the next episode. Prepare yourself for romance!"
"Last night on 'The Voice,' every judge turned around to sign a mute. It was incredible. Their backs were turned, and only the background music was playing, but somehow they knew that person had star potential."
"It was revealed on 'The Big Bang Theory' that Sheldon actually is an android created by Howard Wolowitz. And the reason Wolowitz programmed Sheldon to continually mock his pathetic master's degree is to demonstrate Wolowitz's own personal failings at being able to engineer an android that can seamlessly fit in to modern culture, as obviously Sheldon cannot."
"I really love how kids shows are encouraging openness and kindness toward everyone. On 'My Little Pony,' half the horses went through equine reassignment surgery and ended the episode as donkeys. Still magical, of course."
Sometimes my husband falls for my faux episode hook, line and sinker. Most often, he knows I'm bluffing. But you can tell, more frequently than he would ever admit, there is a small nagging curiosity about whether I'm telling the truth, even after he's dismissed my episode breakdown as boloney. And those times are my favorite, when he's just not quite sure what to expect. Maybe Sheldon really is an android.
Sure, my fabricated episodes may seem to defeat the point of my filling him in, but think about the shock and horror my husband experienced tuning in to "Game of Thrones" expecting the most unexpected of romances and instead receiving the bloody carnage of the largest matrimonial mass murder ever to hit the small screen. He still gets to experience every extraordinary emotion and surprise we did, only it's a week (and an episode) later.
It's the same (hilarious) shock and horror Phoebe experiences when she learns "E.T. leaves! Rocky loses! Charlotte dies!"
Now, would my husband still be shocked if I simply abstained from filling him in on what he missed in the previous episode?
Of course. But where's the fun in that?
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.