Watching TV in the ’70s

I can’t remember exactly when we got our first
television set, a black and white console
in a sliding cabinet on spindly legs designed
to blend in with the living room furniture—

It must have been sometime in ’75, in time
for the “Thrilla in Manila,” or the ’74
Ms. Universe pageant which Bob Barker hosted
and which a Spanish girl named Amparo won—

But I know we did not have it in ’66 when the Beatles
snubbed Imelda and were harassed by an angry mob
all the way to the airport. And in ’69 the neighbors
invited us over to watch the Apollo moon landing,

after which lunch was served, but I wanted to know
most of all where the bathroom was. We were among
the last on our street to get one, but the novelty
never quite wore off— Waiting for the jeepney

that would take me to school after breakfast,
I watched wire cleaner antennae rise up and down
from behind Ray Walston’s bumpy head in reruns
of “My Favorite Martian;” and when I returned

in the afternoon, there was “Darna,” “The Three
Stooges,” or pre-war Tagalog romances where
beautiful women with marcelled hair let men in suits
and two-tone shoes light their cigarettes— And we

had no idea the scene from “Singing in the Rain”
had black umbrellas and yellow raincoats,
but my father pronounced everything dashing
and debonair. And he most of all stayed up

to watch the “Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson; he sat
in his old bathrobe on an ottoman pulled up to the screen,
glued to “M.A.S.H.” or “I Love Lucy” or Bob Hope specials,
chuckling despite canned laughter and broadcast delays.

 

In response to Via Negativa: The Seafarer.

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