Bingeing Bad

Martha Frankel & Ira Silverman

Illustration by Mike Karpf

For someone with an addictive personality like mine, watching weekly television is as much of a delight as my first mother-in-law’s dinner parties, where it was better to pretend to be one of the servants than one of the party guests, who had to endure her endless re-telling of not-funny-the-first-time stories, including the one where she shrieked at the children so relentlessly that they hid in their closet for 18 hours, less afraid of starving than of their witch of a mother.

Waiting an entire week to know just one teeny tiny piece of the puzzle? Infuriating. This has always been so. While my friends tuned in every Thursday night to find out what happened to Dr. Richard Kimble, who was wrongly accused of killing his wife on TV’s The Fugitive, I was busy writing Ira Silverman’s name over and over and over on my denim loose-leaf cover.

IS & MF. Martha and Ira. MF and IS. Ira and Martha. Should it be an ampersand? Ira & Martha. A plus sign? Martha + Ira. Cursive? Print? Hearts with arrows? Exclamation points galore!?

By the time they caught that one-armed man, I forgot why they wanted him.

Ira, it turned out, was not obsessing over me. The longest conversation we ever had was when he chased me down the middle school hallway, shouting, “Hey Frankel. Wait up!” Frankel. That could be the nickname I had been waiting for my whole life! Frankel. When we were married, people would ask why my husband called me by my maiden name, and he would say, “I was so in love with her in Junior High that I couldn’t make myself say her first name aloud, so scared was I of rejection!” My friends would laugh, and agree that Frankel suited my personality. Everyone would call me Frankel. And then there he was, a little breathless, his shirt buttons askew. “Where’s your friend Paula?” he asked. “Tell her I want to take her out.”

The Sopranos was the first series I watched weekly, but as much as I adored Tony and crew, it was close to impossible to commit to that hour on Sunday nights. Maybe I was having the Sunday night blues, maybe I wanted to watch 8 episodes on Friday instead.

So on-demand TV seemed like an inside joke. Five years of Breaking Bad on a snowy weekend? No prob. Orange is the New Black over and over? Check.

And then came the Kobo, the independent e-reader, where I could download Looking For Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines while still mid-The Fault In Our Stars.

So tonight, when the finale of a Breaking Bad conflicts with the season premiere of Homeland, I won’t have to choose.

Binge watching, binge reading… this world had finally caught up with me.

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