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|Reality Shows - Page 3|
"And this absurd adolescent fantasy I can't stop watching? Surreality. At best. How can the hospital authorities allow this dreck to contaminate the atmosphere while we brave souls are being forced to confront reality—the real reality—at its harshest and starkest? Are they blind? Stupid? Is this another sign of institutional indifference, like the wrongheaded bulk of the chairs they've chosen to clutter up the room?"
Then, as "Jennifer, 22, Omaha, College Senior: Communications Major" wriggles onto the Bachelor's lap, laughing with exaggerated gusto at something he's just said to her, my friend's brother walks in and reports that my friend's condition has stabilized, and if she manages to remain that way for another hour or two (that is, until 4 a.m.), they won't have to admit her and we can take her home. Meaning? More waiting. We smile. We shrug shoulders. We say nothing. Relief and frustration at the same time: she's dodged another bullet, yet plenty more await her. For sure. He returns to the ER to wait some more.
I return to the unforgivable sin called Bachelor Calling, which, magically transformed by the good news about my friend, has somehow turned into something completely forgivable. Even fun. So stupid, it's fun. An escape. The beautiful women, the colors, the transparently calculated ploys, the fairy-tale house. For the first time in several hours, I start to relax, even smile. The show that had just made me rant and rave is now making me smile, not with admiration, no, but at least with some diversionary pleasure. While the others in the waiting room remain oblivious to its charms, I settle in. Jennifer and the Bachelor are making out on the couch. Ashley, observing from the doorway, is definitely not enjoying what she sees. What wince-inducing gambit will she try to pull off next?
Fifteen minutes later, as the episode is winding down and it appears, to my delight, that the sullen and devious Ashley is being thrown out of the house and off the show, my friend's brother taps my shoulder and plops into the giant chair next to mine. New news. Yet another U-turn. Her heart has suddenly started to beat irregularly, and they've decided to admit her after all. He parrots back some medical jargon that neither of us understands and I can't even listen to. All I do understand is that she stays and we go home. I think. Why they had to make us wait here for hours until they reached what to me was the obvious decision the moment we rushed in here remains a mystery to both of us. As he speaks, he looks vacantly at the TV, but it's clear he isn't seeing what his eyes are resting on. In fact, no one in the room but me notices that Ashley, unconsolable, is crying. Or pretending to. The credits roll. One reality show is ending, its conclusion clear, maybe even just. But the other one we're all stuck in, the one whose resolution we continue waiting for in vain, just keeps going on.
Fred Wistow lives in New York City. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us what you think about this article by e-mail at email@example.com, or at www.psychotherapynetworker.org. Log in and you'll find the comment section on every page of the online Magazine section.