Boarding my seven hour flight from Madrid to Qatar, with another seven hours from Qatar to Korea to follow, I was faced with a major dilemma: Should I watch a decent movie while flying, or should I stick to my purest beliefs and purposely watch something inferior instead. Growing up a film lover, it’s hard for me to believe that Martin Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola would want me to view their latest works of art on a tiny screen located inside the back of a headrest, the airplane jiggling with turbulence and stewardesses giving me warm towels and peanuts as the film reaches its emotional apex. I remember reading an interview with David Lynch where he scoffed at the idea of watching a film on a computer screen. No, film purists, like whatever I’m supposed to be, believe that a film is to be watched on a BIG screen. And, believe it or not, eating popcorn during it, unless the film involves superheroes or Jason Statham, is not encouraged.
Of course, I veer from this all the time. Really, I can’t remember the last movie I didn’t watch on my computer screen. Still, the airplane headrest-monitor seemed wrong to me, kind of like listening to opera in a Convertible with the stereo cranked up and the top down. Flipping through the movie selection, I settled on Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love.
This was middle-ground snobbery. I fully admit that I’m a total snob when it comes to entertainment; I can ramble on for hours about black and white films, bands that’ve sold less albums than Lady Gaga sells Halloween costumes, and books that most people use Sparknotes.com summaries to avoid reading. Then again, there can be cracks in the armor. I was, as tough as it is to admit, seriously addicted to the new 90210 at one point, and was called out once at a bar for knowing all the words to “Hit Me Baby One More Time.”
After To Rome with Love (which I liked, if you’re curious), I slept. Then I read a little bit. Then, after that, I was bored. I scanned the selection of television shows. It’s been years since I had a television, so the names of the shows, while vaguely familiar, meant little to me. I watched one episode of a show called Parks and Recreation, and decided not to view another. Trying to kill time, I put on a show called Community. It lasted about ten minutes before I turned it off, despite it having Chevy Chase in it. Chevy or no Chevy, it was putrid.
And then, like a miracle, I found it, the show that I would go on to watch a whopping ten episodes of, counting both flights. What fine, erudite program was this, you ask. The Office? 30 Rock? Louie?
No, no, no. It wasn’t any of those.
I hereby confess, on my two plane rides, I watched almost an entire season of The Big Bang Theory…and I fucking loved it.
Yes, at first I rolled my eyes. After the second episode, I took a long break, not expecting to return. But return I did. To the glories of Sheldon being neurotic, Howard having problems with his mother, Raj experiencing sexual frustration, and Leonard, strangely, getting laid a lot. Around episode 4, I was hooked; at episode 6 or 7 I had lost all shame and was laughing audibly, slapping my knee with a huge grin spread across my face. When the plane finally landed, I almost begged the pilot to circle the airport for a bit so I could finish off the last remaining episodes. I had been sucked in.
In the days that followed, I had some trouble looking at myself in the mirror. I felt so dirty. I’d crouch down in the shower, shaking with shame while the water ran down my face. What had happened on that plane? I tried to block it out by reciting the standout films of the French New Wave and their directors. Still, there was a tiny voice inside me, the same voice a drug addict or a habitual wife beater must have, trying to direct me into further guilt.
“Go online,” it whispered. “It’s okay, just a couple episodes. See what’s happening with Sheldon and Blossom. Come on…you know you want to.”
“Shut up!” I screamed. “Stop it!” And I took my hands and pulled at the hair on my head.
Currently, it’s been about a week since my shameful Big Bang Theory digression. I would prefer to pretend it never happened, the same way Republicans refuse to believe George W. Bush ever existed. I’m doing okay, getting along well in my normal routine. Taking things one day at a time.
However, as nice as hiding the sad facts are, I chose to write this, in order to tell the world what horrible things happened up in the sky that day. As they say in AA, “You’re only as sick as your secrets.”