Remember when the news came from two sources, only? Your local newspaper, and the local news station. Did you ever, for the life of you, think there would be hundreds of news sources- competing for your attention?
I guess there were clues that this would happen. The birth of the news-teaser should have alerted us all that things were about to change- dramatically. You know the news-teaser. It's the little bit of information they give you- between shows- that makes you want to stay up and watch the news. A preview, of sorts.
They didn't used to use this, if you remember. Yes, CNN existed, but we didn't turn to it for local news back then- too global. Or MSNBC, or Huffpost, or any of the other news sources that we now regularly visit for our daily news fix. If you wanted news, you had to stay up until 11 to see it. Apparently, when all that started to change, the news teaser was born. And I remember exactly when it happened. May, 2001.
It was May 2001. My best friend and I were living in a really cute bungalow house in Downtown San Jose, California. The weather was gorgeous. The windows were open. We were enjoying our usual weekly ritual of watching Temptation Island, drinking pina coladas, and getting really stoned. Yes, I realize this is a Mommy blog and I'm talking about drug use, but lighten up. It was over a decade ago, okay? I'm pretty sure haven't been stoned since my twenties, so you don't have to call Child Protective Services.
|This anti-drug campaign was all the rage when I was a kid. I can't believe it didn't work.|
We're young. We're carefree. We're pretty sure that crazy bug-eyed lunatic, Toni, is about to cheat on her fiance with one of the island boys. Life is good.
Cut to commercial.
Cheryl Jennings, news anchor, comes on- with her frosted hair in all of its glory- and says;
Crazed killer on the loose in Downtown San Jose. More at eleven.
My heart starts pounding. I look at my friend.
What in the ever-loving shit did she just say? And why is she looking at me like that? Why in the hell do we have to wait until eleven? Don't you think they should tell us now? And why in the hell is she looking at me like that? It's almost like she's flirting. THIS IS TOTALLY FREAKING ME OUT.
My friend, always the voice of reason, takes a long, calm sip of her pina colada and says;
I'm sure it's fine. It's fine. Stop freaking out.
Okay. She's right. Besides, Temptation Island is back on, and I really don't want to miss this part. The night vision video is on. Toni is totally getting busy with the Island boy. Scandalous! I forget all about crazed killer on the loose, until...
What was that? What in the hell was that? Did you hear that? He's in the basement! He's in the basement. HOLY SHIT, THE CRAZED KILLER IS IN OUR BASEMENT! CALL THE POLICE! This barrage of panicked orders is coming out of my friend's mouth. My friend. Professional, calm, great in a crisis, friend- is ordering me to call the police. Of course I do.
911? Yes, this is an emergency. The crazed killer is at our house.
Ma'am, what's your address? Has someone broken into your house? Do you know this person? It it an acquaintance?
No, I don't know him. He's in our basement. He's a crazed killer. The crazed killer! The one that Cheryl Jennings was just talking about on TV.
Ma'am, I'm sending a squad car, okay? Try to calm down.
I hang up the phone. That was weird. She seemed unusually calm, considering that we've found the crazed killer on the loose- and he's in our basement. Shouldn't she be talking us through this? What if there is some kind of hostage situation about to take place?
I glance around the room, then jump up to lock the windows. I run into the coffee table, stub my toe, and knock the bong over onto the floor. Then it hits me. We are stoned out of our minds- and we've just called the cops to our house.
Ow, mother-fuck, that hurt! And what the hell have we done? It reeks in here! I just spilled bong water all over the floor! And the cops are coming! SHIT! This is your fault! Why did you tell me to do that? Stupid! Remember, the first time I got stoned I thought I was having a heart attack? Well, I wasn't, was I? And there is no goddamn killer in our basement right now! Arghh! Why? Why did I listen to you?
Friend, stares at me, and responds; Calm down, Maria. Calm down right now. You are going to have to answer the door. There is no way I'm doing it. I'm a professional journalist. You're a waitress. You have to do this. I may have seen one of these cops on a story.
What? Are you serious? Blue and red lights start to come through the front window. They're here. Fantastic. Moment of panic has rendered me stone cold sober, and I can't believe that we've done this.
I see flashlights moving down the side of our house. Talking. Then there is a knock at the back door. I open it. Sort of. Actually only about a half an inch. In retrospect, probably not the best decision to only have my bloodshot eye showing, but- like they say- hindsight is 20/20.
Ma'am, there is no one in your basement. You should really get a light bulb for this back porch, though. What did you hear? Why did you think someone was down there?
What was I supposed to say here? Because my stoned friend convinced me? Because I've never experienced having to be courted by the news, and I was confused?
Because Cheryl Jennings said so.
I haven't been duped by a news-teaser since.