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The Influence of Small Decisions

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Jed’s revelation came while sitting in front of the TV one Friday morning, his trusty java in one hand, the remote in the other. CNN featured the trial of a man accused of butchering his wife. The DNA from a single hair found in the truck was that morning’s hot news. Why do I care, he wondered, and pressed the button.

ABC offered the teary confessions of a diva heartbroken by the end of a relationship the tabloids had accused her of terminating by way of another tryst. The thinnest strand of bright silver lay perfectly over her bronze chest. He pressed the button.

NBC featured the burned-out husk of an upturned Humvee. Two more GIs dead. One of the soldiers’ father cried on screen, insisted there was nothing about Iraq worth his son’s life. Jed had a long day ahead of him at work. He pressed the button.

The Jetsons on the children’s network. Ozzie and Harriet. Bert and Ernie. Turner Classics: Humphrey Bogart. Exercise: three blonds on a beach, a man in front, two women behind, all three cut from the same bulk. A fur jacket for a low, low price. The 1994 Super Bowl. A candidate fund raiser on C-Span. Britney Spears’ perfect belly-button on MTV. Little House. Teletubbies. The Price is Right. The 700 Club. Maury Povitch, featuring a 200-pound six-year-old. Regis Philbin. Click, click, click.

Tears on Lifetime. Hunting. Fishing. I Dream of Jeannie. WWF reruns. Some clown. A dog licking a child’s face. More Britney Spears. That morning trio on Fox News segueing, so to speak, from some cheap shot at the French to the horror of steroids in the NFL.

And it’s all in my hand, he thought, in this eight-inch chunk of black plastic, like a genie from a bottle. Amazing. Anything your heart desires.

The sound of his wife’s house-slippered feet swished through the kitchen; the cup she drew from the cupboard chimed a bit when it bumped another. The tinny splash of hot coffee. A slight cough. “What’cha watchin’?” she said, walking in through half a yawn.

“TV,” he told her.

“No kidding,” she said.

“Do you realize how much power I have in my hand?” he asked.

She squeezed her eyes tight shut. “Jed, it’s too early.”

“No, really,” he told her. “If I were to watch Britney Spears all morning, I’d go to work in a wholly different mood than if I watch C-span.”

“Not so holy,” she told him.

“With this remote,” he said, pointing it at her, “I create my own character.”

“You’ve been reading Ray Bradbury,” his wife told him.

“Has nothing to do with science fiction,” he told her. “Let me find Judge Judy.”

“Jed,” she said, “just put on the weather.”

“Even that’s a choice,” he said. “Even that says something about who I am, about what I want to be. I’m serious about this.”

“It’s too early to be serious,” she told him. “My toes are still cold.”

“Then warm ‘em up,” he said, flicking to the beach workout.

She rolled her eyes.

“You and I ought to grow some pecs,” he told her. “Get ourselves six packs like that.” He pointed at the man’s ribs.

“Dream on,” she said.

“Here’s what I’m thinking,” he said. “What I select says something about who I am, don’t you think? ‘Garbage in, garbage out’—you know.”

“You wait 25 years to tell me you’re Amish,” she told him.

“Okay, smartie,” he told her, “you take this thing. Show me who you are.” He tossed the remote on the couch beside her.

She looked at it as if it were alive. “And what exactly does that say about you—that you make your wife choose?”

“That I’m spineless,” he told her.

“That’s old news,” she said, smirking.

“Seriously, so much depends on us that it’s almost scary,” he told her. He pulled himself out of his chair and retrieved the remote. “Even this,” he said, “a little remote—ten bucks, no more.” He turned it to CNN.

“And what you’re saying is that every little choice you make says something about who you are?” she said.

“And makes us who we are,” he said.

“Then put the dumb thing off and help me get my toes warm,” she told him.

There was something in her smile, this wife of his for all those years—there was simply something in her smile that he loved. “Makes perfect sense to me,” he told her, flicking the remote. He sat beside her on the couch.

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