By Darren Johnson
I’d like to say I just had a summer like the Summer of 2016 — that summer I’d read several classic novels while also exercising and losing a good deal of weight and also writing what I think was a very solid novel. It’s currently being pitched to agents.
But, no, the Summer of 2017 was none of that. I had put on some weight in the winter, and really didn’t take it off this past summer. Only by August 15 or so I started jogging at the local high school track. A mile or so. I’m slow. One day, there were Pop Warner football players all on the field inside the track, so I decided to get a cherry soda slushie instead at the local convenience store.
The books I read were mostly garbage, and I didn’t have much discipline in attacking them. I’d have a couple going at a time, then neglect them for a couple of weeks, and forget who all the characters are. With my own writing, I did try to write a sequel to my 2016 book — and it’s good — but it’s only half done, and I feel that while the writing is there, I haven’t given it my usual level of copy editing.
I’m not sure what went wrong this past summer. Why I couldn’t focus. But at the same time, I did sell some ads for Campus News. For some reason, that was easier than in previous summers. Without the ads, papers like this just cease existing.
One thing I had trouble turning away from was trash TV. It seems I kept getting pulled into reality shows like “90 Day Fiance” on TLC and would hate myself after. It only has a 5.8/10 critics score on IMDb. I’d say to myself during commercial breaks, “Why is a college instructor watching this?” But then I’d get dragged back in after the ads.
The premise of the show is that Americans find “love” overseas, and they must get married within 90 days of the foreign fiance’s arrival in the US to get a green card for the foreign spouse so that they both can live here — but there’s drama, and it seems that some of the Americans are getting played.
One couple, Danielle, 42, and Mohamed, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio, and Tunis, Tunisia, respectively, are particularly annoying. In what fantasy world did she think this young man was truly interested in her and her dire situation, of unemployment and the utility company turning her lights out? Of course, right after the marriage (and without consummating it), Mohamed flees to Miami and finds some more age-appropriate affection. These types of shows make me want to throw the remote control into the TV.
Another couple, Jorge and Anfisa, full of implants and Botox and from Russia, is also sad. The heavyset, nerdy American fell in love with her photos online, while she seems to be all about spending his money — and physically hitting him and verbally demeaning him. I mean, dude!
Sometimes the Americans on the show are worse than the green-card scammers. One 50-ish guy went down to Haiti to give a young girl $2500 worth of panties, for example. He should be locked up. It’s true people in developing countries can be exploited; is TLC exploiting them further? Most TLC shows seem to exploit people — obese people, little people, special needs people, etc. Are we also being exploitative by watching this stuff?
“90 Day Fiance” recently had a recap show, where all of the combatants were in the same room, berating each other. It was — sadly — kind of juicy, in a 1980s WWF Wrestling kind of way.
So, in any case, now that the Fall is here, I can put my shame aside. What I did over summer vacation isn’t all that worth mentioning. And it’s behind me now. Maybe I need to go to church or something, and get back on the right track.