I was a zombie. At three in the morning I awakened from a brief, fitful slumber and saw Tony Soprano glaring suspiciously at a possible traitor, or murderously at a possible enemy, or spilling his guts to his female shrink, or pounding somebody into bloody submission, or casually lying to his wife after bedding down another confused and psychotic female over-powered by his somehow vulnerable criminality. Milling around in my addled brain was the vicious, purely malevolent, unbelievably despicable Paulie, who hates cats, gays, and just about anything that walks or crawls save Tony, whom he worships. It went on and on, a kaleidoscopic assault, and I went to yoga at 9 in the morning in a state of disrepair, yawning, logy, unwilling to complete poses, counting the minutes, anxious to get out, shop for dinner (microwave style) and start in on the noon start of The Sopranos, which was to run from noon to midnight for 5 more days and nights.
Secretly, I was thrilled to have something as fantastic as this show to stuff into the emptiness of my current condition, a state of stasis so overwhelming and fruitless and disturbing that I couldn't even muster up enough energy to become depressed.
It went on this way for six straight days and nights. It began to wear on me, sour me, turn me into an insensitive person feeling life was even more meaningless than I could have imagined. Though I would admit to only one person that I had stooped to this level of escapism and obdurate mindlessness (my woman is also a TV binge victim) I felt no shame, no guilt, was merely thankful to be entertained by supreme greatness, and even indulging in a few cruel laughs at the occasional black humor emanating from these cold-blooded sociopaths, psychopaths and sadistic killers.
By the third installment I had planned my entire day around the series, as well as the rest of the week. Nothing else mattered. Phone messages from friends went unanswered in fear I'd miss Tony getting revenge on another unspeakable monster who deserved it, and the subsequent hacking up of the victims and their disappearance into either a grave dug out by a stolen backhoe in the frozen tundra in the wee hours or a dumping into a swamp or ocean with a bowling ball attached. Good stuff.
I rushed around mornings after yoga and tennis to finish my meager list of usual chores and purchases and readings of my LA Times so I'd be ready at noon to begin my 12 hour marathon binge, or, for God's sake, a siege of the body, brain and soul. By 8 o'clock my eyes began to blur and water and film over and soon gummed up, and I had to pry my lids apart, my glasses smudged from the goo and repeatedly cleaned with my T shirt. One night I succumbed to snoozing at around eleven and woke up quickly to a grisly murder at 11:47 (Tony strangling one of his crazed captains in his kitchen in a bloodbath) and regretted missing the lead up.
Over the weekend I ignored NFL playoff games, which I'd never missed before. One night my beloved Lakers were playing. I never miss the Lakers. They have been my lifeblood since 1960 when they moved to LA from Minneapolis. All I did on this night is quickly switch to catch the score and move instantly back to the Sopranos. I didn't care that they lost.
By the final installment I was close to brain dead and became a bit detached, almost as if my concentration had floated out of my system as I constantly pinched myself to pay attention to the final episodes, hoping above all that somebody would soon kill the hideous Phil, who tortured the poor obese, murderous homosexual gangster before murdering him, and soon somebody did (shot in the head at a gas station in front of his grandkids), and then I hoped that after almost all of Tony's thugs and lieutenants and captains had been murdered, Paulie would get it, but the miserable prick was the only survivor.
It didn't matter at this point anyway, because by this time I was no longer myself, but instead something worse, something more moribund and deficient and hopeless than the bored, lazy, uninspired, wretched shard of humanity before the Sopranos had captured me, a person so debilitated he couldn't read his newspaper in the morning, much less return to book and magazine reading.
About the only good thing the series did for me was reinvigorate my appetite. I had been on the verge of losing my passion for gluttony and merely going through the motions, but after viewing Tony's fellow gangsters conducting almost all of their business hunched over to-go pizzas or Chinese, or cooked up grub in the spacious Bada Bing strip club headquarters office, or Tony and Carmella relishing gourmet meals in fancy Italian eateries, or the hefty Tony opening the fridge in his stately home and noshing on Carmella's ravioli's and tortellini's, or Tony walking around munching on a meatball or sausage sandwich purchased at a deli in New Jersey or Brooklyn or wherever, I decided to cook up enough spaghetti and a meat sauce with mushrooms and onions to last me a week.
I intend to warm it up tonight after watching NFL playoff games while viewing my Lakers—at last.