Snacking in front of the TV

Sitting on the couch, watching TV and movies with others, I never snack. Alone, I must snack. Why is this?

I can’t just sit in front of the screen twiddling my thumbs, can I? I don’t knit or crochet or tat or whittle. Sorting and folding the wash doesn’t take very long. I don’t like to iron in front of the tube. Personal grooming is out in the family room. I can pet the cat, but not for an hour. Snacking is the go-to activity. I’m accomplishing something: I’m eating and drinking. Or is this not a habit, but a compulsion? Are my motivations darker? Loneliness? Comfort needed in the dark of night? Sublimation of other appetites? Boredom? Ennui? Is my snacking influenced by what’s on-screen, by whether I’m watching Criterion or zombies?

Ignoring the case where meals are eaten in front of the screen (no longer the tube, except for some of us) – meals are a whole different animal from snacks – I’m figuring that snacking is not an optimally healthful activity. I could be using hand-weights. I could be doing TV yoga. Why eat? And why eat salty snax instead of carrot sticks, almonds, Rye Crisp? Why alcohol instead of whey milk? Why grass instead of tobacco? Ok, that last one is easy.

I took a quick poll around me at work, but rats, it’s not simple. I was hoping for an easy two-kinds-of-people-in-the-world model, populated by those who snack alone and those who snack with others, in front of the screen. Instead, I get is a dichotomous planet inhabited by those who eat popcorn and those who don’t. What kind of a crazy divide is that, anyway? I get some who will snack only when alone, TV or no TV. I’m not that restricted. These loners with their mouths full are today’s version of troglodytous ancestors who, when they brought down the warthog single-handedly, would drag it back to the cave to be converted into jerky and consumed solo while star-watching on summer nights. Star-watching while jerky-eating, but also while listening to the embarassing sounds coming from the caves of others.

Others will snack only when not alone, as when the tribe gathers around the cooking pot wherein the hapless explorer sits up to his neck in soup liqours.

But between these two extreme poles of TV snacking behavior, there lies a multi-dimensioned spectrum of munching viewers. My assistant in the examination of this spectrum posted a query that resulted in these responses.

Later. The results of my extensive polling. I list the snackers in descending order of sanity:

1. Those who snack because they are hungry, or at least a little peckish.
2. Those who snack because friends are over and you’ve got to put something out for them, don’t you?
3. Those who snack for revenge, or out of deep shame, or as a howl of rage at the meaninglessness of Life.
4. Those who snack to improve the quality of their favorite TV sitcom.
5. Those who will only snack while holding a small stuffed animal.