It's kind of astounding the impact that the iconic, “appointment-TV” show "Game of Thrones" on HBO can have on a person and what that person once considered a normal, somewhat predictable existence.


    You and your spouse decide when you’re seven seasons behind - that's almost 70 episodes and around 70 hours of viewing - to finally start watching the show, and when it's clear early on that you enjoy it immensely, you gleefully hand over most every moment of your free time to watch. And watch some more. So you can catch up.

    The eighth and final season is fast approaching. Your friends and colleagues are abuzz with anticipation, but, bless them, they are aware of your status as a largely ignorant Game of Thrones laggard, so they are models of discretion because they don't want to spoil any coming surprises for you.

    Your viewing pace impresses them, mightily.

    "How much progress did you make last night?" you are asked at the office, and you respond, "We watched four." As in, four episodes.

    "Wow" or “Jesus” are typical responses.

    This dialogue is repeated almost daily for weeks, and as you bulldoze your way through seasons three, four and five and six, your friends and colleagues are almost giddy as they're slowly but consistently unburdened by the shackles that early on had so limited what they were free to say openly about major Game of Thrones plot developments.

    "So, the red wedding...your thoughts?" is how one conversation starts one morning. Then, a few days later, "How happy were you to see King Joffrey get what he had coming?" And, later, "The Mountain crushing Oberyn's skull...gnarly, huh?"

      On and on you forge ahead, until a weekend arrives that begins with your birthday on Friday, coupled with the publication of your huge, special, annual edition at the newspaper where you work. There will be some revelry, for sure. And the next day, Saturday, is prom, so you're busy with photos during the day, and grand march, and then you're up late with treasured friends who also have kids attending the big dance and after-prom party.  You know these two busy days and late nights are going to catch up with you come Sunday, which is supposed to be cool and cloudy anyway, so you make a pact with your wife: Sunday will be Game of Thrones Day.

    You get up Sunday morning, and it's pretty normal. The cats get their morning meal. A pot of coffee is brewed. You sit together in the living room for a couple hours, each with your laptops. Your wife is mostly doing work, while you read all of the digital editions of your favorite newspapers and hammer out the first draft of next week's column for the newspaper that employs you. As late morning approaches, she makes herself some toast with jam. You turn down her offer to make some for you, because you have a craving for the cold pizza in the fridge.

    It's almost noon. The laptops are folded shut and put away, and the brief lull that ensues serves as an opportunity to get down to the business that was intended for this day.

    "Ready?" you say.

    She is.

    A little more than ten hours later, it is finished. Season seven, that is. You've watched 10 episodes that day, pausing only for quick bathroom and snack breaks. You text your friends and colleagues the news: "Season 7...done." Their replies indicate they're a bit torn over whether or not the binge-fest you have just embarked on is perhaps one of the more impressive things that has ever been brought to their attention, or if you need counseling, or maybe an ambulance.

    Monday at work, the chatter is free and easy, but not entirely without discretion. You still have the first three episodes of season eight to watch to fully catch up, with the third episode featuring perhaps Game of Thrones’ most epic battle, which has fans especially twitchy with excitement.

    Child’s play. You pile-drive through those three that night. There are no more secrets or whispers, no more off-limits Game of Thrones conversation topics. It’s bliss. After weeks of being terrified of what you might accidentally stumble across, you are now free to scroll care-free through your Twitter feed. You are free to work yourself into a frenzied froth just like everyone else as the final episodes of Game of Thrones' final season approach.

    But now you have to wait for the weekly Sunday episodes. It’s a shock to your system. Suddenly, each day seems like it’s 100 hours long. What should you do to pass all this time? Start writing your book? Rotate your tires? Cut down the big dead tree in the backyard? Yodel? Adopt a highway?

    Start re-watching episode one, your wife suggests?

    “Oh, baby, come on,” you reply. “We’re not crazy, after all.”