Column: The clock ‘TikTok’-ed as dark winter loomed, then Wooderson saved the day
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Greek physician Hippocrates is credited with saying that, or words to that effect.
With dark winter fast approaching, desperate measures are being taken in our house, mostly by my wife, as she wonders how she is going to navigate the next few months marked by nostril-locking, bone-chilling temperatures, mountains of snow, a lack of natural light, and an evil virus lurking outside our door.
For instance, we've once again ramped up our discussions involving the possible purchase of a dog. We were intrigued by one at the humane society last week; my wife walked her, returned home with positive reviews, and the next day I was pondering a visit as well, and then we learned she’d been adopted a couple hours earlier.
A mammoth life change, that would be...getting a dog.
But that's nothing. Child's play.
I witnessed desperation last Saturday afternoon upon returning home from the lake, where we'd just wrapped up a another deer hunt.
My wife's car was in the garage, but she wasn't in the house. Standing in the living room, I thought I smelled the hint of a fire. But there was nary a flame in either fireplace in the house. Then my eyes caught a glimpse through the window of some movement in the backyard, and then I heard a significant noise. It was my wife. Was she crying? In pain? No, she was laughing. Laughing hard. Like, doubling over laughing hard.
She was looking at her phone while standing by a backyard bonfire she'd built.
I came outside through the back porch to join her, asking her what was so funny.
"Oh my god!" she said. "This is hilarious!"
She said she couldn't remember the last time she’d cut loose with such unrestrained laughter.
She'd downloaded TikTok, the app the kids love that has turned a whole generation of phone-addicts into online singers, comedians, actors and performance artists via the myriad videos they create. Downloading TikTok also, apparently, opens the door to the Chinese spying on you and mining all kinds of useful information on you.
No matter. It was time for my wife to share her newfound joy. She summoned me to her side and proceeded to scroll through a bevy of TikTok videos as she wiped tears from her eyes amid her continued euphoria.
There was a video of a hefty southern dude with a long beard riffing some kind of monologue about skinny women not being nearly as attractive as thicker women with "love handles." He was hoping to meet a larger gal at the “beer store,” he drawled. There was a video of a wife breaking the news to her husband that she'd struck his vehicle while trying to squeeze her vehicle into their garage. There was a video of two teenage siblings pranking their dad into thinking they'd thrown a basketball through the screen of the massive TV he'd purchased days earlier. There was a husband filming his pretty wife in the passenger's seat of their vehicle as he screamed about a "live cougar" being in his car.
I chuckled. The broken-TV video was solid, and after a couple views the cougar-in-the-car video was growing on me.
But my reaction was too tepid for my wife, who started texting friends the news of her TikTok download and sending links of her favorite videos to them. Immediately, several reciprocated and she started viewing the selections they’d chosen for her. One was of a guy making a serious, very non-funny political statement.
“Huh?” my wife said, stopping the video. “I don’t want to watch any of that.”
One friend replied to her text, saying that in a few short weeks my wife would be as “brain-dead” as she was after spending countless hours scrolling through TikTok videos.
Upon learning that their mom had downloaded TikTok, both of our sons warned of “losing hours” seemingly in an instant just from getting sucked into TikTok’s video black hole.
After we let the bonfire burn itself out that evening, we went back inside and I turned on the TV to check out some college football action, as my wife sat across the dimly lit living room, staring at her phone, scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. Once in a while, I’d hear a giggle make its way across the room.
I could feel her slipping away...and the official arrival of meteorological winter, the solstice, was still more than a month away.
I spent an uneasy night in bed, tossing and turning as I wondered how bad this would get...how much TikTok would take over my wife’s very existence.
The next morning, Sunday, I climbed out of bed after realizing my wife was already up. The cats weren’t bothering me, so they must have gotten breakfast. I could smell coffee. Encouraging signs both.
Still, I walked into the living room with more than a fair amount of trepidation. At the end of the L-shaped couch with the morning sun shining in on her, there sat my wife. Her phone was situated on the couch arm, and she was reading Matthew McConaughey’s new book, “Greenlights,” which she’d bought last week.
“Morning,” she said upon my arrival. “I deleted TikTok.”
And that was it. She didn’t elaborate, and I chose not to seek further insight into her change of heart.
At that moment, I saw a tiny light at the end of the tunnel, an illumination that will start becoming slightly larger and brighter with each passing day in a little more than a month.