So I come home from work, sensing that something is about to go wrong with my body. Nothing definite, no real symptoms, but something ain’t right. As I settle down to watch Keith Olbermann get all snarky, I start shivering. It’s 90 degrees outside and 78 inside, but I’m shaking and sweating. My lower back feels like I’ve been kidney punched. Food is not appealing. This must be serious. I pop some Tylenol, stay up a while longer, but finally give up and go to bed. The Admiral asks me if I got a flu shot this year. She knows the answer. Her look is a silent rebuke.

After a miserable night I get up and actually feel slightly better. Time to channel surf. I’m never at home during the week so other than Oprah, I’m clueless about daytime TV. It turns out I’m missing nothing. It is my misfortune to accidentally stumble into that third circle of hell called “The Jerry Springer Show.”

I hadn’t watched this terrifying spectacle for years and was only vaguely aware that it was still on the air. Of course, for all I know I’m watching an episode from ten years ago. Somehow I suspect that the hairstyles and clothing of Springer audience members never vary much from year to year.

The usual suspects were there–overweight wretches from some backwater, fighting because someone’s baby’s mama was sleeping with someone’s brother who is actually gay but is secretely attracted to women with no teeth because they give good, well, you know… And the audience is egging them on to rip each other’s clothes off so that we can all see that they wear cheap underwear (or are completely commando) under their cheaper clothes. Women in the audience inexplicably flash pixellated tits for no reason I can discern, but then I have a fever.

The “guests,” heaving and panting, break off their fight with the assistance of a couple of brawny bouncers. Meanwhile, Jerry stands nearby, chin in hand, looking faintly puzzled as if he can’t imagine what possesses these sad cases to engage in such humiliating behavior on national TV, no less!  Someone rings a bell and the contestants square off, determined to do battle and shed what little pride and remaining clothing still hangs in tatters on their sweaty bodies.

This is entertainment? It’s human dog fighting, and you can’t watch it without feeling sad for the pathetic souls on the stage and disdain for those who watch it, and more than a little contempt for the corporate sponsors.

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