My Darling, My TiFaux
by Allison Williams


Mere minutes after its arrival, both occupants of my tiny New York City apartment began referring to our Digital Video Recorder as our "boyfriend." It was silver. It had a colorful remote. And it was magnificent. We alternately christened our sleek box of joy "TiFaux"—as in a fake TiVo. But there was nothing false about our immediate attachment to the machine that simultaneously fed our television addictions and freed us from them.

Obviously we couldn't afford that gold standard of television recorders, the TiVo; our Greenwich Village apartment housed two financially strapped young women, and we barely made rent as it was. But then Time Warner offered the knock-off to their subscribers and suddenly the TiFaux was in our grasp. For a mere few extra dollars a month, we had entertainment options besides our apartment's old stand-bys: listening in on the conversations that wafted up from the MacDougal Street bars below (slurred but funny) and catching a glimpse of the well-built neighbor across the airshaft, whose pastime was to do his dishes shirtless (all the better to avoid water stains, we assume).

Now when we tired of drunken yowls or pot-scrubbing, we turned to television, and the TiFaux didn't disappoint. At first it was an orgy of guilty pleasures—we fast-forwarded through commercials and went on a weeklong VH-1 I Love the 80's 3D binge. We watched the entirety of the Country Music Awards, and gleefully turned Thursday nights into an orgy of acronyms with The O.C., C.S.I., and ER.

"We love our TiFaux," I'd gush to acquaintances when they visited. "It's our new boyfriend." TiFaux may not deliver chocolates on Valentine's Day, but it more than makes up for it. TiFaux never minds watching the entirety of a Lifetime movie marathon on a lazy Sunday afternoon, nor does it mind recording the end for later so we can finally find out whether Ally Sheedy ever nailed that teenage rapist. And TiFaux saves old episodes of Family Guy and BBC's Coupling for late Saturday nights when, inebriated and in need of broad humor, we hydrate and sober up on the couch.

TiFaux understands that some nights we're too tired at 11 p.m. to catch Jon Stewart, so it saves The Daily Show for the weekend when we can catch up. It knows the difference between new West Wing episodes and the endless Bravo rerun marathons, and it catches the end of a show when it runs long. Real boys don't like it when you fast-forward through the boring parts of sports, but TiFaux's quite happy with skipping through a college basketball game, looking for flashy dunks and 3-pointers.

Sure, TiFaux shamelessly displays even our worst television habits—yes, we record C.S.I. every week like Midwestern housewives—but it also freed us from the chokehold of primetime broadcasts. More reliable than a VCR, TiFaux tucked away our favorite guilty pleasures until we had time to indulge in them. My roommate and I both enrolled in night classes and began a biweekly happy hour with friends out on the town. "We have to get home in time for Lost," others would say during our fortnightly social gatherings, but my roommate and I could linger at the bar and return home at leisure, undeterred by the strict programming schedule of the networks.

But that wasn't all the magic TiFaux worked. Friends came over to catch an episode they'd missed, making our apartment even more of a social locale. And though my roommate and I shared our new boyfriend, TiFaux even managed to relieve tension there too. She watches Lost, but I'm a Veronica Mars girl; now Wednesday nights are no longer a battleground of calling dibs on the TV. Our peace-loving TiFaux can record two channels at once.

Sure, there are times when our boyfriend the TiFaux is a bit of an embarrassment—like when someone notices that you never miss a week of a teen soap or reality show. But once we came to terms with our addiction to The Amazing Race and Absolutely Fabulous, we embraced it. Maybe someday we'll manage to find New York City boyfriends that are more entertaining than television—or naked dishwashing voyeurism, for that matter. But I bet we're never going to find a boyfriend who doesn't mind watching an ABC Family movie for the third time in a month, and rewinding to watch all the schmoopy parts yet again.

 

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