Quick, Who's My Favorite Ninja Turtle?

Bleakness rent my spirit. For days I pinched the bridge of my nose and squinted. I pushed at the inside corner of my eyes until they bulged and I was nearly blind. Indecision can be both frantic and depressing. I cried for the first time in years.

“I just don’t know.” I had called my father with hopes to unburden myself of the responsibility and explain that he must help me. I paced my front room, tucking a hand under my elbow, and, without thought, jangling keys. “Choose one for me, please.”

“I don’t even know what a Ninja Turtle is, Son. And I can’t tell you which one should be your favorite.”

I threw the keys into the kitchen sink, metal clanging on metal. “Well, I can’t!” I shouted to him, desperate more than angry. “I’ve been worrying about it for weeks, and I can’t pick one.” I chewed a thumbnail.

“Maybe we should see Doctor Romero again.”

“Doctor Romero can’t help me now,” I said, frowning. “Damn him and his macaroni.” I imitated Doctor Romero’s slow, sensitive tone, “Today, Anthony, I want you to arrange the macaroni on the paper in a way that expresses your feeling.” Shouting again, “I DON’T WANT TO ARRANGE THE MACARONI ACCORDING TO MY FEELINGS, QUACKTOR ROMERO! I WANT SOMEONE TO TELL ME WHICH NINJA TURTLE IS MY FAVORITE. BECAUSE I CAN’T DO IT! I CAN’T DO IT!”

“Easy, Son. Easy.”

“If only it were.” I hung up.

My ankle itched and I half-scratched it with my other heel, not quite getting the job done. I turned the TV on and chewed at my thumb more. I picked up the phone and dialed Jennifer. Looking into the sink, I discovered my keys had cracked a porcelain cup.

“Why can’t they all be your favorite?” Jennifer offered.

“Please. Please, don’t be ridiculous right now. Please.”

“No, wait,” she said. She paused to grasp at her own idea. “What if you enjoyed them all as a ‘favorite,’ only all of them at once? The Ninja Turtles would be your favorite TV show, or your favorite crime fighters, or just your favorite Saturday morning cartoon.”

“It doesn’t work like that,” I moaned, holding the phone away, looking to the heavens for strength to deal.

“Why not?”



I shut the sound off. I watch everything muted now. Mostly I listen to Viens, Mallika, les lianes en fleurs...Sous le dôme épais from Delibes’s opera Lakmé while watching TV. The following is an interpretation of that.

Thursday, April 10
USA 8:00 a.m.

(The duet begins with both girls singing. This shows that Lakmé is whole, unbroken. She’s not yet torn between love and duty to her father.) Man, that chick from JAG is a fox. It’s, like, “Hello there! Can I interest you in something smothered in underwear with a side order of man thigh?”

My Name Is Earl
NBC 8:00 p.m.

(Lyrics of jasmine give an aromatic exotic feel to the Indian garden setting where Malliki means to bathe Lakmé. Jasmine, which blooms for only a short time, also hints at Lakmé’s role.) Earl’s ’73 El Camino is super sweet. I had a ’68 El Camino, but mine didn’t have cool stripes like Earl’s; it was primer gray. The car is probably why Jaime Pressly got with Earl in the first place. Trashy women love El Caminos.

Friday, April 11
Miss USA 2008
NBC 9:00 p.m.

(Mention of shining waves, a bank, and a singing bird lend an idyllic air. The river is change — change for Lakmé, change for India under British rule, change of seasons and the beginning of a new era.) Snooping reporters digging up pictures of drunk contestants are the only cool things about Miss USA any more. Other than that it’s pretty stupid. Put a case of beer and a camera in the green room and let the girls rip. That should be the Miss USA show.

Saturday, April 12
The Spectacular Spider-Man
CW 9:30 a.m.

(“Ah! We descend together,” Lakmé sings, not only of her and Malliki to the river, but also her and Gérald as doomed lovers. As the lyric “roses entwined” suggests.) My theme song uses the old Spider-Man music, but the lyrics go, “Underpants, underpants. Ollie’s wearing new underpants. Underpants! Underpants! Ollie’s wearing new underpants, LOOK OUT! He’s got new underpants!”

Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
Spike 8:00 p.m.

(The girls’ voices separate and they sing in a round. Gérald and her father want only what they can get from Lakmé, which is greedy and almost regardless of her as a person, but also born from love and devotion. Lakmé will be torn.) “LUKE! LUKE, I’M YOUR DAD! C’MON, THE DARK SIDE IS COOL, YOU DUMMY!” Then Luke’s like, “EAT IT! YOU CUT MY HAND OFF, DIRT BAG!” Then he falls down that air vent. Rad.

Sunday, April 13
Big Brother 9
CBS 8:00 p.m.

(“Covered with flowers, laughing in the morning” can only mean innocence of youth. After all, a bath between two girls could be indecent, but that’s never even hinted at because we’re to feel that Lakmé, and by extension India, are innocent and young.) Man, the other day I ate lamb. Whooeee. My apartment has smelled like a prison pillowcase every since. Watch out, boy. Watch out.

Monday, April 14
The Big Bang Theory
CBS 8:00 p.m.

(The two voices and lyrics from preceding stanzas are joined here. They sing “Let us descend together” and mention the rivers sparkling waves, which Malliki refers to as “charming risings.” Certainly Lakmé’s initial resistance to Gérald’s advances were overcome by his swelling charm.) I wish The Big Bang Theory nerds lived next to me. I’d force them to hook me up with free cable, even the nudie stations, or else I’d punch them all in the beak. Figure it out, geeks! Or get a sock in the mush!

Tuesday, April 15
Judge Judy
KUSI 9:00 p.m.

(The garden Lakmé bathes in is forbidden ground to foreigners. It’s Hindu’s stern laws that governed Indian society that became untenable under British occupation and soon fell.) If I was on Judge Judy, I wouldn’t do what she said. I’d tell her to shut her trap, and she could go to hell, too. She can’t have you arrested or anything; she’s not a real judge. I’d grab myself and be like, “Right here, Judge Judy. Right here.”

Wednesday, April 16
Democratic Presidential Debate
ABC 8:00 p.m.

(Gérald tells his group that many plants in the garden are poisonous, which sets up Lakmé’s final scene. It also shows that danger is everywhere, even in tranquility. It adds tension.) Hillary Clinton looks like a dude. There are pictures of her from a long time ago, and you’d think she wouldn’t look like a dude back in the ’70s. Wrong. She just looks like a dude with long hair and stupid glasses. Looks. Like. A. Dude.

Thursday, April 17
Survivor Micronesia — Fans vs. Favorites
CBS 8:00 p.m.

(It repeats “Under the thick dome [of the] white jasmine. We descend...we descend together.” The girls sing in unison. Society, rules, laws...they’re all bigger than we are, a rushing torrent. We either float with them or drown.) The UFC should have an event on the beach. That’d be sweet — guys fighting in the cage, ring girls holding up the round signs in the water. Watching fights on the beach would be RAD! I’d get tickets and then proceed to get super drunk.

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