A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.

By Nina Pajak

How did everyone enjoy the long weekend? You know, it’s the second-to-last before the spring drought, so it’s important to take full advantage. After February, most of us won’t see another free four day workweek until Memorial Day.

As yesterday was our wedding anniversary, we spent the last few days eating and drinking in a manner befitting a Roman emperor. It was nice.

During the times I wasn’t in consumption mode or sleeping in like a hungover college student or being generally frozen to the bone (winter, wtf?), I was on the couch watching hours upon hours of Breaking Bad. Upon hours. Seriously. I can’t stop.

In general, I am resistant to the various cults of entertainment that arise around certain movies or TV shows. As soon as more than three people in my life start demanding that I watch something-or-other or be deemed a hopelessly uncool stupid jerk loser, they’ve lost me. My kneejerk reaction is to say, “eh. I don’t think so.” I call it “The Lives of Others” effect. Years ago, when that critically-acclaimed movie came out, both of my parents, who are divorced, saw it and loved it. Unbeknownst to them (until we made it beknownst), every conversation my brother or I had with either of them thereafter included the admonishment: “have you seen The Lives of Others yet? Why not!?” At first we’d mildly say, “yeah okay, I’ll go see it. It sounds great.” But the longer this went on, the angrier my brother and I became and the sicker we grew of hearing about the stupid lives of whoever blahblahblah. “We’ve made a decision,” we told each parent. “We will never. Ever. Ever see The Lives of Others. So quit asking.”

“Whatever,” they shrugged. “Your loss.”

To this day, every so often, one of them will reference the movie and the conversation starts all over again.

The pressure mounts. People really, really hate a contrarian. Especially when they’re pushing something they love and want to talk about, like The Wire (I relented) or iPhones (never!). At a certain point, my refusal to go along with the advice becomes less about genuine disinterest and more a fun game in making my friends and family appallingly irritated.

So when my brother, my father, my husband and my mother all started watching Breaking Bad, I figured this was another Lives of Others situation. I would hold fast. I would abstain. Then it became clear that I could not have a meal with any permutation of my family members without the conversation turning to this show. Every get-together was becoming a series of spoiler alerts. So I gave in. And now I am transforming into one of Them. The pushers. No, not the meth pushers. The show pushers. I’m a newly anointed zealot. You WILL watch it. You WILL find it to be brilliant, or I will call you an uncool stupid jerk loser. I will talk about it incessantly until you beg me to stop. I may or may not start wishing I’d paid more attention in chemistry class. I will probably start calling more people “bitch” in casual conversation. You know how it goes.

I wonder if Netflix streaming has The Lives of Others . . .


Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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