Three words: Toddlers and Tiaras.
Midway through the endless road trip I have described in excruciating detail, we pulled into America's Best Value Motel in Somewhere, West Virgina and collapsed in five sticky, exhausted heaps.
We brushed our teeth. We changed our clothes. We collapsed once again.
I scrounged the remote and began to surf. It was about eleven o'clock at night, so there was precious little family programming. And then I came across a show I've written about but never seen -- Toddlers and Tiaras.
We were hooked -- Destiny and Ashley, Emma and somebody else. Who would win? Who would melt down? Which mother would cry? Would pixie sticks and soft drinks keep those two-year-olds perky for the judges?
The episode we watched actually generated quite a buzz because the theme was the 1950s and rather than outfitting her daughter in a poodle skirt and a sweater set, Destiny's mom dressed her three-year-old daughter as Sandy from Grease, complete with the leather pants and -- I'm not making this up -- a cigarette. It was a fake cigarette, Mom was quick to point out. Destiny pretended to smoke it, threw it to the ground, and stubbed it out with her high heeled shoe.
The show is the last word in awful, but oddly mesmerizing, drawing you in the same way you might crane your neck to catch a glimpse of a fire or a car accident.
In the morning, I checked the news trying to hear what was happening with the hurricane headed toward New Orleans. Before I found the weather station, I found A Baby Story.
I can't pass up A Baby Story. On Kelly's list of must see T.V., it's neck and neck with Little House on the Prairie with The Waltons pulling in at a distant third.
We got to watch baby Emma (popular name, Emma) come into the world. Of course, I flipped channels at the appropriate moments. I cried. Ainsley got all excited. The boys rolled their eyes.
And this, my friends, is why we don't have cable. If I can watch Toddlers and Tiaras, I am hopelessly lacking in self-restraint. Best we don't let it in the door.