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One evening last week I really needed to hear the weather report.

I had some plans the next day and I wanted to know what to wear: a sun dress and sandals or fur-lined snow boots.

This time of year, you never know. It was 6:20 p.m., time for the final weather segment on the local evening news, so I picked up the remote and clicked on the TV.

Then I waited. I waited while a guy in a commercial asked me if I had high cholesterol and high blood pressure, then danced with his wife while splitting into two different people. (Sounds pretty stupid on paper, doesn't it?)

I waited while a bunch of people told me about their asthma, acting very annoyed that they had asthma at all. But they all broke into smiles while talking about their new medicine. They didn't even seem to mind that the voice-over said their wonder drug increases the likelihood of "asthma-related death."

I also waited while kids tried to sell me cheese crackers; the news touted its 11 p.m. broadcast of a special report on how to keep my computer safe from hackers; a bank tried to loan me money; and a car dealership hawked some deals too good to be true.

The last ad asked if I was depressed.

"No," I said aloud, "I just look like this because I want my weather report."

When the news finally came back on, the familiar team of talking heads was lined up at the news desk.

One of the anchors introduced the weather guy with, "And now here's (name withheld so I don't get sued) with a final look at the weather. Take it away, (name withheld so I don't get sued)!"

"Well, as I said before, it's going to be ..." started the weather guy. But that's as far as he got, because that's when the clever banter and friendly joshing kicked in. His fellow newscasters commented on every aspect of the weather forecast at top volume:

"Guess I'll have to press my seersucker suit!" joked one of news team.

"Time to bring out the mosquito netting!" kidded another.

Through all this, our trusty weatherman kept on slogging. They put the seven-day forecast up on the screen and he tried valiantly to narrate it, but you could hardly hear him over the hilarious comments and witty jibes of his co-workers.

"What rapport they have with each other!" we're supposed to think; "What fun they must have working together!" and, "Why, they're just plain folks like us!"

By the time they signed off -- all still talking at once and laughing out of context -- the weather guy seemed vaguely annoyed and the sportscaster had an expression on his face like he'd just been caught filling somebody's jockstrap with Ben Gay (or it might have been indigestion).

And me? I still had absolutely no idea what the weather was going to be the next day.

When I was a kid, I was taught it was impolite to talk when someone else was speaking -- especially if there was a TV camera trained on him and thousands of people were hanging on his every word.

Seriously. My father was a director at WCBS-TV in New York City, and one of his shows was the news. If the red light was on, your lip was zipped unless it was your turn to talk.

Cranky old poop that I am -- and hubby Doug being away on business and not there to wrestle the phone from my curmudgeonly grip -- I immediately called the station.

"Hello? I'd like to speak to the director of the 6 o'clock free-for-all, er, news, please. There's no one there? How can that be? You just went off the air, and the show is live. Is there anyone in the studio? A referee? A chaperone?

"OK, fine. Put me into the 'comment' voice mail. But I hope you've got plenty of room on that tape, because I've got plenty of comments."

It's no wonder I get my news from the comedy channel.

Cathy Drinkwater Better writes from Eldersburg. E-mail her at cbetter@juno.com.


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