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America's True #1 TV Fan

On Sunday, Fox broadcast the second annual TV Guide Awards. In the audience was 39-year-old Tina Taylor, whom TV Guide editors had chosen as America's #1 TV Fan.

Surely Ms. Taylor appears to be a good choice. Her children are, she thinks, just like those she sees on programs like Full House and Everybody Loves Raymond. She thinks her mother-in-law is just like Ray Romano's TV mother. She has a 52-inch TV in her family room in addition to five other TVs; she owns five VCRs and a DVD player. And, "The TV is on 24 hours a day practically because my kids are at the house," she says.

24 hours a day practically. That's a lot of TV. Ms. Taylor herself watches news in the morning before plunking her kids down in front of the Cartoon Network, where they sit all day. At night, the whole family spends hours watching sitcoms and game shows. No word on whether everyone falls asleep to the TV leaving it on overnight, but given that the TV is on 24 hours a day practically, it's a good guess that this is, in fact, the case.

Despite this, the TV Guide editors found Ms. Taylor had a life, too. They say, "What was appealing about Tina is that she has a balanced view of TV. She has a life and fits it into her life." Although, we should note, Ms. Taylor does not read books and usually only reads, well, TV Guide.

Indeed, it sounds as if we have a winner in Ms. Tina Taylor.

But we beg to differ. The TV Guide editors missed. They did not find America's True #1 TV Fan. They did not find her because TV Guide found their #1 fan by interviewing people in shopping malls and viewing videos sent in by hopeful contestants. The True #1 TV Fan has no time for such diversions. She spends all her time at home, watching TV.

TeeVee caught up with Ms. Rosaria Jimenez in her one-bedroom apartment on 123rd Street in New York City. According to her account -- and the neighbors back her up on this -- she has not left her apartment in 20 years, not since Hello, Larry was on.

"I just couldn't take that show," she told us.

Of course, 20 years ago she was capable of leaving her apartment. These days, however, she doubts that she'll ever see the outdoors again. Ms. Jimenez weighs just under 842 pounds.

"I blame it on the Twinkies," she explains. "That and the fact that I don't get up from the sofa more than once a day. If it weren't for the TV in the bathroom, I don't know what I'd do."

Unlike other people who claim to love TV, Rosaria doesn't have a fancy TV, or a lot of VCRs, or a DVD player. She doesn't even have cable. All she has is one console set with a pair of rabbit ears and an old black and white set for the toilet. She owns no shoes, only two house dresses, and has not bathed since viewing the second episode of Charlie Hoover in 1991. Ms. Jimenez recalls, "I just felt so dirty after seeing Sam Kinison in a Fox sitcom, I didn't even worry about being electrocuted, I had to shower."

We visited Rosaria in her apartment. She keeps the shades drawn and the windows shut. She sits on her sofa, moving very little -- stifling the occasional belch, scratching at the large patch of Candida albicans flourishing on her left thigh, unwrapping a Chocodile with one hand. It is difficult to get her attention as she is riveted to the TV screen. She doesn't channel surf, of course, having no remote control. Rosaria just chooses the channel she wants to watch once during the day when she gets up for her daily trip to the bathroom. On days when she doesn't get up, she just sticks with the channel from the day before.

And yet Rosaria Jimenez' life, circumscribed as it sounds, is rich and full. Once a week her Friends drop by. She sees her doctor on ER. The boys in NYPD Blue stop in to check up on her every so often. Like many other people, she wants to be a millionaire. And then there is her husband.

Seamus Jimenez isn't around much during the day. He spends most of his time working as a janitorial engineer at Fordham University, where his main responsibility is to paint the cast-iron fence surrounding the Rose Hill campus. It is almost two miles long. "When I reach where I started," Mr. Jimenez explains, "I find I have to start over again anyway, so I just keep on going."

We finally caught up with Seamus in the bedroom one night where he was reading a magazine titled Ebony Humpers. We asked him what he thought of his wife's obsession.

"Rosaria, her heart's good," Seamus told us. "She's always been very good to me. She loves that TV, though, don't she? Yes, she does. But she's got a good heart."

Probably dangerously enlarged, too, we noted.

"You don't know from enlarged," Seamus replied, holding up a particular spread in his magazine.

Mr. Jimenez cooks for Rosaria when he can, buys her groceries, and, most importantly, pays the electric bill for her TV. Rosaria, meanwhile, shows her love for her husband by devotion to such family shows as Touched by an Angel and Dharma & Greg.

We talked to Rosaria about her husband, her seven grown children, her life, loves, hopes, dreams, and ambitions. But more than that, we talked to her about TV. We'd reproduce the interview here except, well, most of it wasn't very interesting. Here's a sample exchange:

TeeVee: What makes you think you're really qualified to be America's True #1 TV Fan?

Rosaria Jimenez: Hush, Odd Man Out is on.

Another example:

TV: How does it make you feel when....

RJ: [whacks interviewer in head with handy broomstick]

Just one more for flavor:

TV: Sociologically speaking, television can be said to be a unifying force for our times. Since its inception, TV has provided a gathering point for the many disparate and far-flung threads of American society. It has helped give us a common language, a shared metaphor if you will, enabling vastly different people with unrelated cultural backgrounds and experiences to communicate across gulfs of custom and tradition. Although TV frequently fails to illustrate the realities of living in the American republic, it has however formed a conjunct basis from which all of us as a people extend our expectations of American life. It is this collective myth which could be argued to be the greatest of the contributions of the technology of television to our culture. As the most TV-saturated person on the planet, how do you feel about this?

RJ: It reminds me of something Richard Buckminster Fuller said in regard to the harmonizing influence of broadcast media such as television and radio. One of his anecdotes, which was related in great detail by Chuck Norris' character on last week's Walker, Texas Ranger, might be illustrative here. As told by Cordell Walker, Fuller was.... Hang on, Drew Carey is on.

TV: But would you....

RJ: [whacks interviewer in head with handy broomstick]

So Rosaria Jimenez has strong views about TV. Not just an idle viewer, she is involved. She is concerned. And she is watching. And watching. Always watching.

Ms. Rosaria Jimenez, we at TeeVee salute you. In truth, you are America's True #1 TV Fan, truly.


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