12/12/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Post-Election: Call it Decompression

He did the strangest thing last night: He turned the TV off.

There he was, still in the early part of the evening, with another hour or two of political shows still ahead of him -- updates and interviews and analyses and predictions -- and he reached for the remote and chose...

Silence. Blessed silence.

Don't get the wrong idea -- he wasn't shutting the world out completely. By that point in the evening, he'd already watched the network news, and something from the BBC, and Jim Lehrer. (He couldn't miss Jim Lehrer, could he?) He'd already read a newspaper or two, and part of a magazine, and surfed the net, and listened to NPR. Twice.

So he wouldn't exactly call himself unplugged. Saturated would be more like it. For the first time in -- well, who can even remember how long it's been? -- he found himself saturated. Sated. He suddenly preferred not watching to watching.

Who can even remember the last time he wasn't scarfing down every available bit of that amazing race for the White House? He can barely think of a time when there wasn't a campaign going on. And on. And on. And every minute of it absolutely compelling, fascinating, must-see TV.

That article a day or two ago that mentioned some semi-significant something that somebody had said way back in July of 2007? He'd been watching when it happened. That brief reference somewhere to some all-but-forgotten twist in the campaign trail so many months ago? He'd been watching when it happened -- and he hadn't come close to forgetting it.

But for last night? For the rest of last evening? He had finally had enough. The election was over, after all. He'd already done afterglow. He'd already done excuses. Also celebrating, recriminating, appointing, finger-pointing...

He could certainly take another spin around the dial: CNN. MSNBC. Fox. But he already knew all the news he needed to know, and at least for the moment, he had no appetite for the special seasonings each of them would surely be sprinkling onto the latest headlines. He --

Not true.

He peeked at Olbermann. He clicked the TV on midway through Olbermann, just to make sure nothing earth-shattering had happened while his guard was down. Five minutes, tops -- that's all it was. Just to make sure. Just to...

Where were we?

He had almost no appetite for the special seasonings each of them would surely be sprinkling onto the latest headlines. It was time to try something different.

But what? That was the question. This sudden block of uncommitted, middle-of-the-evening time staring him in the face -- no polls to peruse, no ads, no electoral maps -- and he was totally out of practice!

What, he asked himself, do non-obsessive people do? And an answer finally came to him: They can read books.

So he opened a book and started reading -- and not just for a few slapdash minutes before bedtime, but for the entire rest of the evening. It felt so strange. It felt so nice.

It was a book about FDR's first 100 days. You weren't expecting him to go cold turkey, were you?

Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at