Don’t know what you’ve got…
…’til it’s gone. Two Christmases ago, Santa brought us a flat screen TV. It was a marvelous thing, and seemed to take up an entire wall. Of course, it didn’t, but it’s a small room, so the TV seemed larger than life. The TV we had in the living room at the time (which has similar dimensions as our coffee table and was freecycled to us after someone upgraded) was relegated to the man cave. This really is a cave – our basement is unfinished: you can still see bark on the trees that comprise the ceiling beams, which may very well date back to the 1880s when the house was built. Currently the wii (that Santa brought the next Christmas) is hooked up to the coffee-table TV, as well as an older cable box (no DVR).
It wasn’t long before our marvelous flat-screen TV was “damaged.” The Bigs were throwing Jenga blocks and one hit the TV, leaving a colorful mark behind.
“He did it!” one of them accused the other.
“It doesn’t matter who did it. You were both throwing the blocks so I hold you equally responsible.”
Apparently they had been throwing their best pitches, because the TV was scarred – the mark didn’t fade. They had to look at a colored splotch every time they watched. Over time, the scar grew until it was a vertical line on the right side of the TV. Then several vertical lines, then horizontal lines as well, and finally, when the TV became unwatchable, I removed it from the living room. (The Jenga game had long since been removed from our household altogether, though I did continue to unearth pieces from time to time.) The Bigs were probably relieved that it was gone: having no TV in the living room was less embarrassing in front of their friends than having to answer when they asked, “Dude, what’s wrong with your TV?”
Besides the man cave, there’s a TV upstairs in my room (another cast off), again with an older cable box. (I don’t even know how DVR works.) Whenever we had “Family Movie Night,” it was upstairs, since I did not enjoy spending time in the man cave. The problem with that was that I really don’t want kids eating snacks in my room and I was tired of the jockeying for position – which often culminating in pillow fights – that trashed my room as things escalated.
So, after more than two years, I decided it would be a good time to put a TV back in the living room. But not a new TV – I borrowed an old, no-frills 19-inch TV from our neighbor, that has no remote (and won’t work with the cable remote), so you actually have to push a button on the TV to turn it on. Can you imagine? I remember turning a knob, which was also the volume control, to power on a TV. “Yes, we did have TV’s when I was a kid,” I assured my children. “They even had them when Grandma was a kid.” I had gone to the local cable office and picked up a new cable box (with DVR: the matronly customer service agent assured me if I could use a VCR, which I no longer have but do remember how to use, I could figure out the DVR. And I supposed if she could do it, so could I.)
Well, after two years of going without, my boys were thrilled. They did point out that the color was not the same as on our other TVs. “It’s like, black and white, Mom…”
“Boys, this is not at all like black and white.”
“…But that’s okay,” they were quick to assure me, lest they appear ungrateful.
The first night we watched, the four of us sat like sardines on the love seat watching “The Laughing Show” (America’s Funniest Home Videos).
An added bonus is that I had to move the furniture around so the TV could be placed near the cable outlet and now there’s a couch blocking the double-wide doorway through which the kids used to race cars, play soccer, and run before they took a flying leap onto the couch, ramming it into the wall: the configuration of the couches seems to keep everybody blissfully contained in that particular area.
Thus it came to pass that my children would be grateful for a little old box TV in our living room. (I told The Bigs it’s their job to figure out the DVR.)