One thing of note has happened for our family during the past few weeks that my daughter will probably remember for a long time.
We replaced our TV.
My great-aunt bought me a TV the summer of ’91. It had a 16′ screen encased in one of those huge black boxes with a “handle” that bit your hand down to the bone, but allowed the manufacturer to lay claim that it was “portable”. It weighed a ton.
In my family of origin we don’t replace an appliance until it stops working so it never occurred to me to upgrade. Visitors would come to our house and quietly stare at the set. Once we had a pastor offer us the brand new TV of a recently deceased church member and we were astonished. Incredulous, we declined the offer and thought “Now why offer us that?” But once my daughter starting having little friends over, they in their youthful innocence would exclaim “THAT’S your TV!” – we started to get it.
People thought our TV was old.
Having tasted the first fruits of media technology at her friends’ houses my daughter began a campaign explaining how due to the decrepitude of our timeworn TV, that it could not accept a Wii, which was our loss.
I asked her if there was sewing Wii or knitting Wii, to which she said “No”, and I replied, “Then how much fun could a Wii be?”
Because by that time my husband and I liked our old TV and wondered how long it would last. It became a curiousity.
As so often with a beloved elderly pet the final illness began with mild but relatively untroubling symptoms. The screen began showing a dark line at the top and bottom. Since rented DVD’s always showed up in this letterbox format we didn’t especially notice when both TV shows and DVD’s began looking the same. My husband remarked that “Damn, somehow it has gotten reset for letterbox!” Too lazy to delve deeper we thought nothing of it.
Then the “letterbox” began to shrink. This was mildly bothersome but I largely ignored it. My family grumbled a bit but I was learning to live with the restriction. Then one night watching a BBC fantasy/drama show called “Merlin” I noticed to my family, “Boy all of these actors sure have gained weight since last season. Especially that Morgana. She looks downright short and pudgy. Maybe they should change up her wardrobe from all of those medieval-ey dresses.”
The young actress/model who plays Morgana in reality is tall and slender, however when viewed through a 4 inch screen her figure had changed remarkably. She looked like a dome, her head abnormally small for her waistless triangular form. Sadly I thought, “Her runway days are over!” Right upon the heels of that sad pronouncement another niggling thought emerged - it just might be the TV.
Taking this new information in I explain to my family that ever since broadcast switched to HD it has changed the TV screen. You see we have an old TV and it can’t “read” those kind of airwaves. ” You see it’s those new airwaves, not our old TV.
Astounded by the glib scientific acumen of an English major, my husband stared at me for a second and then uttered the sad truth that would break through my denial. “The picture tube is going bad.”
The picture tube. . . . . . . You don’t say.
It took a few days for me to make peace with the reality of the situation but it was either a new TV or resigning myself to our screen distorting actors into increasingly extreme images of shortness and pudginess. Even though I felt a little guilty since the TV still technically “worked” (my husband asked me what I considered working to mean) I finally gave the OK to purchase a new set. Upon announcement it became clear to me that my family had wanted to put the old TV set out of our misery for weeks.
Lest I in a burst of nostalgia change my mind, my husband hustled the family into the car and off we sped to our local big box appliance store. The TV’s are now so flat and clear and lightweight. In just twenty minutes my husband popped one set onto his shoulder and off we went to the cash register. My daughter asked for a Wii seventy-five times on the ride home. (She is now using fitness Wii as an inducement as she knows I am still working off those pregnancy pounds. Clever child. Still no Wii.)
We get home, turn it on and Voila! It is beautiful and all the sweeter for the wait. The picture and sound are terrific. No more squinting at tiny misshapen images. But you know, for me I am still getting used to it. Having grown attached to seeing their shorter and pudgier versions the actors have returned to being consistently enviably tall and thin. Every time I turned on the old set I was reminded of the loved one who purchased it. All of those comments about how outdated it was, made me laugh to myself and reconnect to the value of frugality passed down from my great-aunt.