Saturday, June 14, 2014


My late husband and I always were notorious for wearing out televisions. After he retired, we became even more skilled at killing them off. He was a morning person and I’m a night owl, so he’d usually be getting up as I was going to bed. That meant the TV ran about 18 hours a day, seven days a week.

My husband also wore out remote controls on a regular basis because he was in the habit of changing the channels during every commercial, just in case he was missing a better program elsewhere. I’m pretty sure remotes weren’t meant to be used 50,000 times a day. Inevitably, the buttons on them usually ended up not popping back out after he pressed them.

So it came as no surprise a couple weeks ago when my TV, which is a little over five years old, started to shows signs of biting the dust. To be honest, I was surprised it hadn’t coughed and kicked up its feet (well, its TV stand) a long time before then.

I wandered into the electronics department of a large store a few days later and cornered one of the clerks.

“What does it mean when the TV screen starts to get gray streaks on it?” I asked him.

I could tell by his expression that the time had come for me to start picking out a headstone for my TV.

“It means your module is going,” he said. “It can be a gradual thing, where you’ll keep getting more and more streaks as time goes on. Or it can be sudden and the screen will just go blank.”

The thought of watching an exciting movie for two hours until nearly the end, when the detective says, “We’ve caught the murderer and his name is…” and having the screen suddenly go blank, prompted me to ask him what he’d recommend for a new TV.

“Well,” he said, “my preference would be the LG HD LED.”

I hadn’t heard that many letters used in once sentence since back when I was a toddler learning how to recite the alphabet.

“You watch a lot of sports?” he asked me.

I shook my head.

“Then you probably won’t need a Smart TV.”

“You’re saying I need a dumb one?”

He laughed. The trouble was, I was serious.

The TV he ended up selecting for me, based on my specific needs, was about $500.  He said, “I guarantee that ‘Wow!’ will be the first word out of your mouth when you watch it.”

I couldn’t remember the last time I’d actually said “Wow!” So I went home and decided I just might splurge and return to buy the TV. Alas, the next day, with fiendishly bad timing, my property-tax bill arrived in the mail. Suddenly the gray streaks on my current TV didn’t look all that bad to me.

A few days later I happened to be in another store and spotted the same TV…on sale for only $398.  I couldn’t resist. I bought it.

So there I was with a 42-inch TV in about a 100-inch box, stuffed into the back of my car. It wasn’t until I got home that I said to myself, “What the heck are you going to do with it now?”

I managed to drag it out of the car and into the breezeway before I grabbed the phone and considered dialing 911.  I soon learned, however, that getting the new TV into the living room wasn’t going to be my biggest problem. Removing the old TV was. It, according to the specs on the paperwork, weighed twice as much as the new one. I knew there was no way I’d be able to lift it from its current spot and then hoist the new one up there – not without my death certificate reading, “Cause of death: flattened by a TV.”

Luckily, my friends Nancy and Paul came to my rescue. Not only were they good at lifting things, Paul actually knew which of the 120 wires behind my TV connected to things like the satellite dish, my DVD player, my telephone line (I still live in the Dark Ages and need a land line to connect to Pay Per View) etc., without turning them into something that resembled the tangled mass of Christmas lights I have in a box in the basement.

After the new TV was all set up, Paul asked me what I was going to do with the old one. He, by the way, personally thought the gray streaks barely were noticeable.

I told him I’d probably put in under the “free stuff” listing on Craig’s List and then pray someone might want it.

His eyes lit up and he turned to look at Nancy. “We could use it,” he said. “It’s a lot bigger than the one we have now.”

“We don’t have room for it,” she said.

“We can make room!” he said.

I had visions of him taking a sledgehammer to one of their walls.

Nancy rolled her eyes and sighed. “Boys and their toys!”

Paul finally not only convinced her to let him have the TV, he also asked her to help him carry it out to their car, which was parked way out in the driveway. About a quarter of the way to the car, Nancy said her back was killing her and had to set down her end of the TV.  I was thinking it might be the perfect opportunity for her to “accidentally” drop the monstrosity, but she picked it up again and carried it the rest of the way.  My job was to open the doors for them and also the car door. In other words, I had the easy part.

So now I have my new TV, and the picture is so clear, I honestly can say I actually have said, “Wow!” quite a few times. I can see the freckles on an actor’s face or each of his individual nose hairs, even when I’m standing out in the kitchen. Which, I suppose, can be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending.

And I’m hoping my old TV will give Paul and Nancy a lot of use before it conks out on them. I have the feeling, however, that if the TV does die in the middle of a really good movie or a major sporting event, it just might mysteriously show up on my doorstep.


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