Friday, February 12, 2010

An Olympian Effort

People are surprised to learn that I don't watch TV...that we don't even OWN a TV. I do realize this has left me with a huge social handicap (it's not the first time this has happened in my life) in that I can't participate in conversation about the ending of that made-for-TV docudrama that was too frightening to watch and too intriguing to forget...heck, I don't even know which stars are dancing...or even why.

There's a logical backstory, and it has nothing to do with trying to raise my children in a pristine environment or coerce them into choosing creative endeavors instead of mind rot. No, the reasons are totally financial.

We had been using a relative's TV anyway, a hulking CRT that could do serious damage should it even tip over--which was likely, since the dang thing was so top-heavy. The kids, early elementary age at that time, would plop on the sofa in from of the tube and watch the most mind-numbing programming (OK, it was Pokemon. But I still reserve the right to call it "mind-numbing"). And we lived in this unenlightened style until one Thanksgiving. The TV was working fine that Tuesday; Wednesday evening we headed north to the grandparents for a long weekend. We returned on Sunday only to discover that Zenith had reached its nadir; during the long weekend, it had passed quietly from this world to the dump next. It went peacefully; it had no pain at the end.

There was, as expected, deep grief on the part of the under-30 set. But their father offered them the opportunity to memorialize the TV by getting a replacement. Only there was a catch: each kid had to cough up a $50 contribution to the cause, with us parents offering a matching grant towards the purchase of another Tube. The kids all nodded their heads solemnly in agreement with the plan.

It is eight years later. We are still waiting for them to amass the funds.

This post opened with a lie. I actually do watch TV. Only I do it for two consecutive weeks in alternate years and I limit myself to sporting events (probably because I lack any semblance of motor coordination; walking on level surfaces in flat shoes is a challenge, so I delight in living vicariously)performed by a cadre of international athletes.

I gotta watch the Olympics!

So this is my dilemma: no TV and a severe viewing need rising to a crescendo.

I was in a thrift store this evening, eying a small set (only $15!) and my daughter stared me down, shaking her head. I left the set there. And then I realized: we have a small set in our cabin, about 15 miles away, and I will be in that area tomorrow. Saved! Until my middle son reminded me of the significant snowfall and the very high probability that the dirt road to the place has not been plowed. This could be a 1/4 mile hike in drifts up to my knees, and then lugging the set back to the car. This could be serious effort, a good piece of work.

I think I can get it done in under 30 minutes.

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