When I last bought a TV set for our family room, my eldest son was not quite 4 and he had to ask me before he was allowed to turn it on.
When that once state-of-the-art 36” Mitsubishi housed in an oak cabinet would no longer turn on no matter who tried, we replaced it. But being that it took 22 years, I now have to call my son to figure out how to get the sound to work.
I can at least turn it on myself. My husband is still figuring out how to do that, between the three remotes and the receiver, whatever that is. And apparently the sound isn’t working correctly because we haven’t yet installed our center speaker … or is it a middle speaker? Woofer?
We also haven’t yet installed the television, exactly. The beautiful old set used to sit on the floor, as God intended. This new thing seems to hang in space, but since we have no place to hang it, we ordered a new shelving unit. It has not arrived, so we placed the new TV on its stand on top of the old TV. Can you picture it?
I think it makes the old TV sad and jealous. It makes me miss the old TV more.
Years ago, various friends and relatives began laughing at our antique set, asking when we were going to replace it with a flat screen. For a while I said, honestly, “when it breaks.”
Then it broke. It was really bad timing and I didn’t have the time, inclination or cash flow to get a new, expensive TV. So I called a TV repairman. (Yes, Virginia, there still is a TV repairman.)
For the relatively small sum of $300, he fixed the set. I could have hugged him. Meanwhile, he told me many people are surprised he still exists, and that the set he fixed – the first “big” tube TV, the 36” Mitsubishi, was the most popular set he fixed. He couldn’t guarantee how long the fix would last – months, years maybe. At the time I didn’t care, he’d revived my TV.
That was 5 years ago. Not bad.
In recent months, both of my sons have been telling me that the TV’s color wasn’t looking right. That the picture was fading. I just ignored them, as usual. My husband, thankfully, isn’t too concerned about TV and didn’t mind, either.
So last month, when he tried to turn on the TV and told me he couldn’t, I just laughed and figured he wasn’t using the new cable remote correctly. Turns out, he was right. (Has to happen occasionally.) The TV wouldn’t turn on.
“Probably the picture tube,” we laughed, showing our age.
I waited a day or two, just to be sure it REALLY wouldn’t turn on, then texted the kids. “I think the family room TV has finally died. I thought you should know.”
They responded characteristically.
“Finally!” said the eldest son, the one who helped us (read “chose it himself”) pick a new TV.
“Awwww … I LIKED that TV,” said the youngest, a girl who apparently takes after her mother more than she’ll admit.
No response from the younger son. Not unusual.
So, we went about the hassle I’d avoided for years … I called someone to reconstruct our old shelves to accommodate a new TV. Our son sat with us looking at TVs online, then called to order it for it, speaking a language the sales guy understood.
He actually thanked our son for calling and told him it was a pleasure dealing with someone who knew what he was talking about. “You have no idea what I usually have to go through,” he said, referring to his usual job working with people like my husband and I who haven’t bought a new TV since you could buy one speaking plain English.
The TV arrived and our son came over to set it up. He rarely comes over to visit, but for some reason couldn’t wait to see the new TV. He actually remembered which day it was going to be delivered – the young man who does not use a calendar and never knows when anything is going to happen – and asked if I needed help setting it up. Help, ha!
He came over and did what he’d been doing since he was about 10 – put it together. The guy who usually can’t get out of the house fast enough was agonizing over why the receiver wasn’t turning off using the TV remote. Whatever, I said, I’ll turn them both off.
“No!” he said. “That’s not the way it’s supposed to work!” Luckily, I didn’t find the problem with the sound until after he left.
So after all this … after 22 years of enjoying the early 1990s version of the latest TV, after I started to get used to using three remotes instead of one, I opened the newspaper. (The newspaper – remember those?)
I’d already heard in a TV interview that Steve Jobs had wanted to reinvent and simplify the TV set before he died. “I wish he had!” I whined to my husband. I’ve had and loved Apple computers since 1988.
But this day, the newspaper had a story that perhaps Jobs DID invent a TV before he died. One may be in production in China. A rumor, sure, but that’s how the iPhone and iPad started. There’s a TV out there made by Apple that is going to make SENSE.
I wait 22 years to replace my TV and a better one is coming out made by Apple?! Oh, the irony.
So, now what? The cabinets arrive and if I can bear to part with it, the old Mitsubishi will be completely unnecessary and out the door. Then I spend the next few months figuring out how I can put that new TV somewhere else and wondering whether Apple’s new TV will fit in my new shelving unit.
Meanwhile, the flat screen is so complicated, I’m just watching the shows I enjoy on my Apple laptop.