Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Giant Pitcher Box

For most of my life, I had a 13" television. That was fine; in fact, I sort of liked the fact that television vs. reality was so easy to differentiate. And nothing is that scary on a 13" screen! When my last 13" died, my parents decided it was time for me to lurch forward a few decades, and they bought me a 19" television. It looked huge to me ... but eventually I got used to it. I even came to appreciate the bigger screen; I could actually read words and messages when they were displayed. And now I have pole-vaulted ahead once again with the purchase of The Monolith: the 42" Samsung behemoth. Again, I have to admit that viewing is much more pleasurable, especially for movies. The most important thing to me, though, was that it fit into my entertainment armoire, so that I can close the doors on it when I'm not watching. I've always hated big televisions that just sit there like a silent bystander, eavesdropping on every conversation.

The worst example -- it still stands out in my memory some 30+ years later -- belonged to someone I knew when I was in high school. Mike M. had a day job with the street department. His side line was .... recreational substance procurement. I liked him okay, but I was really in love with his dog. Spanky was a little black and white Australian shepherd mix., a 20 lb. mutt. He went almost everywhere with Mike, and he was like one of those old-time circus act dogs. Spanky would leap, twirl, flip himself into Mike's arms, or sit like a parrot on Mike's massive shoulder.

Mike was a guy with a lot of disposable income and not very much taste. He was a dim bulb, but at least smart enough to avoid drawing attention to himself. He drove an old truck, and lived in a small bungalow in a rather dicey neighborhood. His only indulgence was a great big television and a very good stereo. But Mike lived in fear of someone breaking in and stealing these treasures, so he built what I called The Coffin. It was probably six feet long, four feet high, and maybe three feet deep. The corners were solid 4x4s. He cut holes into the plywood front for the television, receiver, tape player, etc., and bolted everything in. No one was ever going to walk out with those items. And it was backlit! Mike's version of an aesthetic feature, I suppose, but it made it look like an altar -- an altar to bad taste. It really was one of the stupidest, ugliest things I've ever seen, and I've known ever since that I would either have a very small television, or one that could be hidden behind doors, or both.

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