Friday, December 23, 2011

TV or Not TV

It happened on Tuesday, December 20.  I was in the kitchen, cooking up a new batch of Hamburger Helper for the family (no joke!) when I heard a loud CRACK! shoot from the television in the living room.  And with that retort the television died.  The second such electronic death in our house in the past three months.

But I'm not complaining. 

Now that we have no easy access to a television, we are actually talking to each other.  I'm also writing more, and reading more.  Now that I have no History Channel, ESPN, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, or Turner Classic Movies--I'm feeling very Amish.  Sure, I still have this computer and my blog, but I've always regarded the computer--as well as my junk car, my junk phone, and my heavily-penciled calendar--as tools.  Tools help me to accomplish greater ends.  Tools are what sets us apart from the apes.  Tools are not entertainment--but items that fit the mind and the hand and help to "create" other experiences and means to even greater ends.

Over the years, of course, my wife and kids have chided me for writing on a fifteen-year-old computer or for driving a car with 175,000 miles on the odometer.  "When are you going to buy something that looks good?" they ask.

"Looks aren't important when it comes to tools," I tell them.  "Tools are utilitarian.  Tools are for getting me from one location to another, or from one word to another, one paragraph to another, so that I can create or complete a greater work.  Remember this, kids!"

That's why I'm loving this TV-less home.  I don't have to worry about wasting my time watching snippets of The Bing Bang Theory or a hockey game on ESPN.  I don't have to worry about frittering away valuable pieces of my evenings with a remote, searching for Man Vs. Food or Pawn Stars.  I can sit in silence, or the family can listen to me talking to myself while I write a short story or create dialogue.  I can recite poetry aloud, or return to the old times when I used to read bed time stories to my kids or allow them to hear my novels-in-progress.  I can ask my wife how to spell "hors dourves" and listen to her complain about not having a TV and why, in God's name, I fixed Hamburger Helper for seven consecutive meals and would it hurt me, just once, to cook a lousy piece of chicken!

"So," the kids want to know, "are we getting a new TV for Christmas?"

I'm still wrestling with this one.  A husband and father has to put his foot down sometimes and exercise the authority that is rightfully given to him by Almighty God.  That, or when the family rebels and threatens to buy a fifty-foot plasma TV with Blu-Ray and Digital Surround-Sound . . . and he caves.

I tell them I'm looking for a TV.  I'm hunting.  Trying to find the best value.  This is what real men do. 

But if I don't have a new TV under the tree in two days, look for me in the local cemetery.  I'll be the one buried in the freshly dug grave.      

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