That blank TV screen over there is ours. It's been like that for four days now … and not for lack of trying to turn it on.
See, we bought a Toshiba DLP television set in 2004. It has a nasty habit, about once a year, of blowing the light bulb that provides the picture. This time we replaced the bulb, but it still doesn't work. That means the problem may be the "ballast," whatever that is, which we replaced about 2 years ago. (I don't know how much the situation has improved, but if you're shopping for a Toshiba TV, be sure to check out the consumer satisfaction reports.)
The worst part of having a broken TV is realizing how much we depend on it.
I hate that. Because it blows my delusions. We used to say, "We don't watch that much TV." And we don't ... if you're talking about current TV. A little Jeopardy, a little news, the occasional David Letterman or SNL, if there's a guest we're interested in.
What we have found, since we got our problem TV, is that our family of four does watch a lot of "pre-recorded" TV. DVDs of favorite movies, rentals from Netflix, episodes of classic TV shows like The Twilight Zone, the Honeymooners and The Andy Griffith Show. (Yes, we're very retro.)
It's a little alarming to discover how tough it can be to spend a family evening at home without That Box. On the plus side, TV is something we share -- we don't go to separate corners of the house and watch separate sets. But we never realized how much the television acts as a social center for our family. Board games are great, but sometimes they take a little more "oomph" than my husband and I have at the end of the day. And I love to read, but when everyone's together, it feels kind of antisocial. We've yet to try sitting in a circle, all ensconced in our own books.
Instead, the other night we found ourselves in front of the computer, searching YouTube for old TV commercials featuring Muhammad Ali, while I read selections from a book of David Letterman's Top 10 lists. We went to bed early.
The next day my husband and I were out for a walk. I asked him, "What did people do at night back in the '40s?"
"Listened to the radio."
"Okay. What did they do in the '20s?"
"Scrubbed clothes on a washboard. Came home late from the factory. Drank bathtub gin."
The TV repairman is scheduled to come today. If it's not good news ... anybody got a recipe for bathtub gin?