The Beast

Besides the evening news and the occasional documentary or – rarely – a movie, I don’t watch a lot of television. So when my youngest casually mentioned that a friend of his was giving him a TV his family didn’t want any more, I didn’t think too much of it. Until it showed up.

This Toshiba rear-screen projection behemoth that took two strapping guys to carry into my home was not an electronic device. It was comparable to one of those roadside billboards you see on your drive home that tells you to boil your water before consuming it.

Standing over four feet high with an almost five-foot width and two-foot depth to accommodate the cathode-ray tube, hubby and son slowly rolled it into the house (yes, it’s on wheels), taking care to avoid making eye contact with me.

The 51-inch screen and built in speakers all housed in black plastic with sharp aluminum highlights sat on the floor with all the charm of a rock in a soccer field. It blocked out half the window that looks into my back yard. It was wearing my living room.

“You gotta be kidding me,” I said. And probably swore.

But the final kicker came when I realized that the technology was so old, you couldn’t see what was on the screen unless you were sitting directly in front of it. As soon as you moved to about a 30 degree angle, the image disappeared and the blank screen mocked me.

“Get it out of here,” I said. More than once. But by that time, the beast had settled in. My nice, proportional and unassuming flat screen TV was moved to the basement for the kids’ gaming system after they told me the beast was incompatible with their toys. We were stuck with each other.

If I can say one positive thing about the abomination, it had really good stereo sound. And subtitles would come on the screen whenever you muted it, leading me to discover I’d been singing the lyrics wrong to more than one TV commercial. Okay, that’s two things.

When Christmas rolled around and we made our wish lists, mine had only one written in bold black Sharpie – “A new TV!” But hubby convinced me it would be better to wait for the post-holiday sales.

I tried bargaining with my youngest who likes to take things apart, and reminded him he once made a death-ray with a Fresnel lens similar to the ones used in rear-projection TVs. Mounted in a wooden frame, you can concentrate the sun’s rays into an over 1000-degree C spot, setting things on fire instantly.

“I still have it,” he said. “I don’t need to make another one.”

The New Year brought in a rebate cheque from the previous 12 months of shopping at my local big-box outlet and lo and behold, TVs were on sale. This past weekend, the beast was unceremoniously rolled away, new flat screen installed, and I was able to move two large pieces of furniture back into their rightful spots in the living room.

Hubby began phoning one of the many area donation centres to rehome the beast but even though it’s still in perfect working order, perhaps unsurprisingly, none are interested. It’s currently standing sentry in my garage, silently judging me.

If anyone out there can offer a good home to an obsolete but still functional TV with excellent stereo sound, give me a call. I’ll roll it down the driveway right into your heart.