Thursday, August 07, 2014


If I said that it was as big as a bread box, it probably wouldn't mean that much. That's because the use of bread boxes as conveniences has become somewhat archaic. What do you do with a bread box? Don't most people keep their bread in the refrigerator? And as it turns out, bread boxes aren't some very specific and scientifically calibrated size. This particular designation is a bit anachronistic and unspecific, but it was the first thing that popped into my head. It would also be useful if I told you what "it" I was talking about before I proceed: My television set.
This was the second television set that was bought specifically with me in mind. The first one was a portable Panasonic AM/FM radio/black and white television that I had in my room the year after I graduated from high school. The second one was the very flashy color set that I received as a housewarming present from my parents on the advent of moving into my second apartment. As I was living alone, initially, I could no longer presume on my roommates for television. I needed to be TV sufficient all on my own. My parents did me the favor of buying me a GE cable ready remote control set. That whole cable ready thing was the fascinating part for me, who had grown up adjusting antennae and twisting knobs for tuning. This thing was going to give me up to ninety-nine channels with just the push of a button. Or a bunch of pushes, since there was no way to put a particular number into the remote. If you wanted to move from channel eight to channel seventy-two, your finger could get quite a workout. But that didn't matter as long as I knew that i had access to the wealth of video choices that was pouring into my bachelor pad. I wanted my MTV, and now I finally had it.
Over the years, I moved that simulated wood grain box from apartment to apartment, and eventually it came with me to California, where it eventually became the bedroom TV in the household I set up with my incipient wife. I hooked up all kinds of different components to that set over the years: VCRs, laser discs, Sega Genesis consoles. Each time we upgraded our television profile, that set from 1982 held steady as our base. It eventually found a home on top of our refrigerator as the kitchen TV, just a few feet away from the bread box that never contained bread, just a wide variety of vitamin supplements. In all those years, it kept doing its job, until one day, it was finally moved out to the basement. Even though it was still in working condition, it was a tiny cathode ray tube that couldn't compete in a flat-screen world.
It spent an ignominious few years holding up a pile of detritus that was the drift of things that moved from being most useful and important to the category of discard. We didn't set it out on the curb during all the time that someone might have adopted a free cable ready TV. It was too special.
Until it finally wasn't. This past weekend, it went away in a carload of stuff we no longer needed. That television was never something that I needed. I could have done without it. But I didn't. I dragged it halfway across the country and held onto it for thirty years. Now that it's gone, I miss it. More than a bread box.

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