Television Is Bad For Your Health

Image: Cover art for The Feral Chicken of Clayton (and other essays)
Cover Art by Eric Maynard

(This essay is several years old and refers to my very patient and forgiving ex-wife. Enjoy.)

IT IS CURIOUS TO SEE how the male mind works. I had been married for several years, and during such time the size of the television had never been an issue. A 27″ television was quite large, and suited our needs well. However, upon finding myself single again (alas!), I found that the size of the television was a source of difficulty. It should be larger. I did not know why this should be, but there it is.

My recently departed spouse had left in such haste as to not have a television. Finding herself suddenly with extra time on her hands, she lamented this fact. I was sympathetic, and since I was eager to purchase a new one, sold her my current set. I delivered it myself, even carrying it up a flight of stairs. Such was my health and vigor – a manly man am I.

After doing some research, I decided a 36″ television would likely fit in my entertainment center. I investigated brands, features and availability. I finally went on a Saturday morning to make my final decision. Arriving at the store, I examined each set critically, from every angle. I had brought a tape measure to confirm the size. I prowled the aisles for over an hour before narrowing it down to 3 models, a Very Expensive, Slightly Expensive, and Merely Expensive. The best image was on the middle set – Slightly Expensive. I decided that it would be my first choice.

After locating a salesperson, I stated that I wished to purchase the Television.

Salesperson: (after 10 minutes of typing) “Oh, we’re out of stock on that model.”

Myself: “Curses! Well, how about this model?” (here I pointed to the Very Expensive set)

Salesperson: (after 10 more minutes of typing) “Nnnnope. That’s out of stock as well.”

Myself: “Amazing! How about this one?” here I pointed to the Merely Expensive set)

Salesperson: (With only slightly more typing) “Hmm… Yes! Oh wait, no. None in stock.”

Myself: “You do sell televisions here, correct?”

Salesperson: “Ha, ha! Yes – it’s funny that we have so many out of stock.”

He then smiled and shook his head – no doubt enjoying the total lack of inventory and the difficulties this presented for the meddlesome customers.

I was defeated. Of course, floor models were not available for purchase. The hours of research, the examination in-store, wasted. I was filled with despair. I shuffled away from the gleaming televisions, none of whom would be coming to my home that day. As I walked past the warm glow of the sets, several large boxes caught my eye. More TV’s? I approached them quickly, not daring to raise my hopes. Indeed, there were several sets off to the side – not connected to the store video feed. And joy! The inventory was sitting on the shelf! I soon discovered the reason – these were 35″ televisions. In fact, the set I had desired most was $400 less expensive in the 35″ model. Sold!

30 minutes later, I was driving home with a big box of television in the bed of my truck. I backed into my driveway, and was presented with the difficulty of removing the big box of TV intact. I soon made use of some maple boards I had in the garage, and carefully slid the box into the driveway. Although large, the box was manageable, and by a combination of dragging and tugging, got it into the living room without incident.

I unpacked the set in the proscribed method, essentially cutting the box away from the set. I then faced the challenge of lifting the set onto the entertainment center, a shelf approximately 18 inches off the ground. “No problem”, I thought, “for a big strong guy like me”.

I was concerned that I might injure my back, so I felt it would be best to roll the set into my lap, and then lift with my legs. I had previously used this technique with good effect on the previous television. While not effortless, it was certainly manageable. Shuffling the TV in front of the entertainment center, I started by pushing the set back, and putting my knees under the front edge. It bit painfully into my thighs. “Hmmm… kinda heavy.” I thought. “No matter – I’ll just be quick about it.” I then rolled the set into my lap.

At this point, I saw that I’d miscalculated. The weight not ‘manageable’, it was ‘massive’ — far, far greater than I had thought. So vast in fact, that I was suddenly in grave danger of losing control of the set as it teetered in my lap. Several thoughts came to my mind in that moment of panic. I would not be able to lift this set, that was clear, but I wondered; is this heavy enough to crush me? How long would I be missed if I were to be crushed under a television? How long would it be before my pets stopped thinking of me as ‘poor dead Master’, and started thinking of me as ‘food’?

The grim visage of my pets deciding that I might be edible focused my attention on the task at hand. I carefully lowered the set to the floor, and reflected with only small satisfaction that I might never know if the dog would prefer a live cat to a dead Master in a pinch. I would discover in the next few days two large, angry bruises on my thighs. I’ll just be quick about it, indeed.

I reassessed my TV lifting plans. Using my tape measure, I determined that the set base was 20″ deep. I rolled it onto its front, pushed it against the entertainment center, lifted the leading edge, and was able to ‘roll’ it up to the shelf. It marred the shelf slightly, but by now, that was an acceptable condition to me.

Perusing the manual, I saw that the set I’d presumed to be in the 100-110 pound range weighed 172 pounds. As I settled in to watch the nights entertainment, I was thankful that “Local man crushed by the weight of his own stupidity” would not appear.

~Joe Komenda

[Chapter 12 of The Feral Chicken of Clayton (and other essays)]

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