Rita Howell Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Stimulus package leads to sawed off television cabinet

At last, Rupert and I have done our part to stimulate the economy.

We resisted the Blackberry. Refrained from the Wii. Held our ground when it came to upgrading our ride, our kitchen counters, our 15-year-old bedspread.

But last weekend, we bought ourselves a big flat-screen TV.

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There was nothing wrong with the old one, except that it was, well, old. Not a flat screen. More egg-shaped. And not 40 inches in diameter.

But the old one fit nicely in the cabinet we had searched for diligently a decade ago. The knotty pine entertainment center had been specially ordered to fit a corner of our living room. It came unfinished. Hours were spent carefully applying a stain I’d selected, then several coats of varnish. I liked it because it had doors which were kept closed whenever we weren’t watching the TV. The clean, uncluttered look of a TV-less living room appealed to me.

Whenever Rupert would suggest that we might want to consider getting a new TV, he would be reminded that the only place in our house to put one is in that corner in the living room, where the corner cabinet is, and we already have the biggest size television we can possibly fit in there.

Wouldn’t you know, he figured out a way around this dilemma.

He cut the top off the corner cabinet.

Just sawed it right off.

We now have a shorter entertainment center, neatly modified to accommodate the upgrade.

In dismantling the old DREKTV-VCR-DVD-wraparoundsound components to empty the cabinet so he could begin carving on it last week, we discovered miles of wires which had been stuffed behind the cabinet doors for eons. Every time we’d added a new accessory through the years, more wires were introduced to the mix. What we ended up with was a tangled mess, which I conveniently ignored, leaving Rupert to figure it all out as he installed the new TV atop the chopped-off cabinet on Saturday.

He’s the one who really wants this new stuff, I reasoned. I could have gotten along fine with the old one. I don’t watch much TV anyway.

Then he turned it on.

The first thing I laid my eyes on was the U.S. Figureskating Championships. It was breathtaking. So big. So clear. So colorful. Completely captivating. Rupert abruptly changed the channel and I protested loudly.

“Put it back, put it back.”

For the rest of the afternoon, I ignored the pile of dirty laundry and the kitchen chores and watched skating.

Then I discovered that the Miss America pageant would be televised that night. Whatever plans Rupert had for his new TV were overridden by my insistence that we should at least see if Miss Mississippi placed in the top 15.

She didn’t.

But we watched the entire pageant anyway. Saw every feather in Miss California’s swan costume, every perfectly aligned molar of Miss Indiana as she hit the final high note in her vocal performance, every particle of dust in Miss Hawaii’s belly button.

After the tearful winner was crowned, Rupert picked up the remote.

“Hand me the remote,” I demanded. “‘Sleepless in Seattle’ is coming on.”

So we ended the night with a chick-flick.

On Sunday I found more skating and another romantic comedy. I even watched a program on ETV about skunks.

Suddenly, I have a renewed interest in television. I haven’t watched this much TV since “Lassie” and “The Beverly Hillbillies” were on… the first time.

Maybe the “new” will wear off before I run out of clean clothes and Rupert runs out of patience.