Roberta Reporter, on the entertainment beat of a local newspaper, got the surprise of her life last night when she happened to be at an electronics store after closing time. It turned out that the TVs awaiting sale were throwing themselves a big bash to celebrate the 70th birthday of their family.
Roberta learned that it was in July of 1941 that commercial television was born. "A different world," opined a small TV sipping a Mai-Tai adorned with a colorful paper mini umbrella. "My grandfather said that in those days TVs were provided fantastic homes -- beautiful, comfortable wooden cabinets to live in. Not like today, where most of us just get shoved onto a stand."
"Or hung on a wall," a flat-screen TV said. She then added, "What I hate most about being a flat-screen model is being so skinny. Having to watch my weight all the time. Ridiculous." To emphasize her point, she reached for her third helping of shrimp and a generous portion of cheddar cheese and crackers.
"Then there's that deadly remote control," added one of the other TVs who had stopped momentarily from sipping beer and chewing pretzels. In a gloomy tone of voice he added, "It means that our owners get us set up and rarely get up from the couch to touch us again. Kind of sad."
The TV next to him wasn't so sure he agreed, "But in a way it's worse if they don't leave us alone. No privacy. Y'know, you're just sitting there doing your job, and they have to plug into us all sorts of electronic gizmos. A VCR or a DVD player, well, okay, not so bad. But is that enough for them? No way. The owners now insist on also connecting video games, computers, cameras, and just about everything else under the sun. It's all too much!"
When Roberta Reporter left the store that night, she had a lot to think about. There was what Groucho Marx once said, "I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." And what Ray Bradbury added to the discussion: "The television, that insidious beast, that Medusa which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little."
But most of all Roberta was thinking about what she had heard that night straight from the horse's mouth. Yikes! She needed a drink. Or two.
She headed for the nearest pub. One which advertised it had several of the latest-model, flat-screen TVs.