You can read The History of Television — Part I directly below this post.
Fast forward to the 1980’s.
They say cable television was invented in 1948 or 1950, but I think they are lying. I think that Wikipedia entry in the History of Television has been put there to test us, to see if we are paying attention, to see if we are exercising our critical analysis skills, because if cable existed in the early ‘80s I never saw it. They must have been hiding it in some lab. But the technology had improved in many areas.
We now had color TV — black and white had been consigned to the museum — Good Riddance — you could see the picture at night, there was no crackle in the audio, I almost never had to jiggle the antenna wire, and I no longer had to watch potato farming and Gumby on Sunday mornings. But entropy was conserved with the preachers. Gone were the small town preachers, replaced by televangelists who were everywhere. In addition to being on TV all Sunday morning, they were on at night too.
Televangelists practiced the old adage “Do as I say, Not as I do.” For example, they would tell us to live the moral life and never ever have sex out of wedlock or betray someone’s trust or be greedy, while they met their mistresses in seedy motels, ripped off old ladies of their life savings, and spent it all on wine, women, and gaudy theme-park churches. I don’t know how they managed it, but somehow they found a way to extend the collection plate through the TV screen into the living room.
But I lived in Las Vegas at the time, so it wasn’t a total loss. Vegas is pacific time, which meant football started at 9 AM and didn’t end until 2 PM. And the one thing a televangelist cannot and better not do is mess with football.
And the TVs were bigger too, which meant the cathode ray tubes were even bigger and heavier. Which brings me to my FRIEND. She had just moved into her new house and needed a FRIEND or two to move a few pieces of furniture around. So she calls me, her FRIEND, and asks me if I wouldn’t mind coming over Saturday at 10 AM to move her TV from downstairs to upstairs. It won’t require much because her brother-in-law will be helping too, and he’s 6’ 4” tall and 250 pounds. Remember that part about it not requiring much. So like an idiot I say...
SURE. I’ll be there at 10.
At 10 in the morning I walk into her new two-story duplex, meet her brother-in-law who is all of 6’ 4” and 250 lbs and more, and then look at the T.V. Now THEY say the heaviest TV ever manufactured was 750 lbs, but THEY had obviously never come to my FRIEND's house to weigh hers. If I had been blind I'd be swearing to this day we had lifted one of the anchors on a Nimitz class aircraft carrier. There it sat against the wall, a piece of finely finished furniture with a 32 inch TV screen and a CRT the size of a boulder daring me to try. If it had been a person, it would have had its fists up daring me to try. If it had been a crab, it would have had its claws extended daring me to try. If it had been a shark, it would have had it mouth open staring at me with those dead eyes daring me to try.
But what could I do? I had promised. We were FRIENDS.
Oh, and did I tell you we both — me and her brother-in-law — had bad backs. I mean before we lifted it.
Now, I can hear you all saying, what’s the big deal? Just slide it over to the stairs, then slide it up lifting the front end only long enough to get it over each step.
Nay, Nay! I say. This piece of furniture was finely finished furniture, which is to say it had legs — fragile, delicate, diaphanous, wood-carved legs. Which is to say we had to lift it up the entire flight of stairs. And these weren’t one of those stairways that have a landing halfway up where you can put the TV down and rest. No, this stairway was one long stairway. The kind of stairway that says, don’t bring anything heavy up here.
Now, I was pretty cocky back then and therefore undeterred. Although I was only i75 pounds, I could bench press 300, and so I figured I was going to show this TV a thing or two. But you know what I learned? I learned that bench presses don’t help you lift squat. Squats help you lift squat, and I’d never squatted a day in my life. Nor had I done any deadlifts.
But we managed to lift and carry the TV from hell all the way to the foot of the stairs, then set it down and nurse our backs and rest. We procrastinated for about a half hour more out of dread of what was to come than out of any real need to rest. But you can only procrastinate for so long.
Then we did the impossible. We got it upstairs somehow, both of us the worse for the effort. He took the lead while I took up the rear, our bad backs bent over the entire way. I almost fell down the stairs twice when he pushed instead of pulled, and he almost fell back twice when I pushed when he wasn’t expecting it. Both of us screamed for mercy and God’s help all the way up, while she — my FRIEND — screamed the entire time at both of us to be careful and to stop banging it into the wall.
Lucky for us, the anchor fit through her bedroom door. I say lucky because none of us geniuses bothered to measure the entryway width before carrying this … this … this thing up. I wonder what it would have been like lifting this finely finished piece of furniture at a 45-degree angle to the door to jigger the fragile, delicate, diaphanous, wood-carved legs around the door frame.
Once we got the boulder through the door and plopped it down in front of her bed, we collapsed onto the floor gasping for breath and worrying if our backs would ever be the same. While we were recovering, my FRIEND assessed the lay of the land. She stepped back a distance to the left toward me looking at the TV all the while nodding and tapping her foot on the floor saying hummm. Then she walked all the way over to the right toward him looking at the TV all the while nodding and tapping her foot on the floor saying humm. Then she stood in front of the TV all the while nodding and tapping her foot on the floor saying Humm. Then after a pregnant pause she said . . .
TAKE IT BACK DOWN.
Both of us got up, walked downstairs, and left without saying a word. I don’t know about him. He was her brother-in-law and I guess was stuck with her. Me? She was no longer my FRIEND. But I did start doing heavy squats the next day.
The moral of the story: If you want to keep your friends, don’t ask them to help you move.