Gone 19 days, the TV is back home where it belongs and I am diminished by its return.
The welcome home lavished upon it dwarfed any reaction I’ve ever received, even the times when I come bearing gifts.
The children did euphoric little cartwheels across the carpet and Val’s relieved expression matched the look on Livvy’s face when John Walton came through the door after the harrowing winter evening that was the dramatic catalyst for the Walton’s Christmas special, “The Homecoming.”
It’s understood. My presents are trinkets compared to the evergreen gifts of a really good hi-def TV.
It has nearly 1,000 channels that bestow comfort, laughter, suspense and hours and hours of Disney wisdom.
The TV never scolds. It never corrects. It never tells the girls it’s time for bed. It never grosses them out with a really loud fart.
How can your average father expect to compete with that?
The TV plays so many leadership roles. It settles disputes. It unites us. It is our Speaker of the House.
Actually, with surround sound, it is our Five Speakers of the House.
No one would give a damn if the refrigerator or the washing machine went on the fritz. It wouldn’t tear at the social fabric of the family (but if the washing machine went down it would likely diminish some of the family’s other fabrics).
So when the TV goes down, we all feel it’s pain.
Worse, I knew the cure for the suddenly black screen could kill -- not the TV set.
That’s because once again I’d be dealing with Daryl, a man so mean he makes Dick Cheney seem cheerful.
I’d dealt with the old man before. He was rude, abrasive and tactless, a self-contained Axis of Evil so malevolent I felt like alerting the FBI.
I knew the broken TV meant he’d be poisoning my otherwise sunny days.
That’s just one sacrifice I make to support America’s Main Street businesses over the town-killing big box stores.
If your Best Buy TV breaks, you just drop it off at the store and two weeks later they tell you it’s fixed. It’s like sex with a hooker only without all the warranty issues.
But if you bought from a local reseller, you’re dealing with Daryl.
I wasn’t there five minutes when he insulted me.
“You’ve got a B.O. problem,” he said.
Impossible, I said. Old Spice has never failed me.
He explained he meant “back order.” He was messin’ with Sasquatch.
With atrocious bedside manners, he said, “This could take a long, long time.”
Still, it’s a hostage situation. I’m entirely at his misanthropic mercy.
I walk out of there dumbfounded how any man who spends his days healing sick TVs can be so unfeeling. Doesn’t he ever tune any of his myriad sets to the Lifetime Channel?
How can a man skilled at repairing 72-inch hi-def sets fail to see the big picture?
The situation was saved by one of life’s nifty little symmetries.
It was because of our dealings with the world’s most dyspeptic TV man we also got to better know one of the industry’s friendliest.
He’s Vince Zaccaria of Premiere Audio/Visual Services in Mt. Pleasant. It’s guys like him that are the reason I’ll always buy from local independents.
He’s so well regarded his home theater construction skills have been showcased with meathead ex-jock Tony Siragusa on the DIY Channel’s Man Cave shows. He’s done a bunch of them all over the East Coast.
So he’s a busy man. But when he heard we were without a TV he reacted like Ike Godsey did when one of The Walton kids got sick.
He brought medicine.
“I just felt so bad when I heard you were without a TV,” he said. “I couldn’t let you go all that time without one.”
He gave us a spiffy loaner and when Daryl finally said the TV was fixed, Vince was there within hours to hook it all up.
So an event that began with me confronting human nastiness ends with my family having the opportunity to bask in goodness, generosity and dazzling magnificence.
And I’m talking about the TV, not Vince.
Vince is nice and all.
But he’s no TV.