Alright, someone explain to me the TV Thing - specifically, the Giant TV Thing, the genetic impulse that's caught on during this luminous holiday season that's making everyone point their monster SUVs to the Giant Electro Store and obtain the largest, LCDest, most plasmalicious television they can afford, and by "afford," I mean, "pretty much not afford." (I'm seeing subprime mortgage people lurking outside Best Buy these days, clipboards in hand, wearing capes, I'm just saying.)
Alright, someone explain to me the TV Thing - specifically, the Giant TV Thing, the genetic impulse that's caught on during this luminous holiday season that's making everyone point their monster SUVs to the Giant Electro Store and obtain the largest, LCDest, most plasmalicious television they can afford, and by "afford," I mean, "pretty much not afford." (I'm seeing subprime mortgage people lurking outside Best Buy these days, clipboards in hand, wearing capes, I'm just saying.) You could fill libraries with the stuff I don't understand, but this particular shopping development has been troubling me ever since I realized I needed a column idea about eight minutes ago. But as what is apparently the last member of my immediate circle of friends to not have a television with the power and authority to order missile strikes on Iran and/or see through the fabric of time, I'm starting to think that the problem is me, and that the problem can only be remedied by spiraling further into debt in pursuit for a TV of absurd proportions so I can, I don't know, see in glorious, incandescent realism several Choirs which will be Clashing. Part of the issue is that 1. I am embarassingly cheap, and 2. I believe my current TV is just fine, if admittedly a little older, and by "a little older" I mean "what is evidently one of the 10 to 20 most elderly televisions in America." People come by to gaze through my window in slack-jawed wonder, guests huddle in the corner snorting to themselves, judging me. Somewhere, on whatever giant interactive map the Nielsen people use to track who's watching "Two And A Half Men" at any given time, there's a massive red circle drawn around my house with a clown face next to it. Yet my giant, 4,000-lb. non-LCD plasma-free HD-less TV, which was purchased in 2001 - or, in TV terms, too bowel-clenchingly old to even begin considering talking about in adult company - is just fine for my needs, which are basically to put on a confounded "Bob the Builder" movie whenever commanded by my often tyrannical ruler of a son, even if the command happens to come in the fourth quarter. (Somewhere, incidentally, there's a parallel universe where the local review boards are going nuts about all the development Bob is responsible for, but I'm pretty sure that part's not on PBS Kids). And it's not like I haven't tried to understand the Giant TV Thing; I recently went so far as to ask the reigning IT wizard/technophile/nerd at the office - a man who can literally assume control of my computer at will and whose most recent TV purchase came all the way back in Christmas 2006 - what the possible reason could be for upgrading something that he could not possibly have broken yet, since he does not own a toddler who regards the television as the most convenient local item to tap with the hammer I can't seem to hide good enough (I'm 32. Seriously, it's ridiculous.) Now this is a good guy, a smart guy, a guy who knows his stuff, and yet when we began talking about his primal need for a confoundingly large television something happened to his eyes, where the usual retina/iris thing (I skipped much of biology) was replaced by a sliver of cold blue steel, where small bolts of lightning could be seen going off in the corneas, while outside ominous clouds started rolling in out of nowhere and the lights in the newsroom dimmed noticeably. And when I asked him about the TV thing, he looked at me with the kind of patronizing, almost empathetic dismissal that would have made one think that I had just asked him why he felt it necessary to remove a bright orange vestigial tail from his forehead. "Because," he began, and that was about the last English word I heard, as at this point his monologue deteriorated pretty quickly into a series of four-digit numbers. 1080 was the only one I could make out, although he might have been talking about his address, or the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia, which that year gained independence after its founder, Prince Ruben, succeeded in establishing his authority in the mountainous regions of Cilicia, and I totally did not even Wikipedia that, so don't bother checking. Oh, his was a great and powerful discourse, one full of figures and acronyms and slowly beading forehead sweat and something about why it was essential to the continued operation of his respiratory system that he see the Optimus Prime/Megatron battle at the end of "Transformers" in glorious high-def (Optimus wins, spoiler alert), but I have this problem where I tune out pretty quickly if it's evident that I have no idea what in the blue blazes a person is talking about (it's the primary reason I stopped listening to Mitt Romney, and going to church). The Lord - and probably Optimus Prime - knows that I am not against gadgetry, nor the lively and needless accumulation of same; Apple comes out with an iPod that's exactly the same as my iPod and is eight molecules lighter and has a slightly light shade of grey on it, I'm there. Bang. It's pathetic. I embarass myself. Yet I'm also OK with it. I mean, listen, no one here is arguing against giant fighting robots, but the question is, are giant fighting robots worth several hundred thousand dollars? The answer is simple: It depends on if it turns into an iPod. Jeff Vrabel is a freelance writer who is totally pulling for Nick Lachey's choir. He can be reached at www.jeffvrabel.com.