By Pettus Read
It was your typical Tennessee early winter afternoon when I pulled in the long gravel driveway of Uncle Sid and Aunt Sadie’s farm. The hills behind their house were showing the signs that winter had arrived with leafless trees forming chorus lines of skeleton shapes against dark clouds hanging near the couple’s house.
Uncle Sid’s house was sporting something new on the white-frame home’s roof. Located just at the roof’s edge and on the overhang was a brand new satellite dish that sort of looked out of place due to the yesteryear look of the rest of the house. I knew they had been using an antenna ever since television arrived back in the 1950s, and the last time I made a visit they were still using the first color TV that had ever been seen in these parts. Evidently, something had changed, and Uncle Sid and Aunt Sadie were now experiencing digital HD television-watching.
Aunt Sadie met me at the front door, wiping her hands on her apron as usual, and led me to the back portion of their house where the old couple spends most of their time. There, sitting in the family room in his cane back rocker was Uncle Sid watching “The Price Is Right” on a huge flat-screen TV. The thing was so large that I felt like I had “come on down” and was one of the contestants in the studio.
After exchanging pleasantries, Uncle Sid directed his attention to the program, and I took my seat on the sofa beside him. I knew this was one of his and Aunt Sadie’s favorite programs, so I waited for a commercial to find out what was going on. As soon as the show went from spinning wheels and screaming prices to a commode-cleaning commercial, I had to ask: “When did you get the new TV?”
Now looking my way, Uncle Sid began to explain. “The old Sylvania finally bit the dust the other night,” he said, “and I went in the next day to Fred’s Furniture and talked to your cousin Pierce about a new set. He sold me this high-debt TV, which most folks call HD. He suggested I should also get satellite channels since my antenna is a thing of the past, so I signed up for that and now get over 150 channels. And you know, ain’t none of them worth watching.”
“What do you watch?” I asked.
“The same things we always did,” said the old man. “We started going through the channels once this thing got all set up, and I’ve never seen anything like it. People just don’t have any scruples anymore!”
“Like what?” I just had to ask.
He rolled his eyes and said, “You got these folks who have been lost for years, and everybody votes to see who gets kicked off an island I wouldn’t have been on in the first place. Just don’t make sense if you ask me. Plus, all these shows where folks think they can sing and they couldn’t carry a tune in a milk bucket is not my idea of entertainment. Why don’t they just put the good ones on to begin with and let those others go back home to a day job?”
I could see cousin Pierce had sold Uncle Sid more than what he really needed or understood, but it was good to hear common sense for a change. Uncle Sid had always called things the way he saw them, and his review of TV shows was pretty much on my way of thinking.
“This high-debt TV really makes ball games enjoyable, and Andy and Barney seem like they are right here in the room with you,” Uncle Sid went on to say. “But that other stuff just gives me an opportunity to read the paper and this week’s Sunday school lesson, which is good enough for me.”
It’s hard to beat Andy and Barney since high-debt TV has arrived at Uncle Sid’s.