Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

The Shock of the New

I got up at 7:30 am with the boy on New Year’s Day. So far: 2011 is rainy.

Yesterday we went to Wal-Mart to spend some gift cards. Not something we do often, and an odd way to spend the end of 2010. The Wal-Mart closest to us in a mall, though — further proof we’re Berkeley People, now, as the Richmond Wal-Mart is closer than the Oakland one — and so there were mall-type things. River got to ride a carousel, and attempted to ride several little cars/jeeps/rocketships/helicopters, but half of ’em were broken, and the other half were “too scary.” He did like the fire truck, once we convinced him to give it a try.

We got a new TV (yay for post-Xmas sales) to replace our old ailing one, which we acquired years ago secondhand on Craigslist, and which only worked right if you wiggled and propped up the various cables, as all the inputs were slowly dying. So now we’re finally living in the Flatscreen Future!

It’s not an objectively gargantuan TV — a 42″ widescreen — but it does constitute an unimaginably vast improvement over our old one. I can actually read the text in video games on screen now. Incroyable. And River is quite enamored of Giant-Sized episodes of Dinosaur Train.

All was not sunshine and roses, though, alas. The TV box was so large it could only fit in the car if I removed the kid’s car seat and wedged it in the back seat, so I drove it home while my wife wandered the mallabyrinth with the boy. She was unthrilled about being stranded at the mall near dinnertime while I drove the 20 minutes home and 20 minutes back, as I’d blithely assured her beforehand that I thought the TV would fit fine. My utter lack of any spatial sense will be a subject of my wife’s mockery for years to come; like it wasn’t already.

(I mean, I thought: “A 42″ TV? Sure, that’ll fit in the trunk.” And the TV itself would, easily… but it comes in a giant padded box, of course. Which I rather failed to account for. And unpacking the TV in the parking lot and driving it home un-padded seemed, um, inadvisable. Anyway, I made it up to her by offering to get up with the kid and letting her sleep in this morning, even though it’s my turn to sleep in.)

Not that we can afford a new TV, really, but there’s a fair bit of fiction money coming in soon, and my wife’s financial situation is stabilizing a bit in the new year, so the expense shouldn’t linger overlong on my credit card. It’s definitely an indulgence… but I have few enough of those that I don’t feel bad.

And if I did feel bad, I would let the light of my new giant TV soothe me.

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