My Parents’ Brand New TV

When my parents went away on a cruise for one of their wedding anniversaries, I bought them a brand new flat-panel Samsung TV to replace their ancient tube TV, and snuck it into their house. I put the old one in the garage, and the new one on top of their entertainment center. To make it look like a present, I put one of those ribbons with double-sided tape in the upper right hand corner. Since their television is the first thing you see when you walk through the front door–you have to walk by it to get anywhere in the house–I figured it would be a nice surprise.

I wasn’t there when they got home from the cruise. So I called them.

“Hey,” Dad answered. “Thanks for the TV!”

“Happy Belated Anniversary,” I said. “What was it like when you noticed it?”

“We didn’t.”


“Not for a while, anyway. Your mom walked right by it, several times.”

“How on Earth could you walk by that big thing and not notice?”

“Son, I didn’t notice either. It wasn’t until we unpacked, your mom went in the kitchen, and I sat down in my recliner.”

“That’s when you noticed?”

“Nope. But I couldn’t figure out why the remote was all different. Finally, after cursing up a storm not knowing how to turn the damn thing on, your mom came over and noticed the blue ribbon. That’s when we both said, ‘HEY! We have a new television!'”

I shook my head and laughed. Mom and Dad were in their sixties, and were so unobservant. I could totally picture my parents not noticing a new TV in their living room. I’m not even sure they’d notice a new Buick in their living room.

A week or so later, I came by to visit them, and Dad was in his usual spot on the recliner watching TV. Mom was on the couch, watching as well. I looked at what they were watching, and noticed the picture quality was terrible. Everything looked foggy and unclear, even worse than their old television’s picture. I remembered that at the time, Comcast charged extra money if you wanted HD content.

“Dad! This looks awful! You need to get the HD package from Comcast.”

“What are you talking about? It looks fine to me.”

“The whole point of getting an HDTV is being able to watch HD content! It’s supposed to be crystal clear! Right now the picture looks like someone smeared Vaseline all over the screen!”

“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. And I’m not paying those criminals at Comcast another Goddamn dime. This is perfectly fine.”

And that’s how my parents watched television for the next few years. On a state-of-the-art Samsung television showing characters you could barely make out. Eventually, Comcast gave up on their stupid structured policy and made all their content HD.

I don’t think Mom and Dad noticed.

If you enjoyed this and/or my other writing, please consider a free email subscription. You’ll get exclusive subscription-only emails, blog updates, and news about my upcoming book!

  • July 15, 2022
  • 1