“Is there a way for me to write about this without sounding like a materialistic asshole?” I asked Otto.
“I dunno,” he answered.
“Maybe not,” I countered.
“Maybe,” he said.
I hate it when he won’t do my thinking for me. That’s totally why I
hired married him.
Nevertheless, I have to take the chance here, because it is amusing. And far be it from me to pass up the chance to make fun of myself. So I am going to have to confess the entire sordid tale right from the beginning.
It starts, of course, with me being stupid.
The scene is Black Friday: I am up long before dawn, scoping out the deals and posting madly to Want Not. As for my own holiday shopping, though, I’m feeling very smug—I shop the sales all year long! No last-minute shopping for me! I’m good!
Except that then I came across an astounding deal on a Blu-ray player. A really, REALLY good deal. And Otto’s birthday was coming up, and I thought to myself, “Self, I bet Otto would be quite tickled to receive this. And it’s such a good price. I will just scoop it up for him. I am an awesome wife!”
Now, technically speaking, there’s an argument to be made here that we don’t really even NEED a Blu-ray player. We have the cheapest Netflix plan and I’m pretty sure we’ve had the same DVD from them sitting on top of our television for the last four months. Why watch movies where really, there are just so many terrible options on TV already? Plus, we’re now working our way through the West Wing DVDs, which at our current rate of speed will take about two years to complete. So was a Blu-ray player a NECESSITY or anything? No, of course not. But Otto likes this sort of thing. I thought I was being a totally awesome wife! He would be so surprised!
And then I was chatting online with one of Otto’s brothers, shortly after I’d ordered, and he pointed out that, uh, Blu-ray players only work with HDTVs. I knew that, right?
Uhhhhh. Sure. Sure I did. Ahem.
So I started looking around at televisions. And it was still Black Friday, you know, so there were some deals. In fact, there was an amazing deal on an HDTV that was a little bit larger than our current TV. And by “a little bit” I mean “twice the size of.” Ahem.
I waffled. I did. Because I never, ever buy stuff like this. I hardly ever splurge. And we’ve had multiple conversations about whether or not to go HD, and we always concluded that it was silly to replace a television that still works—we would simply replace it with something high-def once it died.
But in the end I went ahead and bought the TV. Maybe I got swept up in the deal, maybe I imagined what it might feel like to be the Giver Of Big Things to the kids for a change, whatever it was, I was now going to be the proud owner of both a big-ass TV and a Blu-ray player.
I crossed my fingers and hoped that delivery on the television would be slow. Because where was I going to hide something that size? As luck would (or wouldn’t) have it, I got a delivery notice the very next day.
So they brought the TV and I let them slide the box into my office (where it promptly took up half a wall). Monkey came home from school that day and I said the first thing that popped into my head when he exclaimed over the box: “It’s not ours! We’re holding it for Foodie. Because it’s a Christmas surprise.” By the time Chickadee got home, I was able to repeat the story easily, and about a week later it occurred to me to let Foodie know we were holding “her” TV. She’s a great sport, and the next time she came by the house she even threw in a “So I’ll have to talk to you about getting that out of here another time.” The kids totally bought it.
In the meantime, I’d of course ‘fessed up about the TV to Otto, but still managed to surprise him with the Blu-ray player on his birthday. He wasn’t upset about the TV, but did point out that, of course, we would need a new TV stand.
Oh. I’d forgotten about that.
So we found a stand online and ordered it, and I hoped it would ship kind of slowly, but—much like the TV—it seemed to show up almost instantly. Of course. I had the delivery guys slide the boxes into the garage behind a few things, and hoped that the kids didn’t notice.
Then Otto and I commenced the Unveiling Struggle, because Otto thought it would be all kinds of SUPER AWESOMENESS to just make the new entertainment setup APPEAR for Christmas morning, and I—perhaps the slightly more practical of the two of us—worried that we’d end up being up all night, to say nothing of the NOISE involved in putting together a glass/metal entertainment unit while children are supposed to be dreaming of sugar plums.
So, this past Saturday we told the kids we had some bad news for them. It turned out, Otto told them, that we wouldn’t be able to use the new Blu-ray player. It was very nice, and all, but would only work with an HDTV, and we don’t have one. He broke the news over pancakes and they looked rather glum, because Otto had been talking about having a big family movie night with the new machine. I waited a few seconds and then told them that if only the TV in the office was ours… oh, wait. IT IS!
They were a little excited.
I tried to give a moving little speech about how they’ve been so helpful with my Scholastic column this year and we really wanted to do something for the whole family, but they are truly their mother’s children, and pretty much just bounced around going SHINY! and BIG TV! So, tender moment: Fail.
It turns out to be a VERY good thing we decided not to wait until Christmas; Otto spent most of Saturday getting everything built and hooked up. He pulled everything away from the wall, configured the cords, and then pushed it back. And then we all spent some quality family time staring at the TV going, “Whoa. Dude, that is big.” And then we went and rented a Blu-ray disc and were all, “WHOA! I CAN SEE HER PORES FROM HERE!” Good fun.
Yesterday the tech came to swap out our cable box for an HD one, so we pulled everything away from the wall, configured the cords, and then pushed it back. And now I can see people’s pores on all kinds of channels. And so last night—after a full day—I started wrapping Christmas presents in front of the television. Otto then went and fetched a few boxes mailed to us with presents, and in doing so, discovered a birthday present from one of his brothers tucked in with the holiday gifts. He unwrapped it to find… a Roku.
So Otto pulled everything away from the wall, configured the cords, and then pushed it back and declared, “Well. I think we have everything now. We’re never leaving this room again, are we?”
“Nope!” I declared, while busily surfing all over Netflix to add stuff to our live-streaming queue.
I realize that the rest of the world has had all of this technology for forever. And also that I am a materialistic jerk to be so delighted to finally have something worthy of being called a home theater. Or maybe it’s just that I know that money can’t buy happiness, but I’m thinking it sure can buy enough toys to make Otto see my homebody point of view. Whatever.
And all this happened because I found a great deal on a Blu-ray player. So the moral of the story is… uhhh… hey, shiny! Shiny pores!