Kids, today, have no appreciation for how clear a picture they get on the television. I grew up with analog television, which meant antennas, rabbit ears, tin foil and trying to find just the right spot to receive the signal. It always seemed that the perfect spot required me to stand, on my tiptoes, on the far side of the room.
I doubt if kids, today, would know about snow and test patterns or hearing the national anthem when a channel went off the air or came on in the morning. Today, most channels never going off the air. Most run infomercials or repeat prime-time programming in the wee small hours of the night.
This became clear to me one day, while working a pool bar at Disney. I always loved working pool bars. It was nice, bright and sunny weather. The sets ups were beautiful, using the best equipment and liquor a bartender could ever ask for.
This day, I was at a place called “The Backstretch,” in the Disney Saratoga Springs Resort. The place has a horseracing theme, hence the name of the pool area. I'd learned many men loved to watch football, even when a game wasn't on.
That's where the ESPN Classic Channel came into play. Often, I could tune in a good old football game, a Super Bowl from back in the single digit era, and the men would line the bar to shout and carry on as if it was a live game. There were times I felt so sorry for them; the team they were cheering the loudest for was destined to lose and I just didn’t have the heart to tell them.
One day, among the happy fans was a little boy, he was there with his dad; he couldn't have been more than five or six. It was clear that his dad was trying to introduce the boy to the game; the boy asked many questions and his dad did his best to explain things in a way that he could understand.
Anyway, the little fellow sat atop one of the stools and enthralled, thoroughly, by the game. He got a milk shake and a mini pizza; he had a ball sharing one on one time with his dad. However, over time, he got quite the bewildered expression on his face, but it didn't have anything to do with the rules of the game, as we eventually discovered.
Finally, little fellow asked the question that had been preying on his mind. He said, "Daddy, why is the picture so fuzzy?"
The comment brought stunned silence from the assembled throng. The men looked from one to the other, all clearly confused and unsure how to respond. We all faced the same issue. How to explain the old style television images, from long ago, in a way he could understand? He tried. He “fumbled,” so to speak.
I got in close to him and told him that the game was an old, old, ole one from Mickey’s video vault. It was so old that the picture wore out over the years.
He perked right up, smiled ear to ear and his eyes got a sparkle to them. As far as he was concerned, if Mickey Mouse had kept this old game around, it had to be good. After that, he sat there and shouted as much as did the other men.
When the game ended, the young fellow was exhausted, thoroughly, from the pure adrenaline rush. His dad had to carry him back to his room. I got a very good tip that day and it wasn’t of the monetary kind.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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