February 14, 2010
Way back in the fall of 2005, I was living with Emil and our mutual friend Tom. We were all in our senior year at NYU. We all had pretty light schedules and a short commute to class. We also all played poker seriously. Not surprisingly, none of us graduated on time.
But this post is not about our lackadaisical academic attitudes. This post is about what happened when Tom and I convinced Emil to buy his first plasma TV.
Mind you, way back in 2005 most people didnâ€™t have flat screen televisions. They were still seen as a luxury item, and even though Emil was a big winner at 5/10 and up at the time, the only TV in our apartment was the 27" CRT I bought from my Dad for $75 the summer before freshman year.
Anyways, the three of us were chugging along that fall, playing poker and thinking occasionally that maybe one of us should go to class sometime, when Emil found a fish at (what was then for him) super high stakes, 50/100 I think. Emil ended up winning about $40,000, his biggest win to date, and Tom and I were floored.
â€œDude, you gotta get a plasma TV for the apartment!â€ We said. Emil kinda shrugged. â€œI dunno, I donâ€™t feel like going through all that hassle. Tell you what, if you two do the research and figure out what the best TV deal is, then yeah, Iâ€™ll get it.â€
That seemed more than fair to the two of us. So we spent the next three days reading online reviews, checking prices, and trekking over to the local J&R Electronics to find the best TV. After due diligence, the two of us told Emil the best deal was a Panasonic 42" model that cost around 2k and told him he should get that one.
He kinda grinned a little and said, â€œHey, what if we got two and put them in the same room, one on top of the other?â€
Tom and I stood there, confused as hell. â€œUm, why would we need two TVs on the same wall?â€
Emil elaborated on what had clearly been a long-percolating plan: â€œWe could hook a computer up to one of them, and then I could 4-table on one TV while I watched sports on the other!â€
Tom and I stood there, slack-jawed, contemplating the absurdity of this for a few minutes. We then explained to him how ridiculous that would be. Considering that Emil already had a laptop that he used to play poker while he was watching sports on TV, it took a surprising amount of convincing to talk him out of spending two thousand dollars on a TV we absolutely did not need.
But we did it. Emil found the TV model online that Tom and I had painstakingly researched, ordered it, and all was well with the world.
Until two days later when Emil came out of his room and said, â€œYo, I just bought the second TV.â€
Sure enough, a few days later two 42" Panasonic plasma TVâ€™s showed up. And sure enough, we mounted both on the wall, one above the other. Emil was giddy. Tom and I just shook our heads. This was pretty unnecessary.
But, we had to admit, pretty fuckinâ€™ cool.
We connected a computer to the top TV and got a wireless keyboard and mouse. Then, and only then, did we realize that, from eight feet away, the tables are too small to comfortably multitable, even on a big TV. I think Emil played about 30 hands before he said, â€œAh, fuck it.â€ and grabbed his laptop.
So after a thirty minute experiment, we found ourselves saddled with a two thousand dollar conversation piece.
After that it was always fun to watch people as they entered the apartment for the first time.
We eventually found a little use for the second TV â€“ weâ€™d watch TV on the bottom one and play a video game on the top one, for example, or a movie on one and a muted sports game on the other. I downloaded an NES emulator and started playing Contra and MegaMan 2 again, and I finally beat Tyson in Mike Tysonâ€™s Punch-Out (I had to do it with save-states at the end of each round and loading over and over and over, but I knocked him out, dammit! Let ten-year-old me finally have that victory.) Ninja Gaiden, by the way, is still fucking impossible. I remember playing two or three mindless comedy movies back-to-back on the bottom TV while I stared at the top TV playing Ninja Gaiden over and over and over and still not being able to beat it.
Did I mention I didnâ€™t graduate on time?
But the laziest and most decadent use I found for the second TV was in the mornings. Up until about ten a.m., sunlight would cast a glare on the bottom TV, making it just slightly harder to watch. When that happened, I would just flip to the top TV and watch there. Then, when the glare was gone, Iâ€™d just switch it back. I did it for years and I remember thinking it was funny and absurd every single time.
For three years our apartment just had two giant TVs in the same room and on the same wall. After a while you get used to it. Human beings are, after all, remarkably adaptive.
Once, Emil was laying on the couch and staring at the ceiling. â€œYou know,â€ he said, â€œIf we got another TV and put it on the ceiling I could watch TV while lying here like this.â€
We talked him out of it, though. Come on. That would have been crazy.