As my friends and closest colleagues know, I call my television “Winona Ryder.” There’s a story behind that: I received this beauty for my 20th birthday. When it was first hooked up to my cable, I made a beeline for HBO, via remote, to find one of my favorite movies playing: Reality Bites. It’s something of a touchstone motion picture for Gen Xers, and its star, Winona Ryder, was our grunge-pixie Audrey Hepburn. So the name stuck.
Fast-forward 17 years. Winona Ryder (the television) has seen better days (so has the actor, frankly). She shuts off without warning. The picture isn’t clear. The volume is never quite right. I’ve resisted buying a flat screen out of loyalty to Winona Ryder because the two of us have shared some amazing memories. After all, it was through her that I watched (every ‑ single ‑ moment of) the O.J. Simpson trial, the aftermath of the 9/11, and the devastation by Hurricane Katrina. Fonder memories also surface: discovering who shot Montgomery Burns on The Simpsons or Stephen Colbert coining “Truthiness” on The Colbert Report.
Wynona Ryder has never faltered in keeping me informed of what’s going on in the world. She’s kept me entertained and enlightened. She’s seen me through many battles with insomnia, and has been my constant companion during marathon viewings of Animal Hoarding.
For those with a limited budget (like this guy), television can be our travel agent, our view of the world, our at-home study guide of cultures and people vastly different from our own realities. It can be a powerhouse teacher, and I’m proud to be a lifer in that classroom.
It won’t be long until Winona Ryder’s screen goes dark for good. The walk to my dumpster will no doubt be a somber one. I’ll have to watch television on an unchristened flat screen from my well-worn sofa, which, incidentally, has a name of its own. But that’s another story.
Stunning featured image courtesy of Christopher Heffron