"...and he wants to go over to so and so's to watch the game because we don't have cable..." I was explaining the evening's logistics to another mom watching our sons' baseball game go into extra innings and why one of my other sons was texting me.
"Yet," she concluded, since she knew we had just moved into a new house.
"No, at all. I have Internet and phone already -- I needed that for work right away."
I am not sure if she didn't answer me because I'd rendered her speechless or if she had simply reverted her attention to the game, where her son was at bat.
"Are you going with dish?" the guy at the hardware store asked me when I availed myself of their UPS drop off to ship the set-top boxes and remotes back to the cable company.
"Actually, we thought we'd try streaming TV. You know, from the Internet."
"Yeah. People do it. I'm gonna try rabbit ears, too." I held up my two fingers in a peace sign to indicate the antenna I remembered from childhood, which, back then, we sometimes augmented with a coat hanger and/or aluminum foil for better reception or if one of the "ears" had broken.
"Well, the device I got is actually a flat HD antenna. I expect to get all the local broadcast channels. They are free, you know."
"You're all set, ma'am, this shipping label is prepaid."
"Thanks." I guessed he didn't know what else to say.
A couple of days later my cousin and her boyfriend stopped by to see our new house. As we sat on the screen porch overlooking the boys playing Wiffle Ball in the back yard, my cousin's boyfriend asked, "Why aren't they watching the game?" He was checking the score periodically on his smart phone.
"We don't have cable and haven't figured out how to stream TV yet." My cousin and her boyfriend actually thought the streaming idea was "kinda cool" and that launched a remember-when discussion about the TV that used to be in our grandmother's house. "It had those two dials and a pull-on knob ... What were the dials for?" my cousin, who is a "millennial," asked me.
"You know, one was VHF and one was UHF."
I racked my brain to explain, "Well, the VHF one -- I don't know what it stands for, but -- that's where you'd tune in all the low channels; except there was no channel 1 and you could probably only get three to four of the channels total. The other dial -- the UHF one -- was for the high number channels, but it didn't go anywhere near 100 and again, I think you could only get a few of them. We used to watch 56. UHF is where I discovered 'Creature Double Feature,' and 'Community Auditions.'"
She looked at me blankly. Her boyfriend was checking the score.
That night my son watched the playoff game; it went into overtime at nearly 11 p.m. on a school night. I told him, "Sorry, hon, I've got to take you home now." His friend's mom backed me up and consoled him with, "You can listen to the game on the radio on the way home."
My son asked as he was tuning it in, "Do we have a radio at home?"
Being nowhere near unpacked, I answered, "I can't think where it is, but I'm sure there's an app for that." As soon as we pulled into the driveway and were within range of our Wi-Fi, he began the download.
All summer we've watched mostly "Leave it to Beaver" on Netflix (since we already lost the remote to our streaming entertainment device and most of the channels we get with our HD antenna are in Spanish). We don't have the variety of sports the boys were accustomed to (nor do we have hundreds of channels with "nothing good on") but they can follow the games via apps on their iPods.
The mother of three sons, Caroline Poser lives with her family in Groton. See www.CarolinePoser.com for more.