As a homeowner, the last thing you expect to instigate a chore is television. Television – whether you’re a homeowner or renter – is something you use as an excuse to pre-empt or cancel chores. I do it, and I don’t even watch much television. I haven’t subscribed to cable television since the late 1980s. As a renter, I just never got around to it. As a homeowner, well, I think that giant antenna on the roof adds charm and tremendous resale value to a lovely home.

When The Dog was in her marauding puppy stage – which I expect to last until she reaches old age – she opted to eat the antenna wire. Andy and Opie were lost in a blizzard. Watching The American Experience became an experience indeed. And, alas, after testing numerous TV-top devices, it was decided that nothing – forgetting cable – brings in a better picture than that Ray-Gun, probably first used to bring down Russian MiGs and bring in I Love Lucy, on my rooftop, three miles above.

Instead of watching Home Improvement, I am about to experience it first-hand.

I have to move the 16-ton entertainment center, rip out the antenna wire The Dog couldn’t reach and shove the new wire in that tiny, tiny hole in the side of the house – hey, it’s all easy compared to the next mission, something Peter Graves wouldn’t even accept.

I must climb the roof, a regular Mount McKinley, to the summit, lugging antenna wire and tools. The air is thin atop my one-story abode, and I ask myself: Why? Why am I risking life and limb so I can tune in Jerry Springer and not American Movie Classics?

Finally, I reach the top and grab hold of the antenna for dear life. If I slip, the monkey grass might break my fall, but chances are better that I will overshoot it and hit the flagstone.

I pull out my pocketknife, as dull as Peter Jennings, and trim back the wire to the copper. I can almost smell the peanuts on the 727 overhead, but I work diligently. There’s just enough wire, and as quick as David Janssen could find that one-armed man, I’m done. It’s all downhill from here.


But I make it to the ground in one piece, and move inside. I bypass the VCR for now and go straight to the TV. The reception is clear. Perfect. Hey, Little Joe, are those polyester pants you’re wearing?!

There are a few additional tidy-up tasks – there always are after a chore – such as tacking the wire up the side of the house in case The Dog craves copper again, but the Ray-Gun is back in place, reception is acceptable, and I can turn on the TV and wonder why I ever bothered to fix the antenna wire in the first place.

But first I must figure out how to reconnect the VCR. And that’s something even a renter can relate to.

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