Beta to the Max
It was probably about 1983 when Mom came home with a great bargain: a brand new Betamax video player! The sweet deal came complete with free membership to Popingo's Video Shop, fifty discounted rentals and a complimentary bag of microwave popcorn. The only problem? Apparently Betas were being phased out for VCRs, and all the videos on the shelf were made to play in that type of machine exclusively. Bummer.
Every weekend Mom sent us through the store with a mission of finding tapes. We'd look high, we'd look low, we'd lift boxes to see if anything was hidden behind. Our feet made a noticeable path to the rental counter--it was like a game. "Do you have this in Beta?" "Nope." "Do you have this in Beta?" "Nope." "Do you have this in Beta?" Pause. Clerk looks on old MS-DOS computer. "Nope."
That's when we learned the art of enjoying secondhand film. Why see the hit movies when you can watch a strangely written gem with unknown stars?
I have to give the old machine some credit, it never broke down. The VCR we bought a few years later died in no time, and it was the Beta that kept kicking along. I programmed the flashing digital clock and entered local stations into its faceplate. It was a great machine after all. Mom found some recordable tapes and we used them over and over, taping shows and movies off the TV. They're like time capsules now, showing commercials with screaming car salesmen in tacky suits. "So come on down to the water tower and get your Chevy Cavalier for only $50 down and $50 dollars a month! Tell 'em Larry sent you!"
Next on the list was a color TV. And then after that, a real microwave to cook our old unused package of popcorn in! Party at my house: 1986. Be there. And . . . bring some Beta tapes if you have any.