Two Sets of Rules – One for Women, One for Men

Japanese Garden

The other day, I had an astonishing vision. It was strikingly colorful and finely detailed.

I saw a beautiful Japanese woman, clad in classical garb. Her allure was heightened, at least to this Westerner, because her lovely face wasn’t obscured with the Kabuki makeup favored by geishas and the hard-rock band KISS.

She knelt down in a Shoji — a traditional Japanese house, replete with wood lattice and paper doors that were open to the outside. As she knelt by them looking on to a garden, my vision expanded to include the meticulously-kept landscape, which would have put the boldest Technicolor movie palette to shame.

The exquisite detail owed to the painstaking work of a Japanese gardener. My appreciation knew no bounds. There wasn’t a blade of grass out of place. The breathtaking image drew my eye and I experienced a transcendent Zenlike euphoria. But then, like most pleasant dreams, my vision popped like a bubble, and I was jarred back to reality.

Apparently the source media had concluded. The clever bastards at Best Buy electronics had lured me into their TV display area by running the video bait on an 85-inch ultra hi-def 4k TV. It was like they knew my weakness. Then, to completely destroy the illusion, I was approached by a salesman who looked like a Florida fisherman who had just hooked a marlin.

The battle was on.

“Can I help you, sir?”

“By any chance, would this unit be on sale?” I coolly asked while my heart beat like a jackhammer.

The salesman quoted me a figure. It wasn’t a gazillion dollars, and I seriously entertained throwing it in the bag with the replacement receiver I’d gone there to buy. But then I thought: What would the woman at home say?


At least a dozen years ago, I purchased a 65-inch TV that she described as “monstrous” when I showed it to her at the store. Did she not realize that I was going for monstrous? That descriptor was music to my ears.

The odd thing was, when it was hung on the wall, she said, “Oh, it doesn’t look that big!” What? You mean I could’ve gotten a bigger screen?

That has stayed with me for years. And that damned TV has performed flawlessly ever since. There’s just no obvious reason to replace it.

But when its time comes, my wife mentioned a formula for sizing a new screen to fit our room. Have you heard of Recommended Viewing Zone? It takes into account the optimum panoramic viewing angle, the size of the TV, some fudge factor to multiply the TV diagonal by, and of course, one’s gender; for this formula, the gender is always female. That’s because the formula was invented by women for women.

Its purpose is to reign in gullible men’s TV-shopping fantasies. Otherwise, their wives would have to make peace with what they would certainly describe as a gargantuan eyesore.

The formula for male-oriented Recommended Viewing Zone is quite a bit simpler. Here’s an example:

The owner of the New England Patriots football team just installed a 22,000-square-foot curved-radius high-definition videoboard at Gillette Stadium. It may well be the largest screen of its kind in the world. And I’m sure that not just a few men wonder if it would fit in their man caves.

There is no upper limit to screen size for men.

Sadly, for our society, this proves that there are, indeed, two sets of rules for men and women … at least, in matters of visual entertainment.

In any case, an 85-inch TV is still somewhere in my future. Whenever that is, I wonder what my wife will think of putting the 65-inch “monster” in our bedroom.


The End

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4 replies
  1. Lei Lani Lucero
    Lei Lani Lucero says:

    This came at a perfect time! My 40 inch flat screen (one of the first ‘smart’ tvs) is developing white spots, and I do not feel like taking it apart and re-glue-ing the backlighting leds and shields, so, I am trying to figure out the ‘biggest’ screen I can get in my living space.
    (my husband to be has a very large screen in his space – but his space is bigger than mine, so…)
    Doing a cursory search, I find the equation that the optimum viewing distance is 1.6 times the diagonal measurement of the screen. So, if my room is 12′ x 14′, and the screen in is one corner, the couch is in the opposite corner, that gives me about 18 feet (thank you Pythagoras!). Hmmm. 18 feet is 216 inches. 216 / 1.6 is 135″. So, doe that mean I can get a 135″ tv? I think not!
    So… to be a bit more realistic, let’s say since the tv is in the corner, that removes at least 24 inches from the viewing depth. And, since I don’t sit in the exact corner of the sectional, let’s remove another 24 inches. That leaves 14 feet. Oh. Now were down to a 100″ tv. But, that will sit farther out from the corner,… arrrrrgh! I think I just go with a 50 or 55 inch screen. (unless I can find an awesome deal on a 60″). Thanks, Michael. My husband-to-be will be happy that I calculated a very large screen, but will be disappointed when I come home with one that can fit in the back of my Escape.
    Even Samsung’s website trends toward smaller sizes. They base it on having the screen occupy 40 degrees of your field of view.

  2. Judy Kirschner-Baines
    Judy Kirschner-Baines says:

    My big screen TV is centuries away. Since I have such small requirements – big will not show up any time soon.


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