Ten years ago, I made the mistake of buying a used, rear-projection television. It was forty-six inches from corner to corner, had a fuzzy picture, and was soiled and dirty from misuse. At some point in its life, judging from the crusty stains on the pressed wood cabinet, this television must have been owned by an unkempt consumer of pornography. Nevertheless, I welcomed it into my home.
The first challenge was bringing it home, and I borrowed a friend’s pickup truck. I took great care in strapping it down. I have seen the remains of televisions, kitchen tables, and children’s play structures along the median of highways, and I didn’t want to have one of those stories to tell. But oh how lucky would I have been if all that I had to say about this big screen TV is that it fell and shattered somewhere along 127 South, and I raced away to avoid cleaning the mess.
The next challenge was carrying it over the threshold. I begged help from three of my neighbors, and it was like marrying the daughter of a Somoan king: carrying that bitch into the house nearly herniated all of us. And what is worse, I wanted that 500 pound monster in the basement.
I was certain that one of us would be killed during the descent. The drywall in the stairwell has the scars to prove that it happened, but I really don’t know how we made it. Those stairs have two turns, and what I recall is that we were all struggling, breathing heavily, and sweating like pigs. One of my neighbors grabbed one of my breasts while adjusting his grip, and I swear his hand lingered just a moment longer than it should have, but I was too worried about dying to complain of being groped.
But once installed and powered up, the television actually worked. For three months, that is, it worked. Then sparks flew out of the control panel, it hissed and sizzled, and a small puff of smoke wafted forth. It was reminiscent of my career.
I paid a technician to attempt to repair it, but he could only suggest a $300 component without any guarantee of success, so I paid him the diagnosis fee and chased him away. The stupid television cost $50. In a sense, the fondling from my neighbor was worth that, so I just left the broken TV lie quiet and unused.
Ten years have passed, and hardly a day has passed that I didn’t wonder what I was going to do with that thing. I suppose there are numerous alpaca farmers who hoped to cash in on the alleged craze for wool that have a similar problem as my own, but at least I haven’t been feeding my television and cleaning up after it as it pooped in the basement; then again, they can always sleep with their alpaca to stay warm on cold nights.
Hearing me lament my fate, my brother suggested tearing it apart bit by bit, and I have finally started this new project. It reminds me of The Shawshank Redemption when the prisoner spends fifteen years tunneling out of his cell. It doesn’t remind me of that because I’m going to be dragging the pieces out of the basement through my sewer line, but rather because I am disassembling it, and removing a single screw can takes several minutes. The pressed wood is glued together as well. And the projection component has shielding around it like the solid steel door you might have in solitary confinement. This Mitsubishi TV is built like an impregnable prison.
As God is my witness, I will tear it all down and escape my fate. And once I’m free, I’ll move to Mexico and perhaps find a neighbor to fondle me once again.