Sunday, May 16, 2010

Watching Television

See ya later, alligator.
A recent news story in the old town was the subject of conversation at the local coffee cathedral.  Oscar, Little Doug and your agent were in attendance.

The story concerned the slow, but steady removal of outgoing mail delivery boxes on the old town's streets.  Apparently, it won't be long before they disappear entirely.  If you want to mail something, you'll have to go to a postal outlet.  These are typically located in grocery and drug stores.

Little Doug said he hadn't realized his attachment to the iconic red mailbox until he heard about its eventual demise. He thinks it will be a shame to see it go.

"I like putting my own mail in a mailbox." said Little Doug.  "I don't know why, but there's something satisfying about it."

"When was the last time you mailed something?" asked Oscar.

Little Doug thought for a moment and said, "Probably a few years ago."

Maxwell rolls into the Sack.
Last month, Oscar and your agent were drinking tea while reclining on his front steps.  It was slightly after the dinner hour on a Thursday evening.

A white pickup truck motored into the Sack.  It carried a large object in the back.  This was covered by a blue tarpaulin and tied securely to the vehicle with rope.  We watched as the truck backed slowly into the Bitterman's driveway next door to Oscar's place.  The passenger door opened and Maxwell, Britney Bitterman's beau, appeared.  His illustrious cousin, Doug "Dougie" Duggan, emerged from the driver's side.

Entertainment circa 1999
Maxwell and Dougie immediately began to untie their cargo.  Eventually, the tarp was removed and Maxwell's latest acquisition was revealed.  The object was a monstrous rear projection television.  It was clearly a used, older model.

Oscar guessed that it was at least fifteen years old.

Maxwell and Dougie had to unload the humongous television from the back of the pickup.  First, they circled it a few times, wisely considering the most effective manner for getting it off the truck and into the house.  After a brief conference, they moved to opposite ends of the television. Maxwell positioned himself at the rear of the truck.

There were a few false starts as they started lifting the unit.  When they finally got it up, the television wobbled dangerously for a few seconds, before Maxwell and Dougie regained control of it.  The same thing happened when they tried to lift it again.

In Britney's opinion. . . . .
Britney Bitterman must have been observing these efforts from her front window.  She appeared at the front door and bellowed at them.  This was followed by a stern summary of what they were doing wrong and a shrill reminder of what they should be doing instead.  When she finally ran out of steam, Maxwell barked angrily back at her.

When the ensuing five-minute argument finally petered out, Oscar said, "I'll say it again.  This is why this place is still better than watching digital cable."

Eventually, Maxwell and Dougie maneuvered the TV off the truck.  They carried it through the garage and presumably into the basement space that Britney, Maxwell and the kids use as their main living area in the Bitterman house.  Given the size of the space, Oscar said the TV would certainly dominate the entire room.

"Of course," he added, "maybe that's the idea."

About a half-hour later, Maxwell and Dougie returned to the driveway.  After a quick fist pump, Dougie got into his truck and left the Sack.  

It's that time again. . . . .
By this time, Oscar had retrieved several bottles of drink to replace our empty teacups.  He said it was as good a time as any to enjoy the first cold, outdoor beverage of the season.  Your agent could find no reason to disagree.

When his cousin drove away, Maxwell noticed us for the first time as we sat on Oscar's steps.  We had been partially concealed by the stair railings while the driveway shenanigans were going on.

Maxwell quickly sauntered towards us.  There was a broad smile on his face.  As he drew near, Oscar said, "Got yourself a new boob tube, eh?"

"Yeah," Maxwell laughed, "Boobs are gonna look pretty big on that thing."

According to Maxwell, he bought the television from his cousin, Darren.  He's one of a legion of extended family members Maxwell has scattered throughout the old town.  Apparently, Darren is some kind of wheeler and dealer in used goods of questionable value.

Maxwell said he bought the TV for one hundred dollars.  "A C-note," he said, "that's it."

"That's a bargain," I replied.

"Damn straight," said Maxwell.

Oscar was curious about Maxwell's reason for making such a purchase.  After all, it was an older model that had probably seen better days.

Maxwell grinned.  "Not this one.  It used to belong to a Legion.  They only used it to show Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights.  Besides, I saw it running before I got it.  We've got it set up great right now.  It's kick-ass. 

"Anyway," he continued, "I got it mostly for the kids.  When the new baby comes, Britney's gonna need something to keep the other two busy, at least 'til the older one starts school."

Britney, of course, is due to give birth this summer.  Mr. Bitterman had already provided Oscar with this update.  Apparently, he is less than thrilled about this latest addition to his household.  Maxwell and Britney already have two rug rats, Hekyl and Jekyl.  Mr. Bitterman said he loves his grandchildren, but he's not crazy about having to pay for them.  

This is because Maxwell, according to Mr. Bitterman, never seems to have a pot to piss in.

Things are looking up.
Maxwell went on to inform us that things have been coming up roses for him lately.  He's working full-time now in the world of traffic management.  One might imagine that this involves standing at road construction sites with a two-sided traffic sign.  Maxwell, however, gave us an insider's view of the occupation.  Apparently, it's much more complex than the average citizen would expect.

The rear-projection television, according to Maxwell, was his first big purchase since getting a full-time pay cheque.  This had occurred about five hours ago.

As he prepared to leave, Britney reappeared at the front door of the Bitterman house.  Apparently, there was something wrong with the newly acquired television.

"What's the matter with it?" Maxwell called out.

Britney reply was short and sharp.  The sound wasn't working.  She told Maxwell to get his ass in the house and fix it.

Maxwell asked her if she was "farting around" with the remote control.  This response sent Britney into a tizzy.  She said her "show" was coming on in fifteen minutes.  She added a vague warning about what would happen to Maxwell's carcass if he didn't do something about it pronto.  The front door slammed behind her as she disappeared back into the house.

Maxwell gave Oscar and your agent a quick salute.  "Well," he said, "I guess I should get going.  As he turned away, he quickly added, "If you guys are interested in getting one of those TVs, let me know, eh?  Darren's got a few of them.  I can probably get you a good deal."

Oscar said he was satisfied with his current TV situation, but if he changed his mind, Maxwell would be the first to know about it.

"Same here," said your agent, "but thanks anyway."

"No sweat," replied Maxwell.

Last Wednesday, your agent was reclining in the Wonders' front room with his nose in a book.  I was interrupted by a phone call from Oscar.

"Look out your window." he said.

It's common for Oscar to call with instructions that I should look out my front window.  Sometimes, there's something amusing going on.  On other occasions, it's something appalling.

When I looked out the front window this time, I saw Maxwell's giant rear-projection television at the curb outside the Bitterman home.  It was surrounded by their substantial weekly trash.

"That's too bad," said your agent, as Oscar chuckled on the other end of the phone.

"I'll say," he replied, "I was thinking about getting one, too."


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