The Infrared Albatross.

This last weekend, I've been going through the archives -- every tax return, every schoolbook, and every last scrap of paper that ever found itself under a fridge magnet. Movie ticket stubs. Notes passed to me which complained about a class, without mention of which class it was. Cable bills, still unopened in their envelopes. One playing card, four centimeters tall (King of Hearts). Subscription offers for CompuServe (CompuServe?). If it was in my room for more than five days, it found its way into one of two dozen boxes labelled, "Denton's stuff". This weekend, I pared it all down to three boxes worth keeping.

An imposing challenge? Certainly. Back-breaking paperwork? The worst of both worlds. Uncomfortable bouts of nostalgia? Much to my family's regret.

Being able to burn every last one of my notes from Dr. Johnson's Chem 251, however, made it all worthwhile.

Finally, in the back of the storage room lay one last box. It was a microwave box, although that said nothing about its contents. I opened it up... and it was a microwave. Not the one pictured on the box, mind you.

Dumbstruck, I staggered to my couch and collapsed. Finally, after six hours of leafing through psychologist's reports from when I was six, my past had finally come back to haunt me.

I remember it like it was yesterday...

The microwave in the Swan Hills staff room had officially died. No amount of cajoling, directed tapping, or tinfoil would work. A replacement was flown in from Edmonton by helicopter (not really), and all that was left was to throw the old model in the trash. (Fun fact about Swan Hills: Trash = environmentally safe incinerator. Ah, good times.)

I approached the supervisor's office later that day. Might I be able to take the microwave home with me, I asked?

Whatever for, he queried.

An art project, I answered.

Very well, then, he said in his infinite wisdom. But he demanded pictures of the finished work.

To this date, that work is unfinished, and the microwave haunts my storage closet still. This is why, despite having just thrown out two boxes of adorable drawings I made for my parents when I was 3, I still can't dispose of a broken microwave.

I made a promise to make art out of that appliance, and some day, I swear I shall. Until then, look at me, this poor wretched beast, and know ye the despair of the man who can not escape his past.


Brian Fahlman said...

It took you this long to trash your 251 notes?

Kevin said...

I remember the microwave like it was yesterday. I still want pictures.


Denton said...

Brian: It took me this long to come out of Chem 251 denial. As soon as I came to, the notes almost flew out of my hand into the garbage -- followed quickly by just a soup├žon of expectoration.

Kevin: When it's done, you will have your pictures. And yes, it will be done some day... that's the plus side to being haunted by a microwave, I guess.

About The Author

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.