The Old Man’s Microwave Stand

The Old Man was a retired man, having worked at the Hazyville Post Office for the primary portion of his career. He had worked as a newspaper boy just prior to beginning at the HPO. His wife had stayed at home her entire life, from the moment they had gotten married, to take care of their four children, two girls and two boys. They were devoutly religious in the sense that they went to their place of worship once a week to get absolved of the remainer of the week’s misdoings and poor conduct.They did not read books save for about a paragraph of their worship book once per week. Sometimes the Old Woman, the Old Man’s wife, listened to the horrors of the news on the radio.

They expected of their children the following:

  • You must have a best friend from ages 5 through 18.
  • You must see the popular movies of your childhood.
  • You must have children before the age of 24, once married.
  • For the girls, you must have a scrapbook of your dream wedding, and it must happen before age 30.
  • For the boys, you must be rude to girls that they not corrupt you.

When all of the children were out of the house, the Old Man and the Old Woman only spoke to the child that had followed all of their criteria, one of the girls, named Jennifer. She’d had a best friend, Marie, through her childhood, she’d seen all of the popular movies, she’d had children before 24, she’d had a scrapbook of her dream wedding and it did occur before she was 30, but before having children. Then, Jennifer came to live with her parents once more.

“Mum, dad, I spent so long planning my wedding that I took no care in choosing a mate. I learned his middle name and his favorite color during the wedding engagement party” Jennifer said.

“Divorce is not an option, but you may live with us for childcare in the meantime. However, your children will need to follow the same requirements that you had during childhood” said the Old Woman.

“Oh yes, mum, those were great rules and worked good to make me normal. My siblings are not gud for not following the rules.”

The neighbor across the street overheard their conversation. She’d had an issue with these people for years, and whenever she would hear them speak, she’d yell over:

“you sound like your brain’s been microwaved!” and then shut her window again.

The Old Man and the Old Woman would call her a nut and say there was something wrong with her. They knew their way of living was far superior. After all, it had produced one child who’d followed all of the rules, every one of them! The Old Man got to thinking, my success is so grand that I should share it with the world! 

So the following morning after Jennifer’s return, the Old Man dug through the cords in his garage, which the women were not allowed in, for they would surely get electrocuted. He came out of the garage with a very very long cord and plugged it in one of the outlets in the kitchen. Then he dragged the cord all the way outside to the street corner. He left the cord dangling outside while he came back in to retrieve the microwave. Next, he brought out his poker table; he used it otherwise only during his poker night with the boys, where they would drink whiskey and talk about the war, though none of them were veterans (and to be honest, nobody quite knew which war). He set the microwave on the poker table underneath the street post with the street names for the intersection Pine and Hollis.

He went back inside a final time for a fold-out chair, for blank paper that he’d pilfered from the printer, and for an ink pen that had only been used once. It’d been used when a town intellectual had come over for a cup of coffee on invite of the Old Man, who he’d met at a park. The Old Man had filled in a crossword puzzle rather incorrectly while the intellectual man had overwhelmed him with his large vocabulary which consisted of words that sounded like “mexicon” (lexicon), at which point the Old Man had interjected “great laborers! great food!”

The Old Man sat at the street corner and wrote away. He had not written in many years so his handwriting was barely legible, but he would accompany the pamphlet with a hearty speech about The Right Way to Live, which coincidently was also the title of his pamphlets. On the first flap, he put the title of the pamphlet “The Right Way to Live”, on the second left-most flap, he wrote the rules mentioned above, on the middle inside flap, he provided the consequences for not following the rules: “dumbness”, “povurty”, and “going to hell”. On the final flap, he wrote, “If you have difficolty with following rules, I can microwave your brain with the microwave on this table here. It’s already plugged in and ready for your brain.”

A young woman from a neighboring house was walking back from her job at the local bakery and stopped at the Old Man’s Microwave Stand after he’d greeted her with a “hey young lady, come learn a thing or two about your behaviur.”

He handed the young woman his pamphlet and gave her a moment before he would begin his lecture, thinking this would enable the information to soak in like the coffee in a tiramisu cake. Once he figured she’d had enough time to bask in the wisdom, he began speaking “alright little girl, this is…”

But the young woman burst out laughing and smiled radiantly, saying “you clever, clever man!”

He had eight more interactions like this with people of various ages, and he waltzed back into his house at the end of the day with a big grin on his face. The Old Woman was smiling as well, and told him the good news “you’ve been invited to speak at a local club, tonight!”

The Old Man put on the clothing he wore to his weekly visit to his place of worship, and headed out the door, microwave in hand. He went to the address specified, which was the house right across the street. He didn’t even mind that it was her home. There were “her-dervs” as the Old Man referred to them and he liked that the women formed a group of they own. He looked for the young men being nasty to the women, but saw none of it. In fact, he grew suspicious when the young women began acting rather in a man-ish manner, by being boisterous with their knowledge and not meek in their tones. And he noticed that some men were reciting “sensutive” poetry meant for women’s eyes.

“Everyone! Welcome to the Society’s weekly meeting!” It was the first young woman who’d come to the Old Man’s Microwave Stand. The Old Man held the microwave in both hands with much pride.

“Our first speaker is the Old Man who lives across the street. For years now, as Ms. Tulip has mentioned to me” she nodded to the owner of the house, the one who’d yelled ‘you sound like your brain’s been microwaved’, “the Old Man and the Old Woman have been playing the greatest satire she’s known in her whole life. She would like to commend them, especially the Old Man, for dedicating so much of his time to this strange and intellectually harrowing practice. She believes that the purpose of their intricate and unpoised exercise is to draw attention to some of the lingering practices of the Old Times, when men and women were foolish and when” she laughed again, and the audience could see the roof of her mouth “they were considered on two different planes of existence even. The Society would like to further commend the Old Man for using such profound a prop as the Microwave, which has not only been an obsolete object for over thirty years, but represents the ignorance that we all shared in that time of our human history.”

The Old Man smiled and continued to smile. Perhaps his mexicon was not developed enough for him to understand the woman’s words, perhaps he had tuned her out for being a woman speaker, perhaps all the more, he was one of the world’s more progressive and dedicated performance artists. That night, the Old Man handed out a dozen pamphlets after his talk and when he got home with his microwave, he felt he had done something good for the world.