Winston MacGrath

When I’m seated in front of a television scrolling through the channels while my mother screams into my ears to put on some clothes and get out of the house every once in a while before inactivity causes me to sprout roots and turn into a literal couch potato, I sometimes stumble upon a documentary in an effort to avoid awkwardly landing on any stations that might be playing Nicki Minaj music videos at the time. I may find a documentary on birds, but I may also find one about a historical icon. If I decide to watch the latter, sometimes I’m left with a certain feeling in my fists, the kind that makes me want to find a cause and Braveheart a little. Of course, I doubt I have the eloquence to rally the masses against oppression or the patience to spend 27 years in prison for my country, but I’m definitely sparking revolutions in my own small ways. Like stepping on the grass, public urination near government buildings or how, a while back, I made history by becoming the very first person in my family to get himself dumped (via text, nonetheless. I have since received a ban of 36 months from making contact with any of my relatives outside of my parents or my siblings and I really don’t care.As a matter of fact you can keep your sweet potatoes and your little get-togethers, Grandmother! VIVA LA REVOLUCION!).

It’s called breaking out of society’s mold, people. But the system doesn’t like you defying things.Thus society, now with a you-shaped hole in it, comes back to Agent Smith you, which is what I thought happened two Fridays ago.  I heard a knock at the door and when I checked through a window, I saw a small crowd of people including very short, very stout men and a woman in a lab coat with a pen and clipboard for some reason. I think it’s the way they started trying to break inside that finally made me start yelling “BRING MY GUNS, CLYDE! THEY’VE COME TO GET ME!” as I prepared myself and made my presence inside the house known.

“You won’t take me alive, copper!” I announced from behind the door.

“We’re not police,” was the reply I got back.

“Ha! Last time I believed that, I ended up doing time in Alcatraz!”

“But Alcatraz was closed more than fifty years ago. I don’t think you’re old enough to have –”

“Shut up!” then I paused,” What do you want?”

He explained that they were there about the electricity. Apparently, they don’t like it when you move wires around so you get free power for months. I let them in, a little angry because my revolutionary confrontation would have to be put off until when they came after me for the…uh…other thing. I’d imagined the news reports already:

“A man was apprehended this morning after a twelve-second standoff with police officers which came to an end after a policeman noticed the suspect’s weapons were, in fact, water pistols painted with black shoe polish at which point the officer simply walked up and arrested the man. The suspect and his shady-looking kitten were taken into custody. Eye witnesses report that the man shouted out ‘YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE LAST OF THE WET T-SHIRT BANDIT!’ before being driven away. Police have launched formal investigations into why there are so many cats in the neighborhood.”

The woman with the lab coat began replacing the wires as they were before, but not before taking a moment to appreciate the way the tampering had been done. She didn’t immediately discover what I’d accomplished with a screwdriver and abysmal grades in high school physics, something that had me feeling like Elon Musk for three minutes before she did. The burly men just stood there with their arms crossed, flexing the veins bulging on their foreheads. The looks on their faces might have said they were feeling cheated out of a fight by virtue of my co-operation, but the distance they maintained said they were greatly intimidated by my height.

Yeah, that’s right, son, I thought to myself quietly inside my own head,you tiny little action figures don’t want it with LeBron.

Eventually, they all left, having cut off all power and giving us requirements for reconnection which included paying the fees for using enough electricity to run Godzilla’s pacemaker.

That evening, I had a special moment with my father where we lost our sanities simultaneously because the numbers on the bill looked like a bar code with decimal places. In his condition, we lied that the power was cut off after a crow built a nest in a transformer and its chicks nibbled on the power cables thinking they were worms, because one should never speak certain truths to a man who can break your jaw in 283 different ways with a toothpick.

“They don’t say bird-brain for nothing! HA-HA!” I stated at one point.

In a move that was probably meant to stop me from making any more terrible jokes, he decided not to engage me further. Then came the real problem: Living without electricity. I quickly discovered that nothing I love works without power – not my phone, not my laptop, not Sasha 3000, not my electric guitar, nothing. Within the first half hour, I was out in the streets peddling my dignity to strangers for the chance to use their phones, “Just one tweet, man, come on. I’ll do anything.”

In the heat of desperation for entertainment, I found myself resorting to such extremes as going to bed at night, going outdoors for leisurely strolls and visiting people then proceeding to actually listen to whatever it is they have to say. At one point, it got so bad that I was seriously considering picking up a book. Not even a comic book; an actual book, with pages and absolutely no pictures. I was feeling a social life creeping into the space where happiness and Star Trek used to reside in me. I was slowly turning into a functional human being, and I was horrified.

When the power did come back on almost a week later (reconnection takes so much longer than disconnection, doesn’t it, you sadists?) I couldn’t recognize my own self through a webcam. I looked healthy, well-rested and not eighty years older than I really am.

I was disgusted by my own orderly self.

I felt a strange type of delight that night when I sat down to catch up on things. I held an appreciation for CNN that would make my lecturers proud.

They say that one never knows what they have until it’s gone, and I understand that now. I couldn’t contain a smile when I slowly drifted to sleep three seconds into watching Fidel Castro give a speech on how I need to get up and do something with my life.




7 thoughts on “Winston MacGrath

    • Yes, how completely mundane it gets watching her try to trap rays of light and – AH! IT’S THE MOST ADORABLE THING…!
      I need a minute. Where is my camera?


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