18 Jun

Men at Work

Exercise from Day 3: Create a dialogue between two characters who want very different things. This was fun. I got to pick on a certain TV show.

Ted tried the bell, hoping no one would answer.

Brian opened the door. “Hey, man. Thanks for coming.”

Ted threw his tool belt on the floor. It thunked against the wood. “Sure. No problem,” he muttered.

“Um, so,” Brian said, glancing at the tool belt. “I was thinking about this space here.” He pointed to a blank wall. “Do-able?”

Ted examined the area and shrugged. “Seems pretty ambitious to me.” He sighed. “But sure. I mean, it’s not gonna be cheap exactly.”

“Oh, that’s not a problem. Carrie wants it this way, so, you know.”

Ted didn’t mind giving up the occasional weeknight to help out a friend, but did it have to be Thursday? He was missing his favorite TV hospital drama.

“So what’s the first step?”

Ted looked at his watch. 7:00. Maybe he could get out of here quick enough. “Well, you want a floor-to-ceiling unit, right? That’s a lot of wood.”

“Oh yeah. I got more than we could possibly need.”

Shit. “All right. Cool.” This was no small project. The space was about 8 by 12 feet, and the floor was likely unlevel. These old houses were nightmares to renovate. He ran his hand along the wall. It too seemed uneven. “You got a level? I left mine at home.”

“Sure.” Brian disappeared into the basement while Ted sauntered into the kitchen. A miniature TV rested on a countertop. Ted turned it on. Pretty good reception.

Brian returned with the level.

“Hey, you mind if we bring this in the other room and turn it on?” Ted said.

“Sure, no problem.”

Ted got to work measuring the space, snapping chalk lines, and framing the shelving unit. An hour passed quickly, and when the opening credits rolled, Ted fixated on the TV.

Brian followed his gaze. “Oh, this show is the worst. Here, I’ll change it.”

“No, no. Don’t.” Had he sounded too desperate? “I mean, the stupider the show, the better I’ll work, you know? I won’t be tempted to watch. You put on that Terminator show, and pretty soon I’ll be eating chips and staring at the TV instead of installing your bookshelf.”

Brian shot him a knowing smile. “Oh, I know. Terminator. That chick is so hot.”

“Which one?”

“You know, the robot. What’s her name? “

“Oh, right. Yeah. I can’t think of her name right now, either. But yeah. She’s a hottie.”

The hospital show was opening with the typical sentimental narration: “Sometimes in life, you’ve just got to buckle down. Whether it’s studying for a board exam, telling your best friend she’s got AIDS, or sitting through your father’s 12-hour surgery to remove his brain tumor, there’s just no way not to get your hands dirty. And other times, you’ve got to eat chocolate.” On the word chocolate, the scene cut to four college girls in their pajamas having a pillow fight.

“Dude?” Brian said. He hadn’t been watching the TV, but he looked now. “Dude!”

The two of them stood transfixed for the next five minutes. At the commercial break, Brian snapped out of his trance. “Well, we’ve got a bookshelf to build.”

“Yeah.” Ted grabbed some boards and a box of screws and completed as many noise-producing tasks as possible in the next two and a half minutes as the commercials aired. Then the show came back on, and he did a lot of measuring. Quiet measuring. He was hoping to buy time till the next commercial break, but it eventually became absurd. So he readied his drill and lined up the next screw. That’s when he heard the main character shout, “He wants a divorce?” He dropped the drill.