It’s pretty hard to find a more ridiculous venue for a classic, mournful folk song than a movie where Justin Long gets turned into a walrus. Last week I came close, but fell short. Like I said, it’s tough to beat. For god sakes, Mac from the Mac & PC commercials got drugged and had his legs cut off and then had his leg bones attached to his face to act as tusks in that movie. True, ridiculous story.
The song in question is Gerard Way’s cover of “O Waly, Waly (The Water is Wide).” It’s a fantastic, heartbreaking ditty about love and loss and sailing and boats and so forth. It’s a real heart-string tugger from Scotland that dates back to the 1600s and plays over the end credits of the Kevin Smith film “Tusk,” which is that Justin Long, body-mod movie we were just talking about. That movie has a completely bi-polar tone where it plays dead serious and very jokey sometimes in the same scene. So the emotional gut punch that is Way’s cover, in an insane uh ... way, makes sense playing right after a scene where Justin Long (full-fledged walrus at this point) is visited by his old girlfriend and the kid from “The Sixth Sense.” It’s a sad, absurd scene, why not cap it off with a four centuries old Scottish song covered by the guy who most of the general public will always remember for his vampire-on-prom-night look from the early 2000s?
I’m getting off topic. Last week, I was sort of in a sad mood on Friday morning. Nothing major, just sort of a gray mood. A “one of those mornings” kind of thing. In honor of this, I decided to fire up that song on my phone (courtesy of Youtube) and sad-sack my way to work. However, I wouldn't be making my usual morning commute.
On the way to work, I had to stop off at a local municipal building to drop off an old TV I had hanging around from my college days. Old TVs are literally the hardest thing in the world to get rid of. I tried selling it at a yard sale for five bucks. No takers. I tried giving it away at the same yard sale for free. No takers. I tried leaving it outside at night with a sign that read “Free.” No takers. I tried putting it up online for free. No takers. Somewhere in this process, someone made off with the TV’s cord and left the TV behind because the copper wire in that was more valuable than the rest of the TV. At that point I was stuck with an old TV that now had no cord. In other words, it had somehow become even more worthless.
A phone call to the local trash company confirmed that they didn’t want it either. It turns out the disposal of TVs is a highly-regulated practice that my local trash company doesn’t get involved in. Eventually I found out that the only option I had – other than building a DIY rocket, tying the TV to it and aiming for the sun – was to drive it over to the township building and leave it in a shed dedicated to recycling electronics.
It wasn’t such a big deal. The building was on my way to work, more or less. Still, this is America and in America we’re accustomed to people either paying us a few bucks for things we no longer want or taking them away from the front of our homes for us. It’s what this country was founded on.
After some initial confusion navigating the township building, I found the correct office and the nice lady behind the counter directed me to the electronics recycling shed. I drove my car to it, opened the garage door and walked around to the back of my car. As I reached in to pick up that old, heavy son of a gun, I got walloped with a metric ton of feels. One minute I was silently grumbling about how George Washington would be spinning in his grave if he knew how hard it was to get rid of a TV and knew what a TV was. The next I was living out that scene from “Toy Story 3” where the toys are about to get sucked into the swirling fire pit. Maybe it was the sad Scottish folk song sung by the guy who wrote “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” that I’d been listening to on repeat for the entire drive between the gym and the shed that got me. Maybe it was … no, it was definitely that first thing.
All I could think of were the memories that TV and I had compiled together. Moving out of my parents’ house and into a dorm freshman year. Living in the city. Living with a "World of Warcraft" addicted meth head and not being sure what part of that description was worse. Leaving the city and moving to West Chester. Coming back to my parents’ house. Moving out again and into my own place. There was a lot of emotional mileage on that TV. And there it sat in my back seat. Maimed. Unwanted by literally every level of society. Including me.
I was embarrassingly broken up by all this.
Somehow, I managed to pull myself together and put it in the shed. I gave it a tap on its top and said “Bye, TV” and silently hoped it would get along with the three or four other TVs in the shed, closed the door and went to work. For the rest of that car ride to work, "O Waly, Waly" was about me and my TV.
I’ll never forget you, TV. I hope you end up as something really cool and high tech in your next incarnation. Like a tablet or some part for a space station or something. Vaya con dios, my old friend.