Out of all the TV dinners, the roast turkey was Ted’s favorite. He liked to mix the mashed potatoes and peas together, sandwich them inside a piece of buttered bread and dunk the whole thing into the watery gravy. The meat was surprisingly tender.
He took the plastic tray out of the microwave with a dish towel, set the slice of buttered bread on top, and brought it over to his chair in the living room. He switched on the TV set and cracked open a can of Coors Light while he searched for something to watch. He set one of his mother’s old ashtrays on the arm of his chair and lit a Camel from the pack he kept in the living room. The ashtrays were tacky old things made from melamine that she had won at a church raffle. They were all Ted had taken when she died.
Well-suited for bachelor life, Ted didn’t care for the so-called “finer things.” He ate the same ten frozen meals on rotation, with the occasional call for a pepperoni and sausage pizza. When he felt like mixing it up, he’d ask for bacon, too.
He landed on one of those programs about people who bring in so-called “antiques” to show to so-called “experts” who tell them what they’re worth. The best was when someone would bring in some stupid decorative plate or ugly vase, obviously expecting it to be worth a fortune. The expert would tell them it had the wrong shade of blue in the pattern or some other such nonsense, making it essentially worthless. You could almost hear the thud as they got bucked right off of their high horse. It was great television.
Ted dunked his mashed potato and pea sandwich into the translucent gravy and took a bite. A little gravy dribbled onto his shirt, unnoticed. This eager young idiot came to the “expert” with a set of ashtrays. They were, in fact, the same melamine ashtrays Ted had taken from his mother. They were worthless junk then, and they’d be even more worthless now.
The expert picked them up and turned them over, examining them in excruciating detail. To Ted’s surprise, the expert told this excitable moron on TV that the ashtrays were highly collectible. Apparently they were part of some short-run promotional collection by some designer guy and they’d go to the right bidder for as much a $650 for a complete set.
“Well I’ll be damned,” Ted was dumbfounded. These ugly plastic discs that he used for ashes and cigarette butts were actually worth $650 to these people? That was as much as he’d spend on frozen dinners in nearly half a year. He sawed off a hunk of turkey and squashed out his cigarette. His mother always did love the damned things.