The Return of Professor Lirpa!
Before I could say, “I thought you were dead,” he rushed past me and ran into my home theater room, dragging a vintage steamer trunk with stickers from far-flung places. He ripped open the trunk’s lid, took a deep breath, then gently reached inside. He pulled out a misshapen black sphere about the size of a mango, and held it out to me. I said exactly the same thing I always say when Lirpa shows me his newest invention—“What the hell?”
He smiled at me, in precisely the same way that the world champion chess master would smile at the world champion checkers master. I was humbled, of course, but also terribly frightened. I couldn’t help but remember the last time Lirpa had visited, and my trip to the ER, followed by six months in rehab. He eagerly thrust his invention at me. Seriously, what the hell was it? An amazingly complex device that would revolutionize the world of audio/video, or an unripe mango that was spray-painted black? Or, knowing Professor Lirpa, it might be both.
“Just hold it in your hands, that’s all,” he suggested. Again, acting unwisely, I took the device into my hands. It was staggeringly heavy, weighing perhaps 20 pounds. “Ha!” he said—“You should have seen the prototype—it was over 10 feet tall.” Then he reached over and pressed the sphere’s button.
Immediately I could see myself leaving my body and rising overhead, then traveling down a tunnel of white light at a furious speed. More important, I was basked in the most wonderful sounds I could ever imagine. Words fail me. I have never heard such sounds except—except for one time when I was little and my father pulled a record from its paper sleeve, placed it on a turntable, positioned the needle, and played the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony for me. That was the sound I could now hear again. I am man enough to tell you that I cried.
“If I can get the radiation levels down to an acceptably safe level, this baby will sell like hotcakes,” he said. I snapped back to reality. It was then that I noticed that he was wearing a lead vest, probably borrowed from some “dentist” as well as the kind of gloves you typically wear when disarming land mines. Then he thrust the precious sphere back into the steamer trunk, and rushed from the room and out into the night.
As it turns out, acute radiation syndrome can be successfully treated with blood transfusions and antibiotics. Nevertheless, they say that my hands will likely glow for the next 10 years, or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. Clearly, as usual, the annual visit of the good Professor Loof Lirpa has taken a heavy toll. On the other hand, OMG—the sound of that orchestra.... I need to get me one of those mangoes.