First, go without a TV for at least two years—four if you can swing it. Find yourself at parties unable to laugh convincingly at the jokes people make about funny commercials because you are hopelessly out of touch with the latest marketing campaigns. Come to the realization that you could encounter any number of reality TV stars and never know it—that you probably have encountered dozens already, and are completely unaware of your many brushes with near-fandom. Develop neck pain from craning to marathon-watch episodes of Arrested Development and How I Met Your Mother on your iPad propped up on your coffee table whilst you lie on the couch.
Wake up one Saturday morning, a Saturday like any other, and make The Decision: Today is the day you are going to buy a television, Goddammit.
A part of you will know that you are clearly not thinking straight. That you should at least research a few different types of television sets and then make an informed decision.
I cannot stress enough how imperative it is that you do not listen to that part of you. If you do, you will never successfully mount a television to your wall, because you will never be the owner of a television. That’s just a fact. That part of you will get to its little researching project and fall into the Internet rabbit hole and not come up for air until you’ve decided not to purchase a television but to preorder a pair of those fancy Google glasses you’ve heard so much about. Or—worse still—that both purchases are impractical and should not be undertaken at this time. Do not listen if you want to succeed at this endeavor. And you do, of course. You want it more than anything else in the world because it’s Saturday morning and this is what you have decided to do with your day.
Take a shower but don’t wash your hair. (There’s no time. The urges for impulse purchases have a very short shelf life.)
Then, send a text message to your guy friend. You know the one—you tried to make something happen with him once and he turned you down but you’re still friends. Kind of. Friends enough to text about tools, anyway. Ask him if you can borrow his electric drill and his stud finder. If you’re feeling ballsy, ask if you can borrow a level, too. This is risky, because there is no way in hell that he’ll believe that you know what to do with a level. In all likelihood, you will opt to omit this step (and that’s OK).
He’ll respond to let you know that he only has an electric drill. Do not be discouraged that he doesn’t also have a stud finder. A quick Google search will tell you that anyone can find a stud by just knocking on the wall and listening for when the wall is no longer hollow. That sound means there’s a stud beneath it, obvi. Tell yourself that even a monkey could find a stud without a stud finder. Really believe this. Also believe in yourself as a member of human society who is able to hold your hand straight. People can do that. They can. Believe it.
Swing by his place to pick up the electric drill on your way to Target. Get excited. You are buying a fucking TV!
Put about $100 worth of merchandise that has nothing to do with your television purchase into your cart—include some toothpaste, face soap, three sundresses that you’re pretty sure you like the look of but you’ll have to double check when you get to your mirror at home—and some gum. Do not forget the gum.
When you get to the electronics section, tell the guy at Target you’ll take that one. The one that is semi-cheap but not the cheapest. That’s your best bet. Do no other market research other than this because, time. Buy the wall mount on the same premise. Not the cheapest, but the next cheapest. Like wine. That one will work. (Ed. note: The Wirecutter addresses just this type of problem.)
Tell the guy assisting you at Target you are impulse buying a television. Watch the concern wash over his face. Ignore it.
Don’t look at those numbers that appear on the register’s screen after he rings you up. Just swipe your card. Plastic through plastic to purchase more plastic. When it comes down to it, you’re just playing adult LEGOs, really. Stacking pieces of plastic. Never mind that you’ve just spent half a month’s rent. The money wasn’t ever real anyway. At the end of the day all money is is numbers online that you get to look at when you enter your password onto a website. Another game.
Take the television home and half-panic when you realize you’re going to have to lift the thing out of your car and carry it to your apartment door without any help. At Target, there had been a guy with a dolly. Here, it’s all you, sweetheart.
Flex. Tell yourself you’re Rosie the Riveter. Try to lift with your knees and not with your back, whatever that means.
Don’t drop it, and get it to your fucking door. Grunting like a gorilla in heat will help with this. You can also set it down halfway through, but no more than that or you’ll surely just flop down beside it and break down and call that guy you borrowed the drill from and beg him to carry your television for you the last five feet, and that will be pathetic.
Get inside. You’ve made it without dropping it. Congratulations. Take a nice deep breath before you realize that you do not have the wall mount. You purchased it, but it is not on your person, nor is it in your car.
Call Target. They’ll have it, and will tell you, with much judgment, that you left it in a bag in the parking lot. Ignore the snotty customer service rep’s tone, and thank her.
Get back in your car and drive back to Target. Grab the bag full of $80 worth of merchandise that you left behind for anyone to take, and drive back home. Do not beat yourself up too much about having forgotten to take your entire purchase with you in your car. After all, you’re a baller, able to blow half a month’s rent on a toy. Clearly, $80 is nothing to you. You’re rollin’ in the dough, you professional woman, you.
When you get home with everything, take it all out of the packaging, and read the instructions on the wall mount. Read them again. Then a third time. Now you’re ready.
The first step is to drill two evenly spaced, level holes. Pick up the borrowed drill, then realize you need to charge the battery. Plug it in and charge it. Do some laundry. Maybe even hand wash some underwear. (This will take a while.)
When the laundry’s in the wash, work on finding where exactly you should make these holes. Find the studs by knocking on the wall. If you listen carefully, you can do this. If you don’t, you’re fucked. Listen carefully. Hollow…hollow..hollow…STUD! Holy fuck, that sound’s the stud, right? (It is.) Mark that shit. Do it again at the same height (maybe using measuring tape, or even if a string if you have it) and find the next one. Mark it. Feel like a boss.
Take the drill, now fully powered, and try your hand at the totally level holes you’ve marked.
At this point, you may find that the studs are wooden and that your friend’s drill works perfectly. If that’s the case, the holes are made and you’re able to go on your merry way.
You may find that the studs are steel and the drill in hand is a poor match for them.
If this is the case, do not despair. Home depot sells drills powerful enough for steel and you may as well invest in one because you’re clearly now a superhero who will be using a drill all of the goddamned time. Go ahead and drive to Home Depot and let the salesman talk you into the $80 drill on sale because it’s a great deal. It comes with two drills with bits and batteries and, as the salesman will tell you, the batteries are worth more than the cost of the drill on sale. For the love of God, don’t listen to the voice in your head that tells you that you’ll only use this drill one time. You will never succeed if you listen to that voice. That voice is a fucking killjoy, so you kill it.
Back home, charge that drill. Dry and fold your laundry. Put it in drawers for once, because you have that kind of time. Then, refreshed, bring yourself to the task again. Find the marked holes and drill. Feel amazing. You are putting holes through motherfuckin’ steel.
Read the rest of the directions and take out the pieces supplied with the mount. Realize that they gave you bolts, not screws, that require a wrench, not a screwdriver, and that you do not have a wrench. Decide that the pliers you have will work. Try to manhandle those bolts in as best you can. Get them about halfway through. Get to the point of blisters so that you know you really cannot try to do this anymore.
Accept partial defeat. Rationalize things. Tell yourself you absolutely cannot go to Home Depot to buy a wrench. When in God’s name will you ever use a wrench again? Truly? The drill was different, but a wrench? Fuck the wrench. You aren’t buying one. What are you, made of money?
Break down and do it. Call that other guy. The one that you wanted to sleep with until you learned about his live-in girlfriend that you’d never heard about because he let you believe he didn’t have a girlfriend at first, and she was never around. The one who texted you earlier when he saw your post on Facebook saying that you were trying this endeavor on your own. Sure, you told him when he texted earlier that you had it covered and didn’t need his help, but you were wrong, clearly.
Just shoot him a text to see if he has a wrench. It’s just a wrench, for Christ’s sake. It’s not like it’s sex and a wrench.
He’ll have one and will come right over. And, because he can’t help himself, he’ll check to be sure you’ve found the studs. He’ll use an actual stud finder. He’ll be surprised that you have found them with the power of ears. He’ll then check to be sure the holes are level. And he’ll be shocked that you made them level with the power of mind bullets. Then he’ll take an electric wrench out of his fancy-pants tool kit with a million different size wrench options and will be able to find the one that fits the bolts for the mount exactly, and will put the screws into the wall in a half a second. Accept the fact that that would have taken you hours and given you blistered hands with the pliers, and offer him a drink because it’s polite.
Be both pleased and offended when he turns you down. Wonder a little bit about life and people and why things are the way they are. Then make awkward small talk for 10 minutes about the weather and your jobs. Whatever passes the time. Eventually he'll leave and you’ll feel good for not being that girl, and also like you’ve left something unfinished. But then you’ll realize that he’s an ass, and that you got the one thing out of all of it that you needed: bolts screwed into a wall.
And BAM, like that, you have a mounted television. Easy-peasy. Now press play and enjoy. You have a lot of pop culture catching up to do. Chew the gum, too. Be glad you bought that. It will mask the cigarette smoke. Because it took at least a pack and a half to get through this Saturday.