Many years we have come here, many years we have received our sub-optimal placement on the expo floor, and many years we have had to argue our product’s viability as ‘patio furniture,’ all the while hoping for a singular outcome. And this year, friends, it has come to fruition. But today is much bigger than us. That our torture box won ‘Best In Show’ speaks volumes about this home and garden exhibition’s desire for change.

Consider the aesthetics. Are the other exhibits more beautiful than the torture box? Undoubtedly. Are the gazebos, the model koi ponds, the etched stones — are they more refined? To be sure. Do they exude more warmth? That actually depends on whether or not the torture box’s ‘flame therapy’ feature has been initiated. But the point stands: it isn’t as inviting as some of the more traditional exhibits. And yet, these traditional exhibits are the status quo. They are boring, uncreative. They are as old and stagnant as the oil in cauldron on the torture box’s lever-controlled overhead drop-shelf is fresh and boiling.

But our arrival at this juncture should not be considered sudden. As we said, we have been here for years. While you argued over orchids, we held our tongues. Quite literally in Terry’s case. Terry’s our QA specialist in charge of testing the torture box’s tongue clamps. Full stretch, no separation, right Terry?

Sometimes we’d leave our booth and walk the floor. We’d stop and chat about rainproof patio varnish or flower boxes made from reclaimed wood, and feel the scorn of our fellow exhibiters for our lack of knowledge. Every conversation was like walking on eggshells, which is a sensation we’re familiar with, as the torture box’s floor is covered in a layer of tiny, razor sharp eggshell shards.

Inevitably, the conversation would turn to us. “Where’s your booth?” the other exhibitors would ask. We’d point to our ramshackle torture box, and they’d laugh and laugh. Well, who’s laughing now? Or, who’s laughing now, other than Terry? Terry really can’t stop laughing these days. Ol’ Laughin’ Shakin’ Terry! That’s his nickname around here!

But again: this isn’t about us. This is about change. This is about the five exhibition judges coming together and saying, “Hey, let’s try something new on for size.” This is about the five judges, who year after year reward ornate bird baths or dragonflies made from copper pipe wound around muted green and purple marbles, deciding to finally do it: to finally set foot in the torture box. And this is about the two judges who made it out alive and agreed to give us whatever we wanted as long as we promised never to send them back in there. That, folks, is called progress.

In short, we did it. We stuck it to the established exhibitors who’ve long lorded over this home and garden exhibition. We said, “no more!” and broke free of the shackles that held our industry down. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Don’t worry! This baby’s still got plenty of shackles and nobody’s breaking out of them any time soon!

This isn’t just a win for the torture box. This is a win for all of us. There’s victory in the air, people! Breathe it in! But first, take a few steps back. Honestly, you shouldn’t stand that close to the torture box without a mask on.