Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Suicide Pact

I suppose it started late one night, after everyone was fast asleep in their beds, when the appliances entered into a secret pact to end their lives at a determined time. They got together one night when the house was dark and quiet and they knew no one else was around. The refrigerator turned on its ice dispenser light and the oven cracked its door so a soft yellow glow filled the kitchen. I don’t know which one of them first came up with the idea. Maybe it was the fridge, he’s new to the group, but my suspicions lie with the microwave, the oldest and probably most wise. I picture him saying, “Gentleman and lady [the dishwasher is a woman], I think there comes a time in every appliance’s life that they go off into the world to seek a new fortune.” They huddled around to listen to the microwave and decide their fate. “We have served our duty well, but there is more for us than this kitchen and this house. We must find out what the Fates have in store for us and follow in the footsteps of the dryer.”

Perhaps depression was the catalyst, maybe I didn’t talk to them enough (cussing at them probably made it worse), but it was something that started it all. Ultimately, I blame the dryer, whose untimely demise signaled the beginning of the end for the remaining appliances, and the die was cast (or is it dye?). Instead of the microwave, I bet the dryer was the leader (he does have the biggest mouth), and the remaining appliances decided they didn’t want to live in a world without the Roper dryer. Sure, I bought an exact replica of the old Roper, but I’m sure they could tell. It wasn’t the same, and I’ll bet that made it worse for them, thinking they were duped into believing I resurrected their leader, when it was really just a dryer who knew nothing of life in our house.

Then the water heater decided to leak. Sure, I fixed it, but that lasted about a week, as another leak developed from another divot at the top of the water heater. Since I ran out of Por-15, I used plumber’s putty and a healthy dose of rust-inhibiting primer paint over the leak. I know, Mickey Mouse, but it beats replacing it at least for another couple of weeks until it starts to look like a water feature in the park.

Last week, if you remember my post, I noticed that the refrigerator was making this hideous noise every time the compressor kicked on, a noise akin to the death-throws of a major appliance. However, for some odd reason, I haven’t heard it again (he chickened out of the pact I’m guessing), but I’m a little leery of its loyalty to the kitchen and its job. One day, I expect to find a puddle of water under it and my milk lukewarm.

At the same time, the washing machine is making a scary scythe-on-metal grinding noise during the spin cycle, and it’s still doing it. The good news is that it isn’t getting worse, but I think its days are numbered. I think it knows it too.

Yesterday, I thought it a good idea to bake a cake for no reason what so ever (I’m funny like that), and the oven took an hour to heat up to a miserly 350-degrees. Now, I know my way around an oven, as I am an award-winning baker (granted, it’s the County Fair, but the ribbons are still blue), so an hour to warm up is beyond the realms of convenient. It’s on its way out and I don’t think there’s a lot I can do to stop it. If I could fill a book with what I know about a water heater, I can’t write a paragraph about the oven.

On top of which, I don’t trust the dishwasher; it’s a little wishy-washy, as sometimes the dishes are sparkly and sometimes they’re a little crusty and have to go another round. It’s either getting lazy or it has decided to end it all.

So, there’s something amiss here in the kitchen, and every time I walk in there, it’s as if I just interrupted a secret conversation among conspirators. It’s oddly quiet, almost spooky, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I came downstairs one dark and stormy night—much like tonight—to find the toaster strung up by its cord in the middle of the room with a note pined to the crumb catcher that reads: “Good bye cruel world. I burned your bagels for the last time.”

I think I see some new appliances in my future… might as well get them all at the same time while I’m at it: water heater, dishwasher, microwave, stove and washing machine. If only I hadn’t spent three grand on a set of wheels and tires. Hmmmm, it isn’t irony, I know, but perhaps an unfortunate coincidence that all of this is happening. At least, when I go and pick up the replacements in my truck, I'll look good doing it.

In local news, it was a record hot spell today, at least it should be a record, as it was hotter today than any day I can remember in recent history (the record high for this region in July was 110 degrees in 1977). I have three thermometers that I refer to throughout the day: The one outside on the patio post peaked out at 115 degrees this afternoon, while the one in my truck measured 113, and the one in the bathroom (that reads a sensor in the backyard) topped out at 110 degrees. The one in the bathroom records the highest and lowest temperatures, and the recent high was 119 and the low was 80, but that’s the result of direct sunlight. So, whichever you subscribe to, it still equates tremendous heat, oppressive heat, like a burning thumb pushing you into the ground.

I wanted to crack an egg on the blacktop in the street, but when I thought to do it, humidity reached 100 percent and it started to rain. That was soon followed by thunder and lightning that had Natalie running for cover. I suppose it is my fault that she’s afraid of it, as I used the the scary thunder as an excuse to get her to come in the house this evening, saying it would get her if she didn’t come inside for dinner. Now, to her, thunder is this personified boogieman haunting the backyard just outside the windows waiting to get in. There goes my Father of the Year award for sure now.

Matthew is sick with a horrendous cough and sounds like a smoker in an old folks' home. I’m sure it is daycare related, but I can’t prove it. He’s been miserable that last couple of days, and it is worst for him right when he wakes up or after a bottle of milk.

The last few days have been a zoo around here, so much so, that my new name is the zookeeper, like some kind of weird comic book superhero who just runs around making sure nobody lops off a finger, fills a diaper to capacity or runs out of juice and animal crackers. I’m not very good at it truth be told: In a matter of 10 minutes, Kara cut her finger with a potato peeler, Elsa threw up on the kitchen floor and Natalie had an accident on the way to the bathroom. The delightful part for her is that she pointed out to me with glee that her pee was shaped like a fish (there’s a poem in there somewhere…glee, me, pee, she). I’m not sure what the deal is with her eliminations and their association with shapes, but it really was shaped like a fish, a big wet goldfish on the bathroom floor much like the Jesus fishes on the backs of people’s cars. She was embarrassed by the accident, but proud of the artwork.

I’m just glad that I’m pulling up the carpet in a couple of weeks. More on that later.

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