You Should Write a Book: A True Story
My partner in shenanigans had tears rolling down her cheeks, she could barely breathe, and I’m almost positive I heard a snort. It was about ten in the morning and the follies and debauchery had just begun. I had recently moved back to my hometown and it was her duty to introduce me to everything new and wonderful that developed in my absence over the course of twelve years. Mainly… the rise of our city’s prestigious designation of Beer City USA. She began Orientation Day by driving us to the Downtown Market. The enormous building is filled with the comforting aromas of baked breads, gourmet coffees and pastries with the slightest hint of fresh fish, fresh beef and BBQ. The menu at the first market restaurant we sit down to states that morning mimosas are available and I’m quite certain it’s still morning. The hipster bartender disappoints with his explanation of why they are fresh out of mimosas and we opted for a couple of beers instead. It was definitely noon somewhere in the Atlantic. We are always sitting at the bar when this scene plays out. I think I laughed more when I heard her hysterical laughter, the snort, and then the phrase that we’ve repeated for so many years (and after so many beers) ….
“We should write a book!”
Fast forward a couple of years; same scenario, different bar, similar follies and debauchery, and you will still see the tears, hear the laughter, definitely hear the snort, and the phrase pops up again …
“We should write a book!”
My first thought always revolves around the mystery of why anyone would want to read stories of some middle-aged chic from the Midwest whose children are now young adults. Seriously, the snippets of my insanely ordinary life cannot possibly entertain a crowd of avid book readers. Fast further forward to this morning when I was chatting with my mother on the phone, describing the past twenty-four hours at the Whitman Estates. The evening prior produced crazy storms that knocked out power to thousands of customers. My parents were amongst the thousands. The news of their situation was just another twist to the rusty railroad spike in my already taxed brain. Without power and use of their facilities in light of my current existence, there would be no other solution to my predicament other than to spend the ninety bucks to have the dilemma diagnosed and potentially remedied. After describing my ordeal in great detail and at great length to my mother, (who had been lacking any sort of beverage due to the fact that her coffee maker is not battery powered and, furthermore, she did not have the ingredients to make her own mimosas as a viable substitute) she ended the conversation with laughter and the familiar phrase,
“You should write a book!”
I don’t know what sort of sorcery that woman possesses, but I allowed the thought to fester in my rusty railroad spiked brain and, out of nowhere, I felt the need to sit down at the computer to share the story of how my mother convinced me to write a book, and what conspired after her influential comments about yours truly reminiscing and collecting absurd tales about my life to become the book you chose out of many others on the vast shelves of bestsellers to read.
Well, that’s a problem…
Friday started off as the typical workday morning should. My husband, The Woodsman, his alarm will go off, he will head to the kitchen to make the one thing that creates an approachable me in the office. I will roll out of bed, head for the couch and spend the next ten minutes on my mentally crippling device and await the black, no cream, no sugar, elixir of life. Another ten minutes or so and my alarm will go off reminding me to take the happy pill and start getting myself ready for the next nine hours of travel and cubicle life. After all the fussing and all the ablutions, the next thirty minutes will consist of a peck on the cheek, The Woodsman and I hopping into separate vehicles and drive down the road to spend the next thirty minutes cursing the governor for “fixing the damn roads.” (Anyone who lives in the Mitten State knows that the current governor’s campaign slogan was all about “fixing the damn roads”, which is a fabulous undertaking. Unfortunately for us poor saps, she wanted to do them all at the same time. Brilliant.)
But not this morning.
I’m pretty sure this is just one of many instances where karma steps in for giving those boys an ass kicking in the eighth grade. In my defense, I was being bullied for being a child of small stature. One can only tolerate the taunting and the name calling for so long. In my case, that was approximately 9 years. Not bad considering my level of patience throughout all of elementary school. As a parent, I was encouraged by all the “How-To” books and unsolicited advice to teach my spawn to be the bigger person and walk away from bullies. I skipped that chapter for the most part, it seemed a little farfetched and I was already tossing the “Time-Out” chair to the street. Rest assured and to my knowledge, my children read that chapter on their own. Except for the youngest spawn. I’m secretly proud of her for standing up for herself, and yet slightly relieved that the boy’s parents did not press charges for the pencil stabbing of the hand. But I digress.
This particular morning does not go according to script. It rapidly becomes clear that our well pump is not doing the job it was hired to do back in 1992. The water that was needed to fill the coffee maker with magical life forces only trickles out of the kitchen faucet. A sudden panic ensues and The Woodsman jumps into action. He risks his composure dodging some sketchy webbing while battling spiders in the pump room and does some electrical wiring voodoo ritual managing to get the pump functioning again at exactly 6:01 am. I head straight to the bathroom for my morning routine to freshen up for work (and for the good of all mankind, you’re welcome). After applying conditioner, the panic increasingly begins to set in. The water is beginning to lose pressure, ultimately becoming less and less “shower”-like and more and more like a “sponge left out on the kitchen counter for three days because I’m pretty sure the cleaning fairy will put that crusty little brick back under the sink”-like. The pump had made another failed attempt to function. I search for the proverbial pink slip to hand over to the miserable contraption and frantically wash the lady bits. My time in the shower is over. I am relieved that the conditioner was rinsed completely out before The Trickling and manage to get myself out the door, a peck on the cheek, and down the road to resume my daily cursing of the governor for “fixing the damn roads.”
Eight hours later, I hop back in Morticia and prep myself for more cursing and more driving. Morticia is my chariot, and she’s slightly turbo charged. I bought her on Halloween to treat myself to freedom from twenty-two years in minivan mama-hood. She sparkles in the sun like tiny little diamonds. Spending those eight hours in a cubicle made of foam walls and listening to Neighbor Sally talk incessantly about her vacation to Wisconsin to visit her grandchildren only to return with the plague and threaten the lives of everyone in the office may have been the most uneventful portion of my entire day. At the close of business and eventually arriving at the Estate, I am pleased to discover that not all of the beverages had been consumed the previous night from my little celebration of the fact that my Colorado Trip from Hell- Part Two had been completely cancelled. A tale for another time.
I can’t even begin to tell you the joy one feels in one’s dark little soul after discovering a couple of cold ones in the refrigerator. Such bliss. I still needed to wait until The Woodsman arrived back at the Estate before having any hope of running water. This is where the story takes a complete dive into a dark abyss. The unfortunate part of it all was that I did not have a Collie named Lassie, my name is not Timmy, and my well is not an open pit leading to the center of the Earth from which said Collie would run to the neighbors barking in a panic and running around in sporadic circles until they follow Lassie to the open pit to the center of the earth, all the while asking if I, Timmy, had fallen down the well thus guaranteeing my rescue and a warm blanket. Ahem.
After about an hour of casual sipping and requesting recommendations for well drilling companies on the local Facebook group, my husband arrives and gets down to “brass tacks.” Several minutes and a beverage later, The Woodsman informs me that we need to take a drive thirty minutes out to buy an eighty-dollar part which may or may not resolve the problem. I am not quite sure why this part has to be picked up in BF-Oklahoma; I do not inquire about it and I agree with this plan. What could possibly make things worse, our well pump not working? By the time we return from BF-Oklahoma with the part, it is now eight o’clock. Beverages are low, stomachs are empty, and our plans to attend a gathering for a friend have been thwarted. Hopes are high that the eighty-dollar part that looks like a miniature Flux Capacitor is the solution. We head to the basement to install the part.
I’m the type of spouse whose idea of lending a helping hand includes holding a flashlight to illuminate dark corners and asking questions … thousands of questions. Some are relevant, others take some pretty dark detours from the actual scene and The Woodsman has to reel me back in.
“Why are there two power sources?”
“Why is there a puddle?”
“Shouldn’t you be wearing a shirt?”
“Are you going to electrocute yourself?”
“Should we have 911 on standby?”
“Exactly how big are the spiders in there? Dime sized or Aragog in The Dark Forest sized?”
“Just hold the flashlight please…”
As quickly as that hope arrived, disappointment floods the Estate, unlike actual water … which is what we were hoping for. Only the tears of our ancestors are flowing, as are ours; the Flux Capacitor did not solve the dilemma. We are now facing the grave possibility that we are about to spend a grand portion (pun definitely accurate and intended) of our embarrassingly low retirement fund, and that it will be a week before a drop of water would flow from our pipes. We can only do one thing … head to a local pub for pizza and a beer, spending a generous chunk of the pitiful pot of retirement change. Burying your sorrows in pizza with cheese and toppings that have the same effect on the roof of your mouth as molten lava would on a rubber tire, and then putting out the flames with a cold brewski is the only recommended way to put a Band-Aid on the open wound that was our “no flushing the toilet” situation. It is after ten by the time we return, and it is well past the time we would normally pass out. Tomorrow will be another day to attempt repairs.
To add insult to injury, the next morning I wake up at 5:30 knowing full well it is Saturday. I am not amused. The Woodsman is planning on driving to his parents’ house nearly an hour away to help fix the roof, thus leaving me alone in a waterless environment, desperately needing another pot of magic. I am beginning to convince myself that it is a perfectly rational idea to have a keg of coffee delivered to my door, because there is no way in Hades that I am venturing out in public to Starbucks being this ripe. That would negatively contribute to the already disconcerting O-zone Action Day. It is my job to make the calls and get the quotes should the pump need replacing. I have a few leads and it just so happens that our local well-drilling hero, Steve, is making house calls on a weekend in ninety-degree temps. I have to wait another hour to make my desperate plea for help as it is only seven in the morning. I am anything but rude to those who are willing to follow Lassie to the well and save Timmy.
Let’s take a step back for a moment and just marvel at the fact that I did NOT wake up in the middle of the night to pee. That brought as much joy to my heart as opening the fridge the previous day and discovering the abundance of happy juice. If you have your own spawn, and you are female, you truly understand how ecstatic that would make a person feel. It was a goddam Christmas Miracle. Had I needed to use the facilities as much as I would have on any given night, those three gallons of water we managed to syphon out of the kitchen faucet would have been used to flush the pot instead of being added to the only thing that makes me semi-human and slightly cordial. I cannot imagine the level of cantankerous attitude The Woodsman would have had to endure if my bladder stuck to the script. I love that man, but coffee first … happy later.
I managed to wait until ten minutes before eight prior to calling and begging Steve for help. As it turns out, Steve’s father was responsible for installing the now incapacitated well pump way back in the days before you could buy bras on the internet that advertise half-sized cups so that they close the gap you would have kept your wad of ones in from that time you exchanged them with your daughter so she could have bigger bills that left you looking sort of like a pole dancer on the Las Vegas strip … yeah, that far back. Steve was able to diagnose and fix our slacker pump within the hour. All hail Steve! He opened the gates of the proverbial Hardy Dam and went on his way to save more families from crusty little brick predicaments. The fun didn’t quite end there, oh no. Now that the water was flowing again at semi-optimal pressure (a future story for another day after discussing such things as valves, contacts, and other words of mischief that The Woodsman feels is imperative to improve our lame ass water pressure problem this evening), another problem popped up like those annoying little creatures you would whack on the head at Chuckie Cheese for little paper tickets that you would cash in to get that fake tattoo on your arm. Enter stage left, the Little Sump Pump that Should.
My children may tell you that I maintain composure and do well under pressure in life-threatening and dangerous situations. Ancient stories of my wedding day (which was one of those “hey babe, let’s get married on top of the tallest mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park and declare our love for and commitment to one another” in the middle of a rainstorm where the tallest thing around is every f**king person on top of the goddamned mountain), or finding out that it wasn’t appendicitis nor a hematoma, it was a twin, or even watching the clip fall out of the gun while getting robbed at work and having one of those mom moments where you almost say, “oh hey, Mr. Crackhead, you need help with that? Looks like your clip fell on the floor. Let me just get that for you…” That time my eldest son ended up in the ER, and when my eldest daughter ended up in the ER, and even when my youngest daughter should have gone to the ER, I’m usually cool as a cucumber. For some reason, that cool took a little hiatus and left me freaking out that the sump pump is not pumping and then, upon further investigation, realizing that it has been disconnected from the outlet which is right on the opposite side of the Black Sea that was my laundry room and is rapidly filling up with all the water that is now being pumped by the repairs that our hero, Steve, had just finished 5 minutes ago. I call The Woodsman, who is still about an hour away, and try to explain to him in very rapid, incoherent sentences that the end is near.
“WHAT DO I DO EVERYTHING IS AWFUL HOLY SHIT IT’S FLOODING AND THE PLUG IS WAY OVER THERE AND I DON’T WANT TO ELECTROCUTE MYSELF SHOULD I TURN OFF THE PUMP IT’S FLOODING AND THE SUMP PUMP IS GOING TO GET COVERED HOLY SHIT THIS IS THE APOCALYPSE WHAT DO I DO?”
From here, let’s just say that I did not, in fact, electrocute myself, nor did the apocalypse actually occur. He calmly walked me through the process, the pump was temporarily shut off, milk crates were found, plugs were plugged into the outlet, and the waters of Poseidon subsided. I braved my own creepy webbing and several of Aragog’s children in the garage managed to follow directions to get things running and did it all while listening to The Woodsman on my cell phone that I miraculously did NOT drop into the Black Sea that was my laundry room. I amazed all, even myself.
Explaining all of this to my mother, using far fewer curse words, was somehow entertaining. Not that my prior predicament was chuckle-worthy, but just the way the story was conveyed seemed to gather a few laughs. At the end of the conversation and agreeing with her statement that between myself without water and she without power, we should go camping, that phrase which was so familiar to me whenever my partner in shenanigans and I get together and share an adult beverage or two (who am I kidding? We deplete the supply and have a slumber party), was uttered by my mother:
“You should write a book!”
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