Thursday, December 30, 2010

Guess Who Destroyed a Smoke Alarm? (Hint: Not Baby Bear, and Not Mr. Lucky)

It was me—yes, Karen!—in another one of those “this could only happen when the husband’s away” moments:

The day after Christmas, Mr. Lucky went up to Georgia to see his parents, taking with him the Crown Prince and Bart the chocolate beagle. I’d had trouble sleeping the previous night, and so was not at my best—whatever that is, since I’m not sure I’ve ever been there. Part of the problem was two boys who don’t seem to need as much sleep as I do—both the Crown Prince and Baby Bear were up very early Sunday morning, and I simply cannot sleep when the younger boy is awake. Terrible things are more likely to happen if I do. Mr. Lucky attributed our sons’ wakefulness and energy to the excitement of Christmas.

After they went to Georgia, I was really hoping to get a better night’s sleep. But alas . . .

At approximately 2:30 am, I was awakened by the regular chirping of the smoke alarm. It chirped about every minute or so, calling for a new battery.

Why? Why, oh why did it have to start doing this at 2:30 in the morning? Why did it have to do this when I had very little sleep the previous night? And why did it have to be on a night when Mr. Lucky was away?

At first, I thought I could ignore it and go back to sleep, but that wasn’t happening. As I stumbled out of our bedroom, which is just off the family room, I could hear the chirping right over my head, where there was one of the many smoke alarms scattered throughout our house.

We have ten foot ceilings, and I was in no mood to go out to the garage and drag in the stepladder. I grabbed a broom and a chair from the dining table, and poked at the smoke alarm till it fell open to reveal the battery.

I tore out the battery. Still the alarm chirped. I said some very, very bad words and began beating the smoke alarm till the casing broke off, revealing all the tiny little bits and wires and doodads inside.

And still it chirped.

More banging and stabbing with the broomstick ensued, till something snapped and sparked, and the other half of the smoke alarm clattered to the floor, leaving only wires dangling out of a hole in the ceiling. YET IT WAS STILL CHIRPING!

How to shut it up? I didn’t know where Mr. Lucky was keeping the hammer this week, and I was in no mood to ransack the house looking for it.

I thought of grabbing the shovel and digging a hole in the backyard to bury the alarm, but it was too cold and dark outside. So I did the next best thing—I rushed it out to the garage and shoved it under a pile of stuff, hoping that would stifle the persistent chirping.

Yet when I returned to the family room, I could still hear loud chirping from the ceiling.

So I started yanking at the wires that dangled from the hole, till there was nothing left to yank. After the snap and spark, I dared not go further. But it wouldn’t stop chirping.

I was furious and frustrated. I went back to bed and drove myself insane wondering how I could muffle that infernal chirping until Mr. Lucky came home . . . in another three days.

Where’s the duct tape? Suppose I took that whole bag of cotton balls beneath the bathroom sink, and taped it over the hole? And suppose I added the complete Sunday edition of the St. Pete Times, would that be enough?

These were the crazed, deranged thoughts racing through my mind as I struggled in vain to go back to sleep. I was at least thankful that Bart was in Georgia. That particular dog would’ve gone nuts from the chirping. Only Jasper has the good sense to go into hiding and stay there.

It didn’t help my mood when Mr. Lucky’s alarm clock went off at 7:30 am. My own alarm clock is so easy to turn on and off—it has a huge snooze button I can pound with my fist—but Mr. Lucky’s clock is all tiny identical buttons set into the casing, and you have to hope you hit the right one with either your fingernail or a very pointy stylus sold separately.

That’s why whenever his alarm clock goes off and he’s not here, I just rip the cord out of the socket.

To continue with the smoke alarm that wouldn’t die, it wasn’t till after I’d had at least one cup of coffee that I realized the chirping came not from that ugly hole I’d left in the ceiling outside our bedroom, but from the smoke alarm in the opposite corner of the family room . . . outside Mr. Lucky’s man-cave.

I’d attacked the wrong smoke alarm.

Well? It was the middle of the night! I was tired! I was ticked! And I swear the chirping had been coming from the smoke alarm outside our bedroom!

I wasn’t even sure we had any 9-volt batteries in the house. There were none in the cupboard where I kept all the other batteries (mostly AA’s for Baby Bear’s toys), so I rummaged through the “junk drawer” in the kitchen. Whenever he deigns to put anything away, no matter what it is, Mr. Lucky always crams it into that drawer.

But it was there that I unearthed an unopened package of 9-volt batteries. They’d probably been there since we moved in, and with my rotten luck, they were no longer any good.

Yet when I switched one out with the old battery in the smoke alarm, the chirping finally ceased.

When Mr. Lucky came home, he was appalled by what I’d done to the other smoke alarm. “I can’t believe you totally destroyed it,” he said.

“You had to be here,” was all I could say. “Under the circumstances, I really think you would’ve done the same. I’ve seen how you are whenever you use the broiler and the one in the kitchen goes off.”

“But I’ve never torn the whole thing off the ceiling and smashed it to smithereens!” he exclaimed. “You’re dangerous, Karen.”

I don’t know if he’s ever given me a finer compliment.


Phyllis J. Towzey said...

Karen, that's one of the funniest stories I've ever heard! Thanks for brightening my day :)

Phyllis J. Towzey said...

Karen, that's one of the funniest stories I've ever heard! Thanks for brightening my day :)

Old Goat said...

Karen: You should take a night class in smoke alarm repair and maintenance. You can't go on WRECKING them the rest of your life!

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