Archive for May, 2005

Bump in the Night

Last night I was awoken from a sound sleep, but did not open my eyes.  I kept still and listened to the sounds of the night, trying to figure out what had interrupted my slumber.  I was about to return to the Red Sox World Series victory parade when the wind outside whistled past the window and my bedroom floor creaked loudly.  Creaking floors tend to arouse my curiosity, so I opened my eyes a crack and quickly surveyed the dark room.

I was startled to see the figure standing in the far corner.  I held my breath and my eyes grew wider as I began to make out the outline of the intruder:  A vaguely recognizable large round head on top of a thin frame.  Something was not right.  Could Mayor McCheese really be standing in the corner of my bedroom at 3:30am?

A closer inspection revealed the figure to be my bedroom fan.  Silly me; Mayor McCheese is probably off playing H.R. Pufnstuf on Broadway somewhere.

The incident reminded me that, as a child, I had a bit of an overactive imagination when it came to non-existent home invaders and other things that went bump in the night.

I was constantly hearing noises in my parents’ house.  The noises scared me, but my father always tried to reassure me that all of the noises were a result of the house “settling”.

I believed him so much that I only called the police twice.

The first time, I was about 10 years old and trying to sleep on a very windy night.  The house was creaking and moaning, and I kept trying to reassure myself that the house was just settling.  I called the police when it began to sound like the house was settling up its way up the stairs to my bedroom with a knife.

The police were very nice.  My father, who got to experience being awakened by the police knocking on our front door, was amazingly calm about the situation.  He told me that the next time I was afraid; I should really wake him up first before calling the police.

He wasn’t home the next time.

I forget where my parents were, but they had gone out.  It was a dark winter evening, and a fresh snow had just fallen.  The house was warm, and I had been lying on the couch in our den watching television.  I had just drifted peacefully into a nap, when…


The door to the den, which had been wide open, had slammed shut.  I bolted straight up on the couch and immediately realized that all of the windows to the house were shut tight, so the door couldn’t have been slammed by the wind.

I called 911.  The police were very nice, but again there was no one in the house.  I still have no idea how that door slammed.

I do have an idea, however, about why the television began mysteriously changing the channels by itself one summer night.

I was in the den watching television that night when the cable channel changed by itself.  I figured that I had accidentally hit the remote control, so I picked it up and changed the channel back.  That was fine for about a minute, until the channel changed again.

This time I had been holding the remote control in my hand.  I was sure that I hadn’t changed the channel.  I remember thinking, “The cable must be on the fritz.”

I changed the channel back and it immediately, with no prompting from me, began to rapidly change stations.  The television then turned itself off.  I began to get goose pimples.

When the television turned itself back on and began once more to channel surf, I threw down the remote and ran to the safety of my bedroom.  I thought that I heard the sound of muffled laughter coming from the kitchen, but I assumed that it was just the house settling.

I later found out that my neighbor, Mr. Cashman, who was more a member of the family than a neighbor, had decided to take advantage of my overactive imagination.  He had been standing outside my house, changing the stations through the den window with his OWN REMOTE CONTROL.

Ha. Ha.  Very funny.  I should have called the police.

Back in the Day Tim 20 May 2005 No Comments

The Book of Elastics

Mike looked at the paper in front of him and practiced the pronunciation once more, “Eck-Lee-See-Asstees”.

“You’ve got it,” I told him. Mike, Colleen, and I were sitting in St. Gabriel the Archangel Church in St. Louis; waiting for our friend’s wedding to start (my wife wasn’t with us because she was in the wedding party). Mike had been asked by the happy couple to perform the first reading, a reading from the book of Ecclesiastes. He was concerned about mispronouncing Ecclesiastes, so he’d been practicing all day.

He had the word written phonetically on a piece of paper. He continued look at the paper and whisper the word under his breath as the music and processional began. It was then that I noticed something strange: No one stood up when the bride and her father walked down the aisle. I kept getting ready to stand up while looking around, but everyone else in the church just sat there, so I sat back down. I’m not sure if it’s a St. Louis thing or not, but here in the northeast everyone always stands to watch the bride walk down the aisle. I wanted to stand up and yell, “Hey, how about a little respect? On your feet!” but I didn’t because, well, I was in a church and all.

As the priest began the opening prayer, Mike leaned over to me and whispered, “I blanked on the word. How do you pronounce it again?”

“Eck-Lee-See-Asstees. You’ve been practicing it all day. You’ll be fine,” I reassured him.

He nodded his head and did his best to look confident. The priest then gave his cue, “Let us be attentive to God’s word.”

Mike marched to the podium, leaned over to look at the reading and said, in a loud and clear voice, “A reading from the book of Elastics.”

My body began to go into small spasms of laughter, which I tried desperately to stifle.

Mike went forward with the reading without incident. However, the people who had prepared the reading for him had neglected to put the traditional ending, “The Word of the Lord” at the end of the passage for him. He finished reading, waited a second, and then looked around, confused. I tried to get his attention and mouth the words to him, but Mike shrugged his shoulders, looked back at the priest, and said, “That’s it?”

He eventually managed to get off of the altar safely, but it wasn’t the end of the fun for Mike.

Before the wedding, there had been some question about how to spell the groom’s last name. When we saw the correct spelling on the wedding program, our friend Colleen realized that she had spelled the groom’s name incorrectly on her check, which was now resting peacefully, along with the card, in a sealed envelope.

She had to tear the envelope open to get the check, void it, and write a new one.

At her request, we stopped at a drug store before the reception so that Colleen could buy a new card. While she was in the store, Mike began to fill out his card. He signed the card, put it in the envelope with a gift, sealed the envelope, and wrote names on the front of the envelope.

Except that he wrote the wrong first name for the groom on his envelope. In fact, the name he wrote was the name of one of the bride’s ex-boyfriends. It would have been more than a little embarrassing to give that card to the newly married couple. “Oops, I’ll be right back,” Mike said, and headed into the drugstore to buy a new card.

Finally, after all of the replacement cards were purchased, we arrived at the reception. Colleen and I got out of the car as Mike filled out his card …and promptly wrote the wrong name on the envelope again.

He’ll be mailing his gift to St. Louis.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 20 May 2005 2 Comments

Hot Flashes

Life is a series of learning experiences, and I have had the benefit of a full education in the last few weeks.

…I had skipped out of work early with my buddy Dan and gone to the Red Sox game last week. The game had started at 1:05pm, and it was now about 4:00. It was the bottom of the 8th inning and the Red Sox held what looked like a commanding 4-1 lead. The Oakland A’s had not looked good at the plate and the game looked to be in the bag.

Can you see where this is going? We broke one of my cardinal rules and left after the bottom of the 8th inning. “This game’s over. Let’s beat the traffic,” we said with smug looks on our faces.

The good news was that we actually got seats on the Green Line. The bad news was that while we were looking at people with purple hair on the train, the A’s came back to score 4 runs in the top of the ninth inning to take a 5-4 lead. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, Jason Varitek roped a line drive into the right field seats to win it for the Red Sox.

So, I paid $40 for a ticket to a Red Sox game and missed the most exciting part of it. Then my friends all mocked me for it. Nice. I will never (ever) leave a Red Sox game early again…

…Apparently it is important that the water be drained from a pool filter before the winter weather arrives. I recently went into my backyard to mow the lawn and noticed that my pool filter had cracked completely in half, and all of the sand had spilled out of it onto the ground. It seems that water tends to expand when it freezes. Who knew…?

…Speaking of my pool, the cover is still on it. On top of the cover is about 2 feet of filthy swamp water, thanks to the constant weekend rain we’ve received all spring. I think there is an entire little swampy ecosystem occurring on top of my pool cover. Wee beasties are being born, living full wee beastie lives, and dying in that makeshift wetland.

I’m waiting for a letter from the state declaring my pool cover a protected wetland area and forbidding me from moving it.

Anyway, I accidentally left the door to my pool area open last weekend, and the next thing I knew, my dog Callie was swimming in the ecosystem. My immediate fear was that the cover would slip from the sides of the pool and trap her under the water, but thankfully the sides held and she emerged safely.

Once out of the pond, she sat there smiling at me, clearly thrilled about the opportunity to cool down in a pool of putrid muck. She was soaking wet and smelled remarkably like the wee beastie poop and corpses that were now matted in her fur.

I can’t really blame her. Dogs, thanks to their predatory nature, prefer to smell like anything that is not a dog.

Her happiness was to be short lived, however, because it was time for a bath. I bribed her into the house with the promise of a dog biscuit and then made a crucial mistake by allowing her to hear the water running in the bathtub.

She immediately began evasive maneuvers, bolting from room to room, stopping periodically during the pursuit to shake and spray brown goop all over the walls. She had gone to a lot of trouble to smell as that badly, and she wanted no part of any bath.

I finally had to pick her up and carry her struggling mass of nasty fur into the bathroom, a process which also covered me in wee beastie poop. Yuck. The stuff must be good for the skin, though, because I was absolutely glowing afterwards…

So, it’s been a long week here in the School of Life. I can’t wait for summer vacation.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 20 May 2005 No Comments

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