Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Great Sheet Surprise of 1999

My girls, still happy despite their childhood sheet surprise. 
No doubt a little dumber, but also a little wiser.

I'm pretty sure my students are trying to kill me.  Which I suppose is only fair, now that I've added 'tasing' to the list of remedies for poor practice habits.  Hey.  I've been doing this for thirty years.  No questioning the master.

So, as you no doubt recall, I was infirm all of last week because the previous week every single student passed through the McTyphoid drive-up window on their way to my house.

And now, today, a student arrived with a concussion!

Can you believe the audacity of some people?? 

Have I not made it crystal clear that I catch everything?  Why, just last week I refused to let the cable guy in after he admitted to having prostate troubles.  Like I need that in my life right now.  I mean, come on, dude, take a sick day.

And speaking of amusing incidents involving head injuries, have I ever told you the story of the sheet?  And the air conditioners?  Are you sure?  Because this one just kills 'em down at the lodge.

I'm putting this picture of Puerto Rico here, because I think that late winter is the perfect time
to brag about having lived in the Caribbean for four years.  You're welcome.

When we lived in Puerto Rico, we had a doorway in the middle of our house that was lacking a door.  Of course, when we first purchased the home, it was also lacking air conditioning and screens for the windows.  Rumor had it that the previous owners had been devoured by the giant, man-eating mosquitoes we found reading the newspaper and playing bridge in the parlor, and in their last courageous act of rebellion, you know, before the mosquitoes ate them and stuff, the previous owners wood-chippered the screens and dynamited all the air conditioners.

No one claimed the previous owners were smart.

Anyway, on the day we moved into the house, our first act was to cower in terror as we watched the giant, man-eating mosquitoes perform dramatic interpretations of free-verse poetry, totally thumbing their probosci at our threats to write unfavorable reviews in Variety.  

Our second act was to remember that my husband was a federal agent, leading to our third act, namely dragging the mosquitoes before a grand jury and then shooting them.  The mosquitoes, I mean.

Several federally sanctioned acts later, we installed air conditioners. 

Now, for those of you who live in places like Nome or Minnesota, you may be wondering, "Why does she keep saying 'conditioner-s,'?  Also, since when do mosquitoes have thumbs?"

Well, let me tell you.  In areas where 'central heating' just means 'everywhere,' there is no such thing as duct work in the houses.  So if you feel the need to cool the air in your home down to, say, less than a billion degrees, you have to install what are called 'split units' in individual rooms.  The fan part is inside, and in Puerto Rico the compressors are usually mounted on the roof.

Isn't this a terribly exciting picture? 
Aren't you glad I finally learned how to upload images to my blog?

(In a jolly little side note, my husband spent most of Hurricane Georges wrapped bodily around our air conditioning compressors, determined to keep them attached to the roof by sheer force of will and 180 pounds of husband.  Neighbors reported hearing a deranged scarecrow atop our house screeching "Is that all you got?  IS THAT ALL YOU GOT??" into the storm.  But these same neighbors prepared for the hurricane by pumping 20,000 gallons of Dos Equis directly into their swimming pool, so you really can't believe everything they said.)

Anyway, we put air conditioners in the back of our house, where the bedrooms were.  And we put an air conditioner at the front of our house, in the family room.  But for reasons that can only be described as "idiotic," we didn't see fit to put any air conditioners in that part of the house where we kept, for instance, the oven.

Now, the family room stayed cool as long as we kept the door closed.  However, as you've already surmised, the back of the house was accessed through the empty doorway.

"What to do?  What to do?" we college graduates pondered. "What could we possibly suspend in that rectangular space that would have any chance of closing off the back of the house, thereby containing the cool air so we are not sauteed in our beds during the night?"

It was a real stumper.

At last, one of our children said, "How about putting a door there?"  To which we replied, "Shut up."

And that was how we wound up using thumbtacks to hang up a sheet.

No, that's not a thumbtack. This sheet owner has a lot  more class than we had.

Boy, was it every bit as attractive and aesthetically pleasing as it sounds!  And it had the exceptional talent of regularly spitting its thumbtacks onto the floor - usually on the opposite side from the unsuspecting and unfortunately barefoot family member passing through the sheet on their way to what would turn out to be a search for the first aid kit.

But what it lacked in feng shui, or even the barest minimum of good taste, it more than adequately made up for in entertainment possibilities, culminating in the Great Sheet Surprise of 1999.

And in one of those rare moments that every mother prays for, I got to see the whole thing.

As I stood in the kitchen, inhaling survivalist quantities of Diet Coke and testing the theory that no matter how much you sweat over a sinkful of dishes in the sweltering Caribbean heat, your face will not, in fact, slide off your skull and down the disposal, I heard my daughter Corinne say something from her bedroom like, "Oh man, I'm missing Wall Street Week," at which point she bounded off her bed and bolted pel-mel up the hall toward the sheet.

At the same time, Vanessa flung open the family room door and shot through the kitchen to retrieve something of grave importance from her bedroom while her television show was in commercials.

And from the opposite direction as Cori, she, too, was doing warp eight toward the sheet.

It all happened so fast. 

Both girls hit that sheet at full throttle, and what should have been a soft, breezy passage instantly turned into a solid wall of 'invisible other sister,' knocking their heads together like a couple of stunned coconuts and then rebounding them onto their butts.

I assume they spent a few seconds rubbing their heads and wondering what in the hello Aunt Nelly had just happened, and then followed it up by several minutes of bawling and hurling recriminations at one another for what could not possibly, in any universe, have been an accident.

I wouldn't know. 

I was fetal with hysterics, doubled over and whooping myself into a urinary tract infection at the perfect Warner Brothers moment that had just played itself out in my kitchen.

We all did things that day we later regretted.  My girls ran through the house despite eighty gazillion warnings about the dangers of doing so, and the loss of IQ points probably cost them an Ivy League education.

I laughed long and hard with a bladder full of Diet Coke, overtaxing certain muscles to the degree that I now have to cross my legs every time I sneeze.

And we all learned the lesson I had to teach a piano student today:

Concussions are contagious.  You can catch them from your sister.


Garden of Egan said...

I hear that pregnancy is contagious as well. Use caution.
You may want to cross your legs for more than just sneezing.

So it is nice to know that I am not the only mother that lacks compassion when one of the offspring presents with an injury.

OK, the cable guy was discussing his prostate with you? Are you sure your shingle says "piano teacher"?
Or does it say "prostate preacher"?

Hope you are enjoying your warm weather.....I know that V and I are freezing our prostates off!

hellomynameissusan said...

Well, as the mother of a scout who twisted his arm behind his back tumbling down the mt while snowboarding, I agree that certain things are contagious. I mean the Prince wound up in a sling but the boy he was w/ wound up on a backboard being towed down the mt by the ski patrol & then hauled across town in an ambulance. Yep, totally contagious. And my daughter loved hearing me snort (sorry, no dt coke this am - I am failing in my mormon mommy duties)after reading this post.
Good morning to you!

Momza said...

Where to start? oh forget it--I heard the saying: "Insanity is hereditary--you get it from your kids" when I was younger, and now that I'm almost half-a-century-years-old, I'd stand on a stack of bibles in the Supreme Court and testify that it's True!!

Oh and the sheet hanging from the ceiling...I grew up in Miami, Florida with no a/c--my folks had a little window unit in their bedroom, and when it was exceptionally hot, my father hung a sheet at the end of the hallway to the bedrooms, so us kids would shut up and go to sleep! I know all about random tacks awaiting bare feet. Owie.

Kristina P. said...

Owie!! I'm sure if they are anything like you, they both have extremely hard heads.

Becca said...

"Thumbing their probusci" must be the name of your next garage band. It must.

Barbaloot said...

I so wish that was something that had been captured on video.

Is it even possible to play a musical instrument with a concussion? Or at least play it well?

Melanie Jacobson said...

The first month we moved to California, there was an earthquake. My brother, sister, and I all jumped up and bolted for the nearest doorway. I got there first and proceeded to push the other two out. This was my first inkling that my mother was right when she said we needed to work on family togetherness.

Lisa Loo said...

It took me quite awhile to get past the visual of your deranged scarecrow incident!

I never thought about "tasering" my students ---I bow and worship at the master's feet....

Kazzy said...

Hilarious! I am glad you laughed, because I would have fallen right onto the floor in convulsions!

How about those clear shower curtains??

wendy said...

Oh my gosh....you are the best writer. You should write a weekly (before you get your daily contract) article for your newspaper. I had a good laugh with this one.

I always tend to laugh at other's mishaps too.

annie valentine said...

Weddings are contagious so watch out.

Qait said...

Hahhaha, that's great! Oh, so many times I have to hide my face when Ender gets whopped...and I don't always succeed...
But you know what? My son has a bowling ball for a head. I'm usually the one hurt after concussive incidents.

T said...

that was SO worth waiting for it to come full circle :)

I never knew you could laugh yourself into a UTI... that explains a LOT about my life.

AS Amber said...

Oh my heck, sister, every single bit of this post was HILARIOUS. I love that I know these girls and can picture the whole thing going down. You musta been living right that day to have been able to see it. When I get to heaven I'm going to ask to see the video of it.

That and the video of Romeo holding down your a/c.

Seriously, you've outdone yourself. Again. So freaking funny.

Krissy said...

Holy cow, is your writing ever vivid! I can so see your husband on that roof, and I got many chuckles out of this post.


Karen Peterson said...

I caught a concussion once. Stupid Canada.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

You've probably never heard this before, but you tell a pretty good story. :)

And my son caught a concussion (and a skull fracture) from the back of our house. If he stayed away up on the hill with his sled, he would have been fine, but no... had to canoodle with the contagious stucco wall.

M-Cat said...

I picture a furtive eyed, dark haired, tall man clinging to an air compressor shouting to the heavens to bring it on, while the wind rages around him. You, my friend, are a master story teller!

I thought federal agents were too good to get up on top of the roof? I thought they were so secret, they had to have the OTHER undercover, top secre, feds do it for them?

Alison Moore Smith said...

Hi, just letting you know that you were nominated for Best LDS Female Solo Blogger of 2010. :)


Charlotte said...

I am trying to figure out where I can hang a sheet in my house in the hopes that I can recreate such wholesome entertainment.

L.T. Elliot said...

The image of your hubby screaming into the wind, wrapped around the air conditioner has me "overtaxing certain muscles to the degree that I now have to cross my legs every time I sneeze."

So, you know, thanks for that. ;)

alison said...

it's been awhile since i read anything that caused me to laugh out loud, so thanks...mentally picturing two of my own offspring slamming into each other in same manner...i won't even go into how possible it is in our home since we have curtains strung over a doorway to keep heat in during winter...but i digress.

visiting from sits and you hooked me...now following.


stuff and nonsense

The Dutch Girl said...

There is absolutely nothing wrong with hanging a sheet in the doorway. In our case it's a curtain to keep the cold air out. (We live in Wisconsin.) And so far, only the cat has happened upon a few surprises.

Happy SITS Day! I wish I could come listen to you in San Diego. Alas (not really), I am returing to Holland for a quick visit.

Enjoy the comment love today.

Angie said...

Happy SITS day! I don't always find time to read as much on each blog as I would like to but for you....I did. Your blog is like a good book that I just can't bring myself to stop reading.

Have a great day!

Marie said...

Soooo well written and I felt like I was there.

misssrobin said...

I can admit it, you had me giggling.

Mrs. Mootz said...

Oh no! HAHAHAHA! Although I can relate. When you have a sister, nothing is ever an accident. It's always her fault :)

Sharon said...

This is so funny! I now have a great image in my head of those girls running into each other. I can relate to the now ducting for heat or air conditioning! We lived like that in Hawai'i! At least we had screens.

Zeemaid said...

*LOL* There's almost too much in this post... deranged scarecrow.. not how we usually envision the MIB.

Glad to know I'm not the only one to laugh when my kids do something funny even if it hurts. Course I'm all sympathy the next minute and have to apologize for 20 just for laughing but still...

Katy said...

Haha, that is awesome!! Found your blog from SITS featured blogger and so glad I did! I'm your newest follower-catch me at http://grabenandgabi.blogspot.com

Morgan said...

What a hoot! Lovely storytelling, too!

Visiting from SITS :)

The Lovely One said...

I loved the husband on the roof! That's totally something my husband would do!