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.
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.