It’s been a while because I’ve been up to my butt in storms, household preparation, and the academic administrative fallout therefrom, and the usual slew of stuff that hits any college professor at this time of the term. So in lieu of an uninteresting gripe about the Vagaries of Fortune, I present this Classic Piece of Literature from the Vaults.
Dateline: January 22, 2010
Last night I woke up to the smell of overheated metal.
I poked The Spouse, since I consider it to be the Responsibility of the Man to investigate strange noises and odors in the middle of the night. I don’t mind plumbing issues, home repairs, and contractors, but I draw the line at insects, vermin, and intruders.
Roy was minimally cooperative with this agenda. He staggered out onto the landing (the third floor of four) and asserted “it [was] nothing”. I had visions of some appliances shorting out, or the furnace blazing up, and let him know that he needed to actually canvass the whole house, not just blow smoke out his butt in the hopes that he could go back to bed. He did a 3/4-assed job of it, barely enough to satisfy me that the house was NOT in immediate danger of going up in smoke, and came back to bed.
This evening at dinner I broached the issue.
“As the Official Woman in this house, I feel strongly that it is YOUR gender-based obligation, as the Official Man, to deal with Controlling Vermin and Investigating Strange Nocturnal Sounds and Odors.” I said. “You failed in that duty last night. You had a poor attitude, and you did a minimally-acceptable job. You need to step up to the plate in future.”
Therein followed a conversation which one-quarter of the way through led me to assert that gender-based stereotypes or no, *I* would be assuming the obligation of Investigating Strange Nocturnal Sounds (leaving him with Odors and Vermin Control).
I opened by mentioning my commitment to acquire a baseball bat to keep by the bed, in the execution of my Nocturnal Noise Investigator.
Roy countered with an increasingly absurd list of alternative ideas for Things To Subdue And/Or Deter Nocturnal Invaders. I, myself, thought that the BEST option would be a shotgun, as I understand that the simple sound of a shotgun being cocked nearby can offer a powerful deterrent to the would-be thief. Roy refuses to have guns in the house, so the baseball bat it will be.
His ideas? He could sneak down and hit the intruder with a vase. I regret to say that he pronounced that “vahz”.
He felt (sincerely) that this would be a “less violent” solution than the bat.
“Why do we need <shudder> a ‘vahz’? I’ve got just the thing if you want to go that route – whacking huge jar candles from Yankee Candle. Remember when you came home unexpectedly at 4am after the World Series? I’ve already *done* this analysis.”
He felt that the ‘vahz’ would be “less violent” than the jar candle.
“I don ‘t understand what your problem is with violence,” I said. “We’re talking about how to deal with someone we catch committing a felony in our house in the middle of the night.”
I assured him that it would be quite difficult to cause life-threatening lacerations, or put some guy’s eye out, with a bat; whereas both of these could be easily done by breaking a big glass container over someone’s head.
Then he moved on to Genius Plan #2. I regret to say that he was Most Sincere in this whole discussion. Genius Plan #2 was to Cause Confusion by bombing the burglar with water balloons.
Maybe if they were filled with Drano, I said. He neither appreciated the pragmatic issues involved in keeping a sufficiently large stash of water balloons primed and at hand on the off-chance that someone should break into the house. Nor, I suppose it is almost needless to say, did he appreciate that bombing someone with water balloons is unlikely to have the effect of immobilizing the perp until the cops show up.
At this point, he diverted the discussion into Why It Is Wrong To Wallop Burglars. “Because they’re mentally ill or they might be poor” he said. Where does one even start with something like this?
“That’s exactly why I refuse to join the Democratic Party” I said. “Because it’s full of people who think it’s actually *reasonable* to spout that kind of arrant nonsense. For pete’s sake, stop making such a ridiculous spectacle out of yourself.”
Then he hit on the brilliant idea to stun the guy into submission by throwing eggs at them. “And then I’ll tackle him!” he said, proudly.
“You’ll have a hell of a time with that,” I said. “Since I’ll have rocketed downstairs with my bat to deal definitively with the situation, while you go find the eggs in the fridge, and then loft them at the writhing mass on the floor – hitting me too, I’m sure, for which I will NOT thank you – and then you, Princess, are going to try to take this guy down with a TACKLE? On a floor covered with broken eggs? Please. If we’re going to have this discussion, I need for you to at least Dabble a Toe in the Pond of Pragmatic Reality.”
He protested that he “was just trying to brainstorm non-violent solutions”.
“Only if you’re in the Yiddish Theater,” I said. “Who the devil do you think you are, Harpo Marx? Why not just oil the floors every night? Or keep a stack of cream pies next to the stairs, just in case? Or – no, I’ve got it – you could get a fake flower for the buttonhole on your pajamas, and confront the burglar with a lecture, and squeeze a bulb so that the flower squirts him in the eye!”
“You don’t need to make fun of me for being peaceful,” he said.
“I’m not laughing. I’m engaging in Derisive Mockery,” I said. “And it’s not because you’re ‘peaceful’, it’s because you’re being absurd.”
I think we settled on the solution that I will have a bat and go down to engage the intruder, while he calls the police.
In the meantime, he will still be in charge of investigating Strange Odors and Controlling Vermin (at least, the vermin that the cat doesn’t get to first.)