I couldn’t figure out how to operate the high tech washing machine among the plethora of intimidating high tech gadgetry in my new push-button apartment.
After years of low-tech Laundromats this gleaming Whirlpool was almost beatific. Looks like something you wear in outer space. Has a bubbled glass space helmet for a front door. The pulsating setting-lights whisper to you sweetly, patiently, seductively. Like Donna Summers on disco. Sounds like one of those telephone services where lonely hearts pay by the minute. Makes you feel like she’s a sure thing; like she’d fold easier than hot laundry.
But now I was feeling more like the first time I had sex. (I remember. I still have the receipt.) I mean I didn’t know where to plunk the High Energy detergent. And mostly I couldn’t find the slot to stick in… the damn quarters!
At that moment, in front of my friend’s Jamaican mother, who came over to help me tidy up, I was more ashamed that I couldn’t work the washing machine than the lubricious thoughts I had about having her — my friend’s mother! — help me break in my new bed.
Am I being reborn… or have I overdosed on Cialis?
Life is good again!
But of course!
There’s no place like a new home – away from all my yesterdays.
Especially since this is the first home I have had since my ex-wife tried to poison my demise. And now after a seven-year itch of recuperating, rehabilitating and reformulating I have found shelter from the screaming tempest.
As I may have mentioned (But, of course!) my ex, Miss Stephanie Blatt (now MacDonald in her latest of future exes), may have failed by mere seconds in trying to steal my future. But she did succeed in robbing and pillaging my entire past.
Worst than a conflagration… an Apocalypse…Armageddon.
Now any evidence of my history, from snapshots to chiseled trophies from the fields of glory, is litter to the winds – even my screams and dreams have been swept away.
Indeed marriage is like life – it is a field of battle, not a bed of roses. And our legal system should be charged with manslaughter. It came galloping to Miss Stephanie’s devious clarion, aiding and abetting, until every one eventually discovered what I had long suffered — that most everything Stephanie honked was mendacious and perfidious. Yet the officers of the court sow the whirlwind.
Unbelievably, after the legal-beagles dropped, punted and withdrew all her specious charges, they offered me no assistance. They completely recused themselves from providing even a smidgeon of the aid they had eagerly poured on the sinister Miss Stephanie. They merely told me to get a lawyer to seek retribution. That I’d even have to get a lawyer to expunge their bogus charges from my record.
All things truly wicked start from innocence.
But, life is short. And one must learn to reap the wild winds screamin’ o’er your mistakes – or, in this case, the Schadenfreude. What the hell, what the heck…all men make blunders. It’s just that married men find out about them sooner.
Needless to say, missteps are part of the dues one pays for a full life. And, as long as the world is spinning, we’re gonna be dizzy, and we’re gonna make ’em over and over.
Anyway, duh best part is now I get to reinvent myself, to restart all over… And do it myself. After all, isn’t life a do-it-yourself project?
So I started this long journey with a first step. And from some intoxicated thinking I decided to build a new headboard for my new queen-size cradle. I mean, you have to do something when you’re enjoying the reacquainted luxury of laying about in your own bed.
So I play with my mind.
Hmm… And dats a whole lot of fooling around…
Now, remember G-d isn’t telling me to build a headboard like Noah’s Ark. Especially moi. I don’t know what the heck a ‘cubit’ is. Hell, obviously I couldn’t even figure out how to operate my washing machine.
But that’s what I wanted. To lay and read in a bed of my own making. One with a headboard about four feet high – about two feet higher than the bed. With a foot-deep, flat-top shelf, to hold stuff. You know, like a radio, phone, lamp and an elephant gun in case any exes show up in my pajamas with the rosy fingers of dawn.
In fact, I plan to paint it rosy red.
No stores had what I sought. Like the king-size one that has long since been vanquished. And so I figured I can do it myself – bigger, better and cheaper!
Then I enlisted the aid of my cousin, Mikey.
Let me just say that I love family – even Mikey. Even though he was one of those blow-dry, toothy-bright teleprompter readers on local Philadelphia TV news for 42 years. I have often reminded him that if it wasn’t for that natural timbre in his voice, he probably would have ended up shoveling the police horse stables.
And Mikey thinks that because TV pays better than real journalism (a-hem…like I did) that he knows stuff that doesn’t appear properly edited on his teleprompter.
Like before he was finally convinced that pretty Miss Stephanie may provide good theater, but underneath that teary emoting she is a primitive, sociopathic prevaricator. She can be downright ugly.
Anyhow, I sent him over to my old apartment to retrieve a manuscript I had buried in a tattered knapsack. I described the bag and its precise location. And I admonished him many times not to mention the book script to Miss Stephanie. Otherwise she would deny its whereabouts before destroying it with her green-eye lasers. Like with my utter stuff.
Alas. Alack… Mikey, more accustomed to holding onto a microphone instead of his common sense, reported back that : “Stephanie didn’t know where the manuscript was.”
Hmm… I told him to pay better attention to your enemies. For they are the first to discover your mistakes. Making errors is not always the result of ineptitude. It was undoubtedly partly his parents fault for not eating their young.
So when Mikey and I strolled into the Home Depot hardware section, the lumber guy started fawning over recognizing my retired TV cousin who happily brought him car crashes and house fires. And the two of them started working me over that my plans for the bed were all wrong. And that I didn’t know what I was doing.
But, of course! However, that is beside the point. I mean didn’t they nail the last Jewish carpenter to a cross.
But I did draw up plans. And knew my intentions were sound. Yet undoubtedly — like my favorite childhood book: No one listens to Andrew — this is why I became a writer.
Then Mikey got all hissy about this taking too much of his retired time. And that I should have planned better, even though I explained this was my better plan. That I was here to discuss matters with these do-it-yourself experts. And learn how to build a better mousetrap. Just like I did years back when I built a magnificent workbench for another ex’s stained-glass window projects.
So I simply said sagely to Mikey: Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young. Stop. Look. Listen. And pretend you used to be a journalist.
I think his mental paint is still wet on that metaphysical thought. It’s one of those too-deep-to-handle breakfast cereals that come without a toy in the box.
Anyway, I started compromising. And bought too much. And paid twice what I was expecting – even though I was convinced, financially, to buy a big sheet of plywood instead of more expensive 1×6 inch strips of fancier stuff. I also bought bunches of brass screws and elbow joints and long 2×4’s.
And the coup de gras was that now the oversized components wouldn’t fit into Mikey’s expensive Audi — the transportation for which I invited his company in the first place. So I had to rent one of their trucks for an hour – for another $20.
Afterwards, an annoyed Mike, finally fled. Like most senior citizens he was fretting about being late for his next savory meal.
Hmm… Believe it or not, I do love him for putting up with me.
At that I trekked to the paint store, and even with a discount, spent more than I can count without a calculator. This was still going to be bigger and better, but never as cheaper as first estimated. The way money was going I should have painted racing stripes on it.
Finally I spent all night drilling, measuring and piecing the puzzle together. My fingers were bruised. And my back sore.
Yet in the dawn’s early light I still wasn’t satisfied. So I returned to Home Depot and bought about $30 more wood and elbow joints and screws to maintain more of my original scheme. And this time the same sales clerk not only appreciated my designs, but was duly helpful. However he still gushed too much about my cuz who really was Mister Local TV.
The outcome is that the creation is, indeed, a masterpiece — if I don’t brag so, myself.
But why not?
It is the best little 4x5x1 foot custom carpentry this side of Noah’s Ark, Ikea and any other emporium of furniture fashion. I may not understand my high tech washing machine, but as a journalist I know how to break down walls and put stories together. And so it is with hammer, nails and many cussing wails.
Certainly, folks could fault my work. But making errors is a lot better than not doing anything. If you are not exasperated from time to time, then you are not trying. And I’ve truly learned there are no mistakes or failures… only lessons. But of course some of them can be very precious.
This time, however, I didn’t paint myself into a corner. I took advice and made things better. I firmly subscribe that you live and learn, and if you don’t learn from your past stupidities, then you need to be drug out and shot.
And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony….