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WARNINGS

JUST A WARNING!

My husband Bruce’s phobia with tools started when we were newlyweds and we made our first trip to that scary giant home depot box store. Walking down the aisles is as intimidating as walking through the jungles of the Amazon.

We were as enthusiastic with our purchase, as any other married couple on Long Island would be. “How fun,” I exclaimed, as we loaded the station wagon with cardboard boxes containing our first project. “We’re going to make this with our own hands.”

Once we got home, we searched through the boxes for the missing instructions. That should have been our first warning sign. “Don’t worry,” I remember saying. “Even a monkey could do it. (Well, two monkeys, as one monkey needs to stand back to assess the job. In our case, we needed a tribe).  

We were putting up flat slabs of brick, like a façade wall, behind our kitchen counter, while singing Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. “I can’t believe we’re almost done,” I announced to Bruce, a couple of hours later. Then our neighbor walked in, unexpectedly (another reason to always keep your doors Locked!) and hesitantly said, “Um, I don’t know if I should tell you this, but you didn’t…um, stagger the bricks.”

By all rights, the wall should have come tumbling down on the spot and killed us. Instead, we had to stare at The Wall of Shame for the next 12 years, until we moved to another house.

Now, we live in Charleston, Mount Perfect, mind you, but still, not everything can be perfect all the time. Not if you’re Bumbling Bruce and Calamity Janet.

The other day, I forgot that I left the sink water on, full force, in the upstairs guest room, until I went downstairs and saw Niagra coming out of my high hat. My eyes popped out of my head (well, they didn’t actually POP out of my head, only felt that way when I silently screamed, to hide the horror from Bruce, like Lucy from Ricky).

I asked my daughter to stall Bruce from coming downstairs, while I grabbed a bucket and towels, before his eyes really did POP out of his head! I counted down to the last slow motion drip – water torture for me.

That night in bed, still traumatized by the day, I dozed off earlier than usual, but woke up at 2 a.m., dreaming I was submerged underwater. I went downstairs to the kitchen to get a 2 a.m. snack and flicked on the light switch. There it was – a flying mouse (that’s what I call Palmetto bugs), the size of Japan (I’m allowed to exaggerate, I’m a writer.) This time, my scream reverberated throughout the house. Joey, our puppy, came downstairs to see if I was okay. Not Bruce. I have no idea how he slept through the racket I was making below with pots and pans, banging away at the creature from the black lagoon. I sprayed the bug with Lysol, but without WARNING, it went down a floor vent. I tried looking in the vent to see him, and he bounced out like a rubber ball at me. I finally clobbered him with a broom, ‘til he was squished dead. Then I remembered that if you squash them, hundreds of their eggs can be disbursed. Really?

When I went upstairs I knew I’d never fall asleep. I listened to my husband’s breathing in the dark, wondering if he was sleeping with his mouth open. Uh-oh. Do I sleep with my mouth open, too? I hear those bugs like warm dark places. So, I considered getting masking tape, but that would be crazy. Actually, not that crazy, since our primary care doctor at MUSC told us he digs those creatures out of people’s ears all the time. Really?

The next morning, relieved the night before was over, I took my seven-month-old puppy in the car for a long ride on the highway, and without warning, I heard some unpleasant regurgitation sounds, and sure enough, I see Joey had thrown up all his breakfast on the back seat. I kept my left hand on the steering wheel and the other behind me, preventing him from lying in it. I may have swerved a bit over the white lines. I then notice in my rear view mirror that a white car was following me for quite some time. Suddenly, I hear the dreaded sirens and see the blue flashing lights.

I nervously giggled like a schoolgirl when the 12-year-old officer approached my passenger window, asking for my papers. While fumbling through my messy glove compartment, I told him, “Well, officer, I usually am a very cautious driver, but look, THAT happened!”  His eyes did a subtle pop at the size of the mound on the leather seat, and said he would be right back. He sat in his police car forever, checking me out, I suppose, and writing my citation. And I had to wonder if dog vomit would now be on my record. Finally, I hear his car door slam shut. He returned, still not looking amused, and handed me a paper. Phew! Just a Warning! That was encouraging! I Wish I could get a WARNING every time something was about to go awry. Then I could  hide in the closet ‘til it is safe to come out again.

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Published by Janet Berg

Janet Lee Berg is a novelist and a blogger, who is known for her freelance writing on the east end of Long Island, NY, including Dan’s Papers. Keep an eye out for the release of her upcoming novel Rembrandt's Shadow, a Holocaust-related story about Sylvie Rosenberg, the privileged daughter of a prominent Dutch art dealer, who never knows her father's love until the day he trades his beloved Rembrandt to the Nazis in exchange for her life.

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