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From the Corner of My Couch – Issue 7

This is actually a slightly edited reprint from a blog entry I wrote back in February 2007. It was more than a stretch to come up with something fresh and creative and entertaining last week while recovering from my surgery – so I dove into the archives. Good Reason #37 for keeping a blog!

Smoke Detectors and Stinky Diapers

Why is it that life happens at the most inconvenient times? Last night, we were awakened by a patient, persistent beep coming from the smoke detector in our room, indicating to us that the battery is low and needs to be changed. And I swear to you, every time we have had to change a battery in a smoke detector, it has happened in the middle of the night.

The ceiling in our bedroom is tall. Like, I don’t know, twelve feet? Because we only have a six foot ladder, Michael is 5’11, and he was standing on the top step and couldn’t reach it. I’m trying not to think about the fact that he ran 13 miles in the half-marathon yesterday and his leg muscles are very, very tired. He ended up getting (are you ready for this?) the kitchen broom with the rubber handle to hold against the ceiling to help him balance as he is precariously perched on the top step of the ladder (next to the sticker that reads, “Do not step here or you will risk falling or death.”), reaching up to try to get the cover off the smoke detector. Did I mention it was 5:00 a.m.? I’m at the bottom holding the ladder and his calf. Why am I holding his calf? He finally gets the cover off and then realizes he doesn’t have the battery. I try to hand him the battery, but I am not nine feet tall, so he can’t reach it. I attempt to climb up the ladder to hand it to him, but he quickly warns me that this would be a very bad decision. He hands me the broom, very cautiously climbs down the ladder, gets the battery, climbs back up, gets the broom back on the ceiling, and proceeds to change the battery. My palms, still holding his calf, are getting very sweaty, and his legs are shaking. Now the cover won’t go back on, the smoke detector is still beeping, so he switches the battery around, finally gets the cover back on, and climbs down. We go back to bed.

I think we need a taller ladder. And more 9 volt batteries.

I couldn’t help remember a similar incident about 15 years ago. Michael and I had been dating for a few months, we were on summer break from college, and he was coming to stay at my house for the first time. My mother, ever the quintessential Southern hostess, wanted everything to be perfect. She already knew that we were pretty serious, even if we didn’t. So in the middle of the night, what happens? The smoke detector goes off! And this one wasn’t just an annoying little beep, it was the full-blown call-911-get-out-of-the-house blaring. The smoke detector just needed a new battery. We’re all out in the hall in the middle of the night, my mother is beating the smoke detector with her house shoe yelling, “It’s not a fire! It’s not a fire!” Oh, and this was the night following the dinner where she had set the perfect table in the dining room and prepared a delicious gourmet meal to impress this young suitor, and as we were sitting down to eat, a giant flying Texas cockroach appeared out of no where and fell in the middle of the table. Mom screamed and brushed it off the table, the dog started chasing the roach around the room, and we’re all doubled over in laughter.

So with that, and the subsequent smoke detector incident, my mom thought none of us would ever see Michael again. Obviously we did, which is one of the many reasons she loves him more than me.

Here’s my point – why do these things happen? Why can’t our smoke detectors go off at, say, 6:30 p.m. after dinner but before bedtime? Why does my two year old wait until we are running (late) out the door to announce, “I’m stinky”? How can my kids play for hours on end without looking sideways at me, but the very second I close the door to go to the bathroom or answer the phone, they need me right now? Do you ever feel like God is just chuckling at you, saying “watch this! heh-heh-heh!”

Life is just funny sometimes.


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