Sunday, January 24, 2010

THAT got my heartrate up

Thanks for the Post of the Week honor, Hilary!

In my eleven years of marriage, I have never heard my wife scream with such terror as she did last night.

Wait a minute.

Where to begin?

Rewind a bit.

My youngest son just turned six. Can you believe it?

Both of my boys are obsessed with animals and wish they could have pets. Unfortunately for them, my wife is allergic to everything with fur, so that leaves the boys with their stuffed animal dogs that you see them take everywhere. However (comma), on the occasion of my son's birthday this week, all he wanted for his birthday was a pet.

We settled on a fish.

My wonderful wife took the boys to the pet store and got said fish Thursday.

We'll skip over the story about the eldest and youngest child fighting over what to name the fish in spite of two frustrated parents explaining multiple times that it was the YOUNGEST child's birthday and it was HIS present and HE got to choose the name.

Said fish came in a nice plastic "bowl" if you can call it that. It's a little bigger than a gallon milk jug, cylindrical, and has this fancy screw-on top with a built-in light, a carrying handle, and a hole to put food in. The boys have been carrying the fish in his bowl up stairs with them at bedtime and back downstairs with them in the morning.

That brings us to last night (the 4th night said fish has been in our family).

It was time for bed. I went upstairs to put on my pajamas while my wife and boys were feeding the fish sitting on the coffee table in the family room.

There I was, standing with my pants half-off in the master bathroom in the back corner of the second floor of our house. All of a sudden, I heard the most blood-curdling scream from my wife, followed by a loud and rapid


As I yanked my pants back on, spun on my heels, and sprang forth out of the master bedroom with acceleration the likes of which Chuck Yeager never experienced, my mind imagined the worst. I fearfully expected to find the body of one of my family members in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs.

Out of the bedroom I dashed, across the hallway, down two steps, spun around to the left and came to a screeching halt at the top of the stairs to survey the carnage.

There was such a huge mess, I wasn't exactly sure what I was seeing and it took my brain a few moments to catalog and register the scene.

Okay, self, first thing's first. Is your family okay? Are there any human bodies with protruding broken bones? Is there any blood anywhere?

No, none that I could tell immediately.

Alright, initial check of family okay, what is the mess before you on the stairs?


Lots of orange.

Gobs of orange.

Orange everywhere.

This kind of orange...

Self, that looks like the orange sand-like stuff that was in the bottom of the fish bowl.

Self, there's the empty fish bowl at the bottom of the stairs...

Laying in a big puddle of water...

...and there's a fish on the floor.

As the fog of terror-induced adrenaline began to lift and my brain resumed processing the signals coming from my ear-drums, I heard my wife telling the boys to get a cup of water for the fish. YB showed up with the smallest cup he could find with about an ounce of water in the bottom. LW explained to him she needed a bigger cup and more water than that.

I went and quickly filled up a pitcher of water and brought it for the fish. The fish was alive and swimming around. Next we had to comfort the 8 year old hunkered and crying in the family room because he thought he killed the fish when he dropped the fish bowl down the stairs.

Now for the cleanup.

My wife told the boys to get towels from the linen closet. ES returned with a stack of every beach towel we own. Next my wife had them put the towels down on the stairs to start soaking up the water. At that moment in time, I didn't have the first clue what the best way was to attack this cleanup effort, so I didn't see any problem with what she told the boys to do. In hindsight though, I regretted the sequence of our efforts.

At first, I tried scooping up orange beads with my hands, but it was cumbersome at best. Plus, my wife said they were covered in fuzz from the carpet, so we probably couldn't reuse it with the fishbowl. Then the light went off over my head, and I said to myself, "Self, it's time for the shop-vac."

I brought the shop-vac in from the garage, and my very wise wife told me to take the filter out of the shop vac before vacuuming up water. Unfortunately, her dumb husband proceeded to open the shop vac right there in the foyer at the bottom of the stairs, thus adding saw dust from the past several weeks' worth of pinewood derby preparations to the water on the floor. Niiiiiice.

Even so, once I had the filter out, the shop-vac did a great job sucking up all the orange beads, water, and sawdust on the foyer floor with a very satisfying rattling noise as the beads battered the suction tube.

Then I went to attack the stairs. I lifted up the now-sopping-wet beach towel, and discovered half of the eleventy bajillion little orange beads were on the carpet, but the other half were stuck to the towel. The ones on the carpet were really easy to suck up with the vacuum. Each time I tried to vacuum some off the towel though, I heard this THUMP sound as the towel got sucked up to the vacuum. Along with that resultant THUMP noise, the towel flung orange beads across the foyer like a catapult.

As a result, my cleanup efforts sounded something like this:
Shhhhhhhhh (vacuum sucking noise)
Rattle Rattle Rattle (orange beads flying up the vacuum tube)
THUMP (vacuum catches towel)
Clatter-clatter-clatter (airborne orange beads bouncing on the hard wood floor in the foyer)
Rattle Rattle Rattle
Rattle Rattle Rattle
Rattle Rattle Rattle

That got on my nerves pretty quick, so I ended up picking up all the towels and taking them to the bottom of the stairs. I didn't want to just shake the towels outside and have little orange beads everywhere on my lawn or in the street. I also didn't want to just put the towels in the washer and have the little glass beads clog up my washer. So I shook them out right there in the foyer onto the wood floor and then vacuumed them all up without the THUMP and clatter noises.

At one point, I thought to myself, self, you really need a picture of those beads to be able to give people an idea of what a mess this was. I grabbed my camera, and while taking a picture of beads, I could detect a tone of annoyance in my wife's voice as she asked if I really needed to document this.

Uhhh... is this a trick question, Sweetie???

Even when I had most of the beads vacuumed up, every time I set my foot down, I found another one with my bare foot. I suppose I should have put some shoes on, but then again, while it was uncomfortable, the beads weren't puncturing or doing any real damage to my feet, and it was helping me find all the little buggers.

Through the course of the day today, I kept finding little orange beads on the floor, on my socks, in my shoes... I wonder if this will be like the grains of rice we continue to find in our suitcase thanks to my wife's aunt putting rice in our suitcase when we left on our honeymoon over a decade ago?

Anyway, the fish seems okay today. I think it's safe to say the boys will not be allowed to carry the fish bowl around anymore.

Sleep tight... whatever your name is.


Tabor said...

I was thinking goldfish. What you have here is one of those fighting fish. Make sure you do not put him with others. I'll bet it was hard to get everyone quiet and back to bed.

Tanya said...

PUHAHAHAHAHA. Oh my...what drama! Poor everyone for all that stress too. least by reading this post, everyone will have a good laugh at it later! Maybe the fish needs a good daredevil name after living through all this!

Hilary said...

I love it that my kids are grown. They hardly ever drop the cat down the stairs. ;)

Anonymous said...

This made me laugh... thank goodness the fish were OK... My dog is too big to drop, thank goodness...

Gaston Studio said...

This story got a big smile from me as I experienced something similar when my son was about 5. What a mess to clean up, huh? But at least the fish was okay.

Congrats on POTW mention from Hilary!

Land of shimp said...

Hello, hello. I'm here via Hilary's blog. What a fun blog post this was, and there was a decided feeling of empathy throughout.

I wanted to add something though, because I've been on the other side of that panicked sound. I've been the person making it. It's only happened once in the course of twelve years, but in our old house my husband's home office was in the basement. Something happened, and I called his name. I thought I had called it calmly but I guess I had not because he appeared beside me, wild-eyed, and so quickly it was as if he had teleported up through the floorboards.

"What is it??? Are you okay?" Evidently he had detected that panicked note in my voice, so whereas I thought I had rather calmly called out to him, he thought I was facing down an axe murderer.

Now, I do know that everything turned out to be okay, but here's the funny thing. To this day, I do not remember exactly what had frightened me so.

What I remember is that my husband appeared to break every known law of physics to get to my side, and that he nearly collapsed after I told him it was all right because the thought of me in danger had deeply terrified him.

Just saying, there's a lot of ways to look at a deep, deep fright like that. I do not remember what had caused that note of panic, but I do remember the feeling that came with knowing I was married to someone who'd throw himself directly onto danger to save me.

It didn't suck as far as feelings go :-)

Land of shimp said...

oh, and that's a Beta fish :-)

Daryl said...

Congrats on POTW mention from Hilary

TSannie said...

THAT was funny. Bet you never want to see an orange fish as long as you live!

So deserving of a POTW mention!

The Cowgirl said...

Seriously, have I ever told you how much fun it is to have you as a dear friend? Thanks for another laugh :)...and I side with your lovely wife about the camera documentation :)

Cedar said...

Pet up from there...and now you know you don't need a heart stress test...seems really good.

Anonymous said...

Great post on pets!

Families and pets go together. Families that don't have any always seemd a little lonely to me, like sonmething was missing. There was almost always a dog in the house when I was a kid.

Shortly after I married Mrs. Sonarman, we got a cat, which 3 years later became a second cat. I am not fond of cats, but we lived together in mutual tolerance. Mostly. You can only put tape on their feet so many times before they figure out the quickest way to get it off.

Then we found a turtle in our yard. The kids named it... Boney. Boney is a FL box turtle. We think, because we were living in GA at the time we found it. Boney turned out to be a girl. Who knew?

We came back up north to Good ol' Groton, with the two cats and a turtle. The two cats went on to the great litter box in the sky, and they were replaced.

There was talk of a dog. I didn't want one. My excuse was it was too much of a burden with our hectic lifestyle. My real reason... I would get too attached, and eventually, well, need I say more.

5 years ago, my very evil and mischievious aunt surprised me with a springer spaniel pup. On Christmas. It was black and white with freckles. She really knew how to get to me, because her dog (which was my best friend when I would visit) was a springer named Freckles. So guess what she called this puppy? You guessed it! I was mad as hell, but I was hooked. Now, I cannot imagine my life without this dog.

Anonymous said...

A wonderfully deserved POTW!