i have neglected my audience. worse, i don't have a good excuse. taken individually, none of these things adequately explains a two-week silence, but altogether? maybe you can find it in your heart to forgive me.
first, there was ron the roofer. he was here every day, except when he didn't show up. he would typically say, "see you at 8 in the morning." at 9:15 he'd call to let me know he was running late "but i'll be there by 9." most people would wonder at that, but not me. we signed a contract for this job in april of 2007; by late june 2008 i was convinced ron worked so slowly that he actually could move back in time. it was like a bad marriage, me and ron. i nagged and he acted sheepish. he'd want to explain himself ("you wouldn't believe the mess i had to deal with yesterday") and i wouldn't listen. as with so many bad relationships, ours ended with a stupid fight, this one about who put the good sheet over the printer. i yelled and slammed the door, he stopped speaking to me, and although he still has a housekey, i'm not keen to call to get it back.
then there was the bomb incident. about 1:30 AM we heard a loud bang. the next morning, we discovered a melted bottle on our front lawn. things with ron had not deteriorated to the point where i suspected him, and what with the egging and the graffiti earlier this year, we figured we should call the cops about this one (and by "we," mo meant me).
"yeah, uh hi. i'm calling to report that someone set off a bomb at our house last night? well, maybe not a bomb -- bomb is a big word, i'm sure this was nothing -- but then again there've been a couple other worrying incidents lately, and sometimes i take pictures of the drug dealers on the corner, though mostly it's a pretty good neighbourhood, but there was just --"
"ma'am, what is the nature of your complaint?"
"i'm calling to report a homemade explosive," i said, decisively.
"what makes you believe there was an explosive device, ma'am?"
"what makes me believe this? well, last night we heard an explosion and this morning we found the remains of a plastic bottle on the front lawn."
"did you retrieve the device, ma'am?"
"yes, i did. i'm sorry, should i have left it there?" i'm suddenly flustered: i've seen CSI, i know you're not supposed to disturb the crime scene. but they weren't really going to send out a team to investigate. were they? "i guess i should have left it there."
"ma'am, are there any burn marks on the bottle?"
i peer more closely. "no, actually, there aren't. now that you mention it." i'm starting to feel a little silly about the whole thing.
"what makes you believe the bottle was exploded, ma'am?"
"well, the side of it is totally melted. there's a milky white residue around the edges, though i guess that could be just be where the plastic itself melted... oh, and," i add triumphantly, "the lid's still on!"
"is there any sort of a label on the bottle, ma'am?"
"a label? uh, yeah. it's dasani water. lemon flavored. is that what you mean?"
"it's a lemon-flavor dasani water bottle with no discernible burn marks on it. is that correct?"
"ma'am, it sounds to me like what we have here is a prank. what youths sometimes do is take mentos -- that's a type of candy -- and insert them into a bottle of flavored water or soda. when they shake the bottle, the combination of ingredients initiates a chemical reaction that can cause the bottle to burst. there are videos of this phenomenon on youtube, ma'am, if you're familiar with that site."
"yes, i'm familiar with youtube. and i know what mentos are!"
"does this sound like a possible scenario, ma'am? are there young people living in your neighbourhood?"
so it all fizzled out, so to speak. but as you can imagine, i needed a couple days to recover -- and to catch up on my david letterman stunts, since apparently even david letterman has done the diet-coke-and-mentos trick.
then there were four days in the mountains -- glorious! -- where i had a run-in with another caustic combination: spray-on sunblock and red flipflops. basically, the banana boat sunscreen peeled the red color off my flip-flops and deposited it onto my feet, turning them the color of sweet and sour chicken balls. when i came home that afternoon, i tracked pink plastic all over the hardwood. nothing seemed to lift the color off -- until i had the bright idea to spray the sunscreen directly on the floors: bingo. came right up, and left a nice polish behind. that's also how i cleaned the tub.
when we came home from the mountains on canada day, we discovered that ron had moved out while we were gone, leaving a certain amount of dust behind him. not one to dwell on bygones, i suggested that we tackle the upstairs bathroom, which we immediately set out to do. "pimping," i think kids today call it (or did, twenty minutes ago).
isn't it amazing what you can do in two days with a couple hundred bucks and a bottle of spray paint?