Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Houston, We Have a Piece of Candy

Candy! Glorious, magnificent Halloween candy!

My 11-year-old son and I were polishing off the last of Halloween’s rewards in the kitchen when a small Sweet Tart dropped out of my hand, bounced off the counter, hit the floor, spun in a few circles and then rolled under the dishwasher.

Stupid, ridiculous candy!

“Dad, you’re not gonna go all crazy, are you?” my son asked. “It’s only a tiny piece of candy.”

I didn’t want him to think his dad was crazy. I was willing to leave it alone.

“That’s nothing,” my wife said. “You know how many things I’ve dropped under there?”

“Houston,” I said, “we have a piece of candy and other stuff under the dishwasher.”

I was on the kitchen floor with a metal coat hanger, trying to hook the Sweet Tart and anything else under there. The dishwasher, unlike the stove, has very little room to maneuver underneath. And while the refrigerator can be moved easily, the dishwasher is securely mounted with lots of hardware.

My wife couldn’t bear to take on my stress. She was already worried about whether or not she’d receive her National Board Certification, which is an advanced teaching credential that involved quite a lengthy process to complete. She was to learn about her fate in that matter the following morning.

“Well? Can you feel anything under there?” she asked.

My wife is quite talented and was about to take on my anxieties as well as her own. I couldn’t allow it. I pretended to find a few things underneath and we all went to sleep.

“You’re kidding me,” my wife heard me say in the middle of the night. But I wasn’t talking in my sleep. I was in the kitchen, under the dishwasher, talking to the machinery. I had to get that Sweet Tart.

“Take a break,” my wife yelled from our bedroom.

“If that piece of candy under there doesn’t get a break,” I hollered back. “I don’t get a break.”

My wife was up and so stressed she was actually pacing. Even our son, who could sleep through a series of mortar blasts in his bedroom, was awake and making a fuss about the noise.

How could I be so insensitive? I mean, my wife had no control of her dilemma -- her work for that certification had long been turned in, so there was nothing she could do. But my dilemma was so petty.

“OK, quiet down, let’s stay cool, people,” I told my family with my coat hanger still protruding from under the dishwasher. “Let’s work the problem. Let’s not make things worse by guessing.”

“You’re serious?” my wife said, annoyed. “You’re gonna quote ‘Apollo 13’ here?”

She stormed off.

“Dad, Mom is worried about her National Boards,” my son told me. Then he stormed off after her.

“We just lost the moon,” I said to my coat hanger.

I went for my wife. I comforted her, told her she'd pass her certification -- I wove a tapestry of proofs so believable and so beautiful that she forgot about my obsession with the candy. What I think really did trick was her going online to see if her National Boards scores were posted early. They were. She passed!

We all celebrated late into the late, late night. When everyone was back, snug in their beds, with visions of sugar-plums and National Board Certifications dancing in their heads, I sprang from my bed and out to the garage for my tools.

My tools! My top quality, major brand tools! I’d long wanted to repair something -- anything -- with those tools. Now I was going to use those babies to remove my dishwasher and retrieve that candy.

Where's all that water coming from? I wondered as I worked.

I was headed toward the worst home improvement disaster of my career as homeowner. Then I repeated aloud a line Ed Harris’ character spoke in “Apollo 13.”

“With all due respect, I believe this is going to be our finest hour.”

My tools -- my glorious, magnificent tools -- came through. I pulled the dishwasher, fixed the water hose I’d knocked loose, rescued the candy and other assorted items that had rolled under, and had everything back in order by daylight. My wife and I both had successes that night.

As I was grabbing the last screw for the reinstallation, it dropped out of my hand, bounced off the counter, hit the floor, spun in a few circles and then rolled under the dishwasher. Then it rolled back out. Whew!

I went for the screw but bumped it deep under the appliance where it remained.

Once again, I called Mission Control aloud: Houston, I dont care anymore. And I went to bed.

-November 2014

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