Today it finally happened. The appliances conspired against me to all break down simultaneously.
I should have anticipated this, for we were given clues. First, the ancient computer was stricken with a rare case of Computzheimers last December, and after much denial (mine) and angst (The Husband’s), had to be replaced.
Next, the refrigerator starts grumbling to the stove (“Are you happy in this house? Or do you feel taken for granted?”), and before I even have a chance to start adding a few dimes to the savings account, the frig is leaking water (out of places that don’t normally even have water). The stove whispers conspiratorially to the frig (“I think MOV is planning a Disney vacation at the hotel-the-monorail-goes-through … this would be the perfect time to break because she’d have to throw a lot of money at your repairs or replacement, and then she’d realize in retrospect how valuable you truly are!”).
Yesterday the washing machine started to smell vaguely of ... gasoline? I am terrified to wash our clothes now, and we are going through the remaining clean ones at an alarming rate. I anticipate the kids will be wearing swim suits to school by the end of the week, and I will be forced (once again) to don an ill-fitting taffeta ball gown and tiara to go pick up the boys at the bus-stop.
This morning, The Husband routinely turns on the TV to check news and weather, and—voila!—no sound. He walks into the bedroom where I am pretending to sleep. “The TV has no sound?” he says, half question/ half statement. “Did you do something to it?”
“Uh,” I stammer, not really thrilled to be woken with this latest development in household anarchy, “I didn’t do anything to it. Maybe it’s on mute? Did you try to press the mute button to, uh, un-mute it?”
“Press the mute button? Wow, I never thought of that!” says The Husband sarcastically. “Of course I pressed the mute button.” Now he’s mad. They probably showed footage of tornadoes and hurricanes and floods and heavy traffic and multiple accidents on the news, but he has no idea which particular freeways he needs to avoid on his way to work (possibly freeways in Greenland or Australia) because he couldn't hear what the reporters were saying.
“Well, it worked fine last night when I was watching part one of the Top Chef finale,” I offer. Even as the words are cascading out of my mouth, I am saying a prayer of thanks to the Television Gods for courteously waiting until I got to watch my show before deciding to cease working properly for other members of my family.
The Husband departs for work (probably leaving his raincoat and umbrella at home, and driving on the accident-filled “bad” freeways), and I promptly forget what he has told me about the TV. “Hey, Short,” I chirp merrily, “wanna watch Penguins of Madagascar while I get your cereal?”
He answers affirmatively and I turn on the television. There are penguins jumping around, fighting crime or whatever cartoon TV penguins do, and … silence. Oh, yeah, I think to myself, this is what The Husband was just telling me about 10 minutes ago.
Luckily for Short, this is an episode he’s seen before (let’s be honest: seen 1297 times to be exact) so he doesn’t even really need the sound. “Maybe we should unplug it and plug it back in again?” Short suggests helpfully. We give it a try, but it still doesn’t work. The animated penguins continue to move their mouths but no words come out.
I am mentally calculating the precise age of our (dying) TV. Let’s see, we had it before Tall was born, uh, wait—it’s all coming back to me now! We happened to buy it right before 9-11 because I clearly remember watching the horrors of that day unfold and wishing that I could bury my head in the sand like an ostrich and not have to witness any of it, but instead we had really really good picture quality and could see everything happen as it occurred and then be replayed by all the channels in a never-ending loop for the next several weeks. I could see the exact pattern of Tom Brokaw’s tie (orange, with tiny green paisley swirls) and the precise shade of Katie Couric’s lipstick (garnet shimmer) as they informed the world of the devastation in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania.
Let’s see, 9-11 happened in 2001, so that means my TV is two years old, oops—10 years old! Yikes, how did that happen? How did a decade slip by from when we bought a new TV and the twin towers fell? A decade?
We do not have money for frivolous expenses like a refrigerator, or a washing machine, or a computer, or a television. We have spent all our money on crucial necessities such as Italian espresso machines and embroidered linen tablecloths and crystal candle holders and French porcelain serving platters from the high-end kitchen store. (When I started working there almost four years ago, I was convinced that I would save all my earnings. Ha. The temptation of being surrounded every shift by beautiful things coupled with a deep employee discount proves too great for my non-existent willpower.)
I call The Boss to figure out a way to get more money from my job. “Uh, Boss?” I say sweetly to her answering machine, “We had a few unexpected expenses this month, so I need you to cut my hours.”