It's not about the house.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Signifying Nothing

This first part is not my fault:

Remember my knife? And how I said the other day that it was broken and I found it in my drawer? Well I fixed it. But it broke again. And the pieces of it were in my bag when I cleaned it out yesterday.

When I was going to bed last night – when the game was tied at 24 and I was bored and frustrated – I walked past the knife parts on the kitchen counter and thought “I better put those back in the bedside table drawer for safekeeping.”

Except, when I was walking through the bedroom door, I dropped the knife.

And the knife, thinking it would have a bit of fun, slid four feet across the knotty pine and – sft – down into the little hole where the radiator pipe comes through the floor.

I tried to get it out, but I could only get my four fingers through the hole – old Thumby had to stay outside, preventing Fingers from getting far enough to do anything but push Knife off the shelf of insulation it was resting on and down permanently out of Fingers' reach.

It could have been worse. This could have been a real house, with real floors, where there’s wood and stuff on both sides of the insulation. But we, the AssVac, Big Old Bertha? We have a crawl space. Not under the whole house, but under the addition that is the master bedroom. You go down cellar and walk up into the crawl space through the stairs that used to be the bulkhead before they built the bedroom over the only outside access to the basement.

Well, at that point last night I gave up and went to bed, and this morning I’d forgotten all about it. Until, as I was typing, I looked at the back of my hand and thought “How the hell did I get all those scratche— oh.”

So just now in my pyjamas I went down there. Johnny told me I'd have to cut through the insulation to get at it, and that would fuck everything up. He said that maybe it was a sign: the knife broke last week and had now taken its ownself down through the rabbit hole. Maybe it was just time for me to not have it anymore. My knife had found me on its own, maybe now it was doing its damndest to try and lose me.

Yeah, yeah. Do you think I could just put my hand up under the insulation from the edge?

Because, see, I might have made it sound a little simpler to get into the crawlspace than it really is. Those bulkhead stairs aren’t exactly accessible themselves, because whoever built the bedroom over them also decided there was no reason to properly dispose of an old oil tank when there was a perfectly good but useless bulkhead staircase waiting to be filled. So to get into the crawlspace you have to lean a ladder up against the rusty old oil tank and clamber over. And I really didn’t want to.

But I knew that if I didn’t do it now I would, over time, decide I really didn’t need the knife that badly. And I really did.

(I know that Johnny would have gone in for me, but by this time he’d gone fishing. And I don't mean that metaphorically. And I’m pretty sure he won't be home till ten o’clock tonight.)

There is one other option, though, which is actually how Johnny usually does it – or, I should say, used to do it, when we were still putting in the laundry room and stuff back there. It’s not like he sometimes likes to go into the filthy crawlspace and roll around there just for fun.

The cinder block wall has a hole in it that the other plumbers jackhammered out when they were running the pipes to the laundry room and stuff. It’s about four blocks wide (cinder blocks, not city blocks) with a big old PVC pipe running through it, but you can squish around the pipe and work your body through. Or Johnny can, at least. I’ve never tried.

But it just so happens that this plumber – the Kid – when he was taking down the old pipe yesterday, chose this particular cranny, out of the whole entire cellar, to store the bits and pieces in. Big bits, giant pieces, and this shit ain't PVC. It's too heavy for me to lift. Well, too heavy for me to lift from just the six-inch end that was protruding, when I was in my PJs and before I had my coffee, anyway.

But it was while I was on the ladder with my head in that hole, flicking the flashlight around and pretending to be deciding what to do, that I saw it. My knife! Lying in the dust right by the wall! I didn’t have to cut through insulation, or guess where it might be, or make any stinking decisions whatsoever! It was lying right there waiting for me, and it looked so sad to have been left there overnight…

Because I couldn’t lean the ladder up against the working pipe, or against the protruding pieces of superseded pipe, I had to put the ladder against the wall and reach my arm around behind. Which meant I had to grope blindly through cobwebs and black widow poo, and scrabble around in the dust and the grime on the bottom of the infernal crawlspace.

My arm wasn't long enough. I couldn’t reach the knife. And now I have cinder scratches on my armpit to match the knot-pine scratches on my hand.

I had to shift some stuff out of the way in order to move the ladder so I could try reaching from another angle, and as I grabbed hold of a broom I thought “Hey, I wonder if I could reach the knife with something other than my arm?!”


So I pulled it with the broom, and along with it a big pile of dirt and dust and spider poo which I had to scrabble my fingers through to fish it out. But I did get it. My knife. Phew. It’s still broken, but it’s back. Even if it doesn't want me anymore. I'll kill it before I'll let it leave me for someone else.

Now, I still say I can’t be blamed for any of the above. I accidentally dropped the knife, it made its own pathetic dash for freedom, and I’m pretty proud of myself that I managed to get it back. But here’s the fucking retard part:

I took all sorts of pictures to illustrate this story. The doorway where I dropped it. The expanse of floor it shot across. The hole that it went down. I even brought the camera to the basement and took a picture of my knife in the dust, illuminated by the beam of my Black & Decker flashlight. But, after I took that last picture, I put the camera down on the cement shelf created by that hole the pipe goes through…

And dropped it through the cinder-blocky hole.

I tried to reach it. I put my arm down through at least two and maybe three cinder blocks worth of dank, dark hole, but then I got a little skittish. I’ll try later, when I’m dressed, with a long stick and maybe a really, really giant wad of gum.

But for now, just now – just now – I’m having coffee.

It kind of tastes a bit like spider poo.

Let's have an "Explain the Title CONTEST," shall we? I'll write a sonnet for whoever gets it first...


Courtney said...

Am I contest-eligible? Do I get in trouble for pointing out that this is a tale told by an idiot?

Poppo said...

Or is it still in the washing machine, (hope not).