I have a knack for several awesome things. I make a tasty batch of homemade popcorn. I have written, critiqued, and edited many papers and articles to at least positive reviews. I also have a pretty keen sense of direction.
But for every special talent I have, there’s something awkward and embarrassing that balances it out. For every paper I edit with ease, I lose or forget something important — tickets to an upcoming concert, a receipt for something I need reimbursement — usually something that’s paper. For every yummy bowl of popcorn I prepare, I leave a stack of papers lying on the coffee table, or my bedroom nightstand or the kitchen counter under the phone. I could go on but I’d just be embarrassing myself… and my mother. And for every destination I navigate to without difficulty, I manage to destroy something in my house.
When I was a teenager, my mom worked until 6:00 in the evenings and usually had me start supper. One night we were having macaroni and cheese — the real kind, baked in the oven with lots of gooey cheese — and she had instructed me to start steeping the tea bags and put the dish of mac and cheese in the oven.
With the mac and cheese dish waiting on the front stove burner, I turned on a burner to boil the water and steep the tea in a pan on the back burner. You know where this is going, don’t you? You’re already reading with one eye closed, head turned halfway away. I know I’m doing that just typing and remember the scene. With the water presumably heating up, I trot off to the living room to read or do homework or something.
A few minutes later, a loud crash rang out from the kitchen followed by the tinkling sound of glass landing on the linoleum. At first, I hit the floor because I thought someone had shot a gun or threw a brick through the kitchen window. Then I heard a hissing and sizzling, so I walked into the kitchen to find the glass casserole dish shattered and macaroni noodles and cheese bubbling and sputtering on the stove top.
Of course, I turn into (to quote Anchorman) a glass case of emotion — blubbering on the phone to my mother at my mistake and realizing that the glass shards that landed on the floor were hot enough to scorch the linoleum. But in the end, she got a new kitchen floor to replace the 1970s harvest gold and chocolate brown linoleum.
The latest DIY destruction came on New Year’s Eve. I woke up around 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning having to go pee. Here’s where having to sit in order to go to the bathroom used to come in handy. As long as I had a sliver of light guiding me to the toilet, I could shuffle into the bathroom, drop trou, and park my butt on the seat without having to subject my eyes to the blinding glare of six over-the-mirror bulbs and then fumble my way back to bed in the dark and risk stepping on the 75-pound dog.
I never had a problem until that morning, when in a half-asleep stupor in the dark, I stood up from the toilet and began to teeter totter like some weeble wobble. When I realized that I was indeed going to fall down, I decided to reach for the windowsill to steady myself — except I misjudged that distance and fell against the toilet tank.
I’d just like to say how unpleasant it is to feel the gushing of cold toilet tank water against your bare feet and legs… in December… at dark-thirty in the morning. At that point I was wide awake and repeatedly shouting “Shit!” over and over because I could not get the cutoff valve under the toilet turned to an off position.
“Are you okay?” my husband asked from the bedroom.
“I broke the damn toilet!”
So he rushed in and managed to turn off the water. Upon inspecting the tank, we learned that just like my ankle in New Orleans, I really know how to f*ck something up good. The tank was split completely in two, but somehow, the bowl didn’t suffer a single crack. Also a plus was the fact that the tank and bowl were separate pieces, so we were able to buy a new generic tank that fit the bowl for less than $100 — including some different water-saving guts and new brushed chrome handle.
Seriously, it’s a shame Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was canceled, because they could have hired me for the demolition crew, and with enough time, I could have brought that home down all by myself.
I chalk it all up to those qualities we all have that keep our britches sufficiently loose when we feel tempted to believe we have gotten too big for them.
Although, I have a small confession: If I have to pee in the middle of the night, I still leave the bathroom light off.