Gremlin Attack! (Or ‘How Gizmo made me his bitch.’)

Autumn in Texas is a unique experience that is completely unappreciated by those from everywhere else in North America. Leaves stay green and cling to the trees while the temperature drops from one hundred plus (Fahrenheit) to a more livable ninety or less; lawns are no longer burnt brown but become a rich, healthy green, the sky, usually a near bright white in summer, becomes deep blue, and the wind no longer feels like a hair dryer blowing in your face. Fire ants and spiders begin to vacate people’s homes for the now temperate outdoors and children can finally play outside without fear of heat stroke or spontaneous combustion.

It is against this annual respite from the Hades-like weather that I set my tale of woe.

October began, innocently enough, with thoughts of upcoming holidays, birthdays, and family visits. To aide me in my planning of these events I turned to my life long muse who has never failed to help me concentrate and plan: Microwave popcorn. After placing my muse, this week in the guise of a kindly grandfather with a red bow tie, into the microwave and pressing the start button the attack on my home began. Almost immediately an angry buzzing began emanating from my favorite appliance, as if every bee in the hundred acre wood had finally cornered that honey stealing, son of a bitch Winnie the Pooh, and with a pop my microwave died an inauspicious death.

Not yet realizing that gremlins were to blame I decided it was time to loudly voice my negative opinions about the universe in general (read: yelling swear words) over the unpopped corpse of my muse. Several phone calls later I was able secure the promise of a repairman to come and try to resuscitate my beloved appliance in two days. Two days. How can I survive two days without my microwave? Will I eat? Should I make my peace with the stove? Can you still purchase Jiffy Pop? Do I have the ability to make fire? Are assless chaps appropriate dinner wear? Will I be slapped by members of my family for asking stupid questions?

Time never files when you’re waiting for something. So, to make the time pass, I decided that I should no longer ignore the biohazard warnings that had been placed around the cat boxes and clean them before the cloud of flies around the garage began to attract police attention. All seemed to be going well until I tried to close the garage door. A metal on metal grind pierced the air and what was once a working garage door became a solid piece of metal that resembled a modern art sculpture. Again I was compelled to loudly express my displeasure, punctuating it with a physical manifestation of my feelings (read: yelling swear words while giving the finger) all while the neighbors attempt to shield their children’s ears. Unable to withstand the accusing stares of scandalized neighbors I retreat indoors.

The old saying that religion was the opiate of the masses applies today to television. So, in dire need of opiates, I repaired to my quite room and turned on the television. A Star Trek marathon was on and I knew that nothing can be quite as calming as the gestalt of Star Trek. I sat, took a deep breath, and turned on the TV only to find a bright red blur where the picture should be. Now, after a small discussion with the television and furniture (read: yelling swear words while kicking my chair) I finally realized that evil forces were at work.

Finally, it was time for the repairman to come and fix my microwave. He was efficient, friendly, and quick while he dissembled, replaced parts, reassembled, and tested (with a cup of water) my newly resurrected appliance. After payment and a hardy handshake my savior left and I was in dire need of communing with my muse. I again placed a bag of popcorn on the rotating alter of the radiation gods, punched three, zero, zero, and pressed start. Instead of being greeted by the pleasant popping sound of pure snacking pleasure, I watch in horror as an arc of electricity surges through my old friend, the microwave, and snuffs the life out of it forever.

The word distraught doesn’t due justice to the emotions I was feeling while I sat at the kitchen table contemplating hari kari. After I regained control of my emotions (read: screaming, yelling, cursing, and pounding on the table) and called the repairman to fill him in on the death of my giver of snacks, I learned that I needed to drive to the hardware store and find a compatible replacement.

I walk out to my SUV (screw the Earth, I like SUVs), open the door, get in, and I close the door. Instead of the normal sound of the door closing I hear a loud crack and the door swings back open. It must have been the seat belt getting trapped in the door. I clear the belt and close again. Crack! And the door swings open. Being the reasonable and scientific minded person I am I try the only logical thing I can think of; I attempt to close the door several dozen more times all to the same results. The metal peg had ripped off the metal door frame and fallen into the hole it had torn into the frame. Dumbfounded, speechless, flabbergasted, flummoxed, astonished; those were all words my neighbors wished applied to the situation. Instead, numerous neighborhood children were introduced to words and phrases that even their parents never heard. It was a feat of vulgarian linguistic acrobatics unknown to all but a few of the most discriminating a-type personalities. Witnesses of the string of utterances knew they were witnessing a momentous event delivered by a true verbal athlete of Olympian proportions.

Abandoning my SUV, with the door still open and children crying across the street, I continued my journey to get a new microwave in my wife’s Ford Escort. I’m six feet five inches tall and driving a car built for Billy Barty, but I will not be pushed off course. At the hardware store I discover that my microwave was obsolete and the new models may not fit the cabinet, BUT there was a chance one could be modified to fit. The catch; it would take a week to get the new microwave into the store, and longer to get it installed. What could I do? I must have my favorite appliance back! My snack giver, my soup warmer, my pizza and taco warmer, what could I say? I agreed to wait.

I arrive back at my house planning to find a way to cast out the evil spirits that have surrounded me. I grab the handle of the storm door and turn… The handle comes off in my hand. The handle came off in my hand. The handle just came off in my goddamn hand! With my pulse pounding in my ears, the enamel on my teeth starting to crack from the gritting, my vision turning red, the sounds of cicadas rising in my ears, I spin around and hurl the handle with all my might into the sky while cursing the gods, I rip the door open, and storm into my house… to find the smoke detectors malfunctioning. The smoke detectors are beeping for no reason! They beep and beep over and over again, even after I confirm there is no fire, as if they are laughing at me, daring me to do anything about it. Beyond the capacity of rational thought, I located the bad detector, grabbed my walking stick, held it like a samurai warrior, and proceeded to disable the offending smoke alarm in the only way I was capable of at the moment.

My very perceptive wife saw the impending stroke looming behind my nervous breakdown and convinced me that it would be a good idea to calm down. Until later that night when the dishwasher began leaking, and the ice maker stopped working. But I weathered these storms without further meltdown and survived the microwave-wait for the entire week. Unfortunately there was no microwave on Monday… or Tuesday… or all week long for that matter. When it finally did arrive in the store it didn’t have the trim kit and couldn’t be installed. I was strong, I did not go ballistic, I did not end the life of the store manager who promised me a week, and I did not scandalize my neighbors. It would take another week or more for the microwave, but I knew I could do nothing. The gremlins were in charge.

In the ensuing week I lost a job opportunity, had the battery die in my SUV (right after getting the door fixed), had a large failure on my computer, and burnt out a DVD drive. I decided to get back to photography to try and get over that patch only to discover that the image processor on my camera was fried. I knew now that the gremlins were not just destroying my possessions they were after my mind! They wanted me to finally lose my mind. I could not give them the satisfaction.

A week later, on the same day my wife’s purse was stolen, the new microwave was finally in and the installer was on his way. Soon after he arrived we discovered that the microwave WOULD fit, but the trim kit would NOT. Fine, I say without bile, install it anyway. My bread cabinet would no longer close but after I raised the cabinet doors a bit everything seemed to slowly get back to normal. The gremlins couldn’t beat me, and now they appear to have left the building. My neighbors avoid me, but that is okay because my sanity is still, mostly, intact. And now I can again think about holidays, birthdays, and family visits with my life long muse; microwave popcorn.

 

 

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Published in: on November 13, 2007 at 6:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

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