One afternoon when I was home alone I brought in the old wet-dry vacuum from the garage to remove from a corner of the fireplace a small clump of soot that must have fallen from the chimney. That’s when it all started.
I turned on the vacuum, stuck the nozzle into the soot, and waited for it to disappear.
It vanished from the fireplace all right, but instantly reappeared pretty much all over the living room. The vac somehow blew part of the soot backward all over my left leg and shoe, the coffee table, the floor, part of a bookcase, a leather sofa that had been brown, and even the wall.
When my wife, Jackie, came home, I was cleaning up as best I could, still partially covered with soot.
“Why can’t you just take a nap when I’m gone?” she asked.
That ugly episode triggered painful flashbacks of other unforgettable blunders.
Years ago when no one was home, I tried to warm up some leftover Sloppy Joes but somehow got distracted, went outdoors, and left the Sloppy Joes on the burner.
By the time I smelled smoke, the Sloppy Joes mix was more like (to borrow from a well-known movie title) Sloppy Joes Versus the Volcano. The house had to be fumigated.
Then there was the Christmas that I got a metal detector and could not wait to give it a try.
About dusk on a Sunday, I was searching in the side yard near the edge of the woods, along a small creek, hoping to unearth some long-lost relic of the past, maybe a blacksmith’s tool, or a toy tractor from the 1930s.
I was almost ready to give up when the metal detector treasure alarm sounded a long, loud, joyous beeeeeeeeeep!
“Whoa!” I thought. “This is something big.” After more beeping, I determined that the mysterious underground object, whatever it was, was slender and long. At this point I’m thinking Civil War sword, or maybe even a musket.
Light was fading fast and the old long-handled shovel wasn’t moving enough dirt, so I fetched a grubbing hoe from the garage and went to work. After a few furious swings, I found the object that had set off the metal detector. It appeared to be a piece of cable.
I was still pondering the discovery when someone yelled out the door that the television had just gone off. It turned out that my “treasure” was the television cable, and I had stopped the CBS network’s famous stopwatch in mid-tick.
Our four children gleefully remember the embarrassing incident as “the night Dad dug up 60 Minutes.”
I still have the metal detector, but rarely used it after that night. It is stored in the garage, right next to a soot-covered wet-dry vac.
I need a nap.