Months ago, right after Tex took off for rainy Vancouver and left our au pair Janie and I all alone to care for the house, the basement started beeping. Which was quite concerning, given that basements don’t beep.
Generally my farm raised, cowboy husband takes care of these sorts of issues. He’s a dab hand at that type of house stuff. When I bring him some broken, wrought-iron patio furniture, he says things like “Oh, I’ll just weld that back together” as if it’s the easiest task in the world. Then I feel silly, because if only I had thought to break out the blow torch and stick the leg back on the chair with finesse and panache. Of course being raised in the middle of suburbia where my father hired people to put together IKEA bookshelves, I’m about eight different kinds of handy as one might imagine. Or not.
Anyway, so there Janie and I were, most likely about to be blown sky high because our house was sounding an awful lot like the bus from “Speed”. And worst of all, Keanu Reeves didn’t even bother to show up and help, so we were all by ourselves trying to figure out the reason for the beeping.
While Janie considered my theory that terrorists had driven four hours from Winnipeg, broken into our house and implanted a bomb in our basement to make a statement about how tasteless it is to have a play structure in your living room instead of a couch, ultimately, we decided that it was one of the many electronic machines that live downstairs that was making the racket.
The difficulty was that the beeping wasn’t incessant; it was only a couple of times an hour, making it hard to locate the exact source of the noise. Within a day, we determined that it wasn’t coming from the laundry room. Janie and I had both been folding clothes when we heard the muffled beep from another room. This was reassuring because when washing machines go rogue, it’s ironically quite messy.
Eventually we determined the source – the random box in the corner that we have no idea what it does but it says in big letters “DO NOT UNPLUG!” so it seems foreboding that something like that would be acting up. After two consecutive weeks of beeping, I was done; giant capital letters or not, that electronic box was getting unplugged. While I will confess to being a harbinger of chaos and destruction, I do attempt to be a good mom most of the time- so I asked Janie to take Mini-Tex upstairs while I cut the beeping monster’s power.
Happily, there were no explosions, and Keanu Reeves once again failed to show up but I’d stopped expecting him about ten days back, so that was fine. I stood there, with the cord in my hands saying nasty words to the formerly noisy box and then because I don’t enjoy that much chaos, and didn’t want the firemen to come back, because we still had no idea what it was, so I plugged it back in. There was silence. I felt smug and slightly all-powerful for defying the capital letters and living to tell the tale. But then, it came again- BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP.
It was then that I had a brainwave- what if the mystery box wasn’t placed by aliens to spy on me and steal my secret to having skin that is prone to freckles and random allergic reactions? What if it was part of the weird alarm system that we never ever use because we’re terrible tenants? After a call to the alarm company, and resetting the entire system, for the first time in weeks there was quiet in the house. But then it came back, like raging case of herpes – BEEEEEEEEEEP.
At that point, I gave up. After all, I learned to live like a mole person in a house that 90% of the windows begin above my sightline, so what’s the harm in adding beeps to my existence? I’ll just pretend that I live in a mole-person, robot dance club that only plays one song.
Part Two – For Pete’s Sake This HAS To Be Someone’s Monkey! Please, If This Is Your Monkey Come Get It. It Has Fleas, Bites and Snores Like a Bandsaw During The Night. I’ll Bet You Miss It More Than Anything
Yes there’s a part two! EVERYONE knows that isn’t how mole person, robot dance parties end!
The mystery machine in my basement which said in big letters DO NOT UNPLUG, was still beeping a monotone song and I just decided to groove with it. The alarm company hadn’t laid claim to the plastic box. So probably the box was installed by evil geniuses who were conducting a study about how long a box could beep before the inhabitants of the house lost their minds.
The ignoring coping mechanism worked for another month, at which point I got fed up with the chronic beeping, climbed on a chair and more closely inspected our irritating electronic DJ. Huzzah! There was a website written in tiny letters, I visited the site and discovered that the mystery box beeps when the battery is low. And the box supposedly belongs to the phone company. Please note that the website did not explain the purpose of said mystery box or why it is imperative that the mystery box should not be unplugged, which leads me to believe that the government is spying on me and I need to start wearing tinfoil hats and clothing like a character out of the Wizard of Oz. The website detailed how to remove said low battery and where to take it once removed.
The battery removal instruction pictures made it look easy, but based on the images, the company had Hagrid remove the battery – whose hands measure a foot and a half from pinky to thumb? There is no way that my pinky and thumb could stretch like that. As it happened Mini-Tex was playing in the basement while I did this. It was a proud moment for me because he learned the F word in this whole process. Around the second time that Mini-Tex dropped his second F-bomb, I called in the cavalry and had Tex finish taking out the battery.
Finally, after three months of intermittent beeping there was silence in the house. I would have thrown a parade with a marching band and children playing kazoos to celebrate but there remained the problem of a battery the size of Estonia.
Anything that large needs to be recycled and responsibly. So I set off to the mall to give back the phone company what was rightfully theirs and demand a new one because at the very least if we weren’t going to use the alarm system, we would make sure that it was functional. We’re mediocre tenants like that.
“Here!” I heaved the battery onto the counter. “I believe this is yours” I said to the woman and then she looked at me like I had three heads. “Please don’t look at me like that” I begged. “I listened to this mystery plastic box beep for three months straight and I finally removed this enormous albatross from its electronic innards and taught my son the F-word in the process and now you have to take it because the website said you would and the internet never lies.”
“It’s not my monkey.” The woman replied. Actually that’s not true; she mostly looked at me with confusion, pity and a bit of annoyance because while I was saying this Mini-Tex was throwing all of the cell phone cases onto the floor. But she told me that she had never seen anything like that in her life and no she would absolutely not take it, nor did she have any idea where I could recycle it and had no clue where I could get another one. She suggested that maybe I should call the alarm company again.
Then I collapsed in a puddle of frustration and anguish. Only not actually, because I’m thirty and have a child so I had to put the 57 cell phone protectors back on the wall. But I thanked the sales associate in a way that let her know that the act of apologizing and leaving the store with the battery was stabbing my soul. And then apologized again for taking her time, because I’m Canadian.
Back to square one. At the very least, the beeping had ceased although there was a part of me questioning that if the mystery box was so clear about NEVER BEING UNPLUGGED, that it was likely bad that the elephant sized battery was sitting on my dresser rather than in its mysterious plastic home.
Once again, I called the alarm company, described the now silent box and the battery then inquired where I might get another battery and where I should dispose of this one. The alarm company was all “Sorry, it’s not our monkey, also we have no clue where to get a new one and that mystery box isn’t ours.” So since the box doesn’t belong to the phone company or the alarm company, the only conclusion is that I’m being spied on by Martians, which is reassuring because I’m fairly certain that I’ve cut the power to their planet by removing the gargantuan battery from the mystery box.
That’s my life this week in a nutshell. If I disappear without a trace, please send NASA to find me. Also, if the aliens come knocking looking for the heart of their civilization- it’s on my kitchen counter.