Thursday, October 18, 2007

Homeland Security

Yesterday, shortly after arriving at work, I somehow managed to convince myself that I'd left the front burner on and that the tea kettle was slowly melting, would catch fire and Ken I would be summoned home to find a smoldering pile of ash and cinder, and also a quite few angry-looking neighbors.

I do this; I turn insanely obsessive-compulsive for a few weeks every couple of years. In Chicago I'd drive halfway to work, decide I'd left the coffeepot or the iron on, or that the windows were open and someone would break into the house, before I consciously knew what I was doing, I'd flip a U-turn and drive 30 minutes back home only to discover the coffeepot and iron off and our two golden retrievers, Ashley and Nikki, sitting up in the closed windows watching me and loving me despite my obvious mental illness. I have no idea if other people do this (please fess up if so!), and would love to know that I'm not too far outside the realm of normal mania.

Amber was in the middle of telling an endless and boring story about several other people we work with when I thought, I don't remember turning the kettle off. On and on she went, who said what to whom and what she thought about the whole situation. I bet the burner is red and smoking even as I sit and listen to this inane story, I told myself. I know my eyes kind of glazed over and Amber's voice turned into the buzzing of a nasty florescent bulb. I bet the kettle is made with lead paint. I bet it comes from China. The cats are running wild, trying to dodge the toxic fumes. Those damn Chinese are at it again, trying to kill our pets. Amberamberamber in the background. She's going to Hawaii for two weeks just as my corner of the world is turning cold and brown. I don't have to listen to her. In five days she'll be sitting on a beach surrounded by palm trees and surf boards. Screw her! Duncan is probably scratching at the door, whimpering for help, unable to understand why his papa would allow this to happen to him, allow the Chinese-lead-based-tea-kettle industry to tear our family apart. Something must be done.

"I'm sorry," I cut Amber off and stand up. "I'm pretty sure I turned my stove off but I need to check. I'm going home. It's insanely OCD, I know, but I'll make myself sick if I don't go now."

Amber has seen me sick, has seen me manic and hopped up on Wellbutrin, and she's my friend, which means she knows better than to question me when I get like this. "Okay, go home," she says, and instantly her voice ceases to sound like the voicees of grown-up in Charlie Brown cartoons.

And then I'm off, driving the eight minutes it takes to get home. I imagine coming across the burning mass of my building, firetrucks and onlookers gathered around, their shapes coming and going amid the dark smoke. Briefly I envision myself leaping selflessly into the flames to rescue our chillins, as we call them, our three cats and Duncan. Would The Post cover the story? What about The Rocky Mountain News? Will there be an outpouring of support for me in my loss and grief? Will Oprah ask me on?

Thankfully the building is exactly as I left it 45 minutes earlier, quiet and almost stately looking with the sun shining on the upper floors. The grass is wet and the sky is high and blue and it's a perfect Autumn morning in every way. A Hollywood set designer could not have placed the leaves more perfectly on the trees and at the base of their trunks. Someone jogs by, and then a woman with her baby stroller pushes past.

Ah, life is good, I almost think, and then, Maybe the Chinese have devised a way to make these lead-ridden tea kettles simmer a long time before they burst into flame and spray kettle shrapnel and cinders of chamomile tea leaves every which way. I better check.

So I unlock the door and step inside. The cats are in conference in the middle of the living room looking guilty and shocked to see me as if they've been planning an attack. Pip scampers away, leaving Winnie and Olive to cover. Winnie turns her back and begins grooming her paws nonchalantly. Olive flashes her best baby eyes at me as I move inside toward the kitchen.

Duncan does not appear, which is most unusual.

The first thing I do is check the burner. It's off. The kettle is still warm from my Egyptian Licorice tea so I move it to the back burner, scan all the knobs and tell myself they're all off. Satisfied, I inspect the coffeepot. The kitchen is all clear. I have successfully averted another attack by the Chinese.

But still no Dunc.

I find him in the bedroom, his Buddy tucked under his chin, resting peacefully on my pillows, eyes closed and smiling. He doesn't move. I don't know if he even really knows I was there.
How's that for Homeland Security?!

1 comment:

Kelly Medina said...

Funny post, even if you seem a bit cuckoo!

My main freak out is when I am in bed and I ask Chris if he has locked the doors. Usually he says a confident "yes", but on occasion he pauses too long before saying "I think so". I'm cozy and warm and really don't want to get up. So I try to blow it off. Then I began to imagine someone coming in and looking over me while I sleep. Kivan would surely alert me, but she has been known to be completely oblivious at times. I tell myself to not worry and of course the doors are locked. But what if they aren't. What if I wake up and a menacing silhouette is standing at the end of the bed. What am I going to do to fight him off!? This is only a snippet of the creative ideas of who and what will come in. So Chris will usually get up because I have rambled on about WHAT COULD happen if they aren't locked. Not nagging, but I think I basically just freak him out too. :)
A job well done in my opinion >:)