Thursday, April 22, 2010


(The window shown is the last vestige of where any of the old window unit ACs were at this house. All of the old window units have been removed, including the one in the master bedroom.)

When this house was built, it didn’t have central air conditioning, but there were window unit ACs in the bedrooms and the den. After the house was over 10 years old, central air was installed and all of the window units were removed except for the unit in the master bedroom, where my mom now sleeps. Once in a while, the AC will break down, so that window unit in the master bedroom comes in quite handy. For example, when Abby was a little over a year old, the AC conked out. We were without AC for a couple of days except in my mom’s bedroom until the repairman was able to schedule a visit to the house to fix the AC. My mom said I could make a pallet in her room if I wanted to sleep in an air conditioned room. However, that is just too damned weird for me. It’s bad enough being a grown man living at home with his mom, but to actually sleep in my mom’s room was too much for me to bear. Instead, I chose to sweat it out until the AC was fixed. I thought Abby shouldn’t have to sleep in the heat if there was an option, so I let her sleep in my mom’s room for a couple of nights while the AC was out.

Late, very late, on one of these AC-free nights, my mom burst into my room, flicked the light on and shouted “Quick, get up. There is a fire in the house!” She told me that the fire alarm was sounding; the security company had called as well as the 911 dispatch. The message on our answering machine said that the firemen were on their way. It was too late for us to do anything at that point but to wait for the firefighters to show. This isn’t a suspense story; there was no fire. The cockamamie security system had once again given us a false alarm. This time, we slept through a fire alarm and several phone calls in the middle of the night and as a result we would be paid a visit by our local fire department.

I’ve noted my tendencies of being a heavy sleeper. I’ve been like that all my life. When I was 6, I broke my arm and had to be sedated when the doctors reset it. By the time I was put under, it was well past midnight, so when the anesthesia wore off, I had smoothly transitioned from sedation to sleep. I slept so soundly that the doctors and nurses couldn’t wake me up so they brought my parents back to the post-op area to try to awake me. They succeeded but it took some effort. I still remember to this day seeing them hover over me and the lights above me spinning around like it was a scene from a cartoon when one of the characters were knocked out.
But what about my mom, what was her excuse for not waking up? Although she is a sound sleeper, she isn’t quite as bad as I am. The wall unit AC didn’t help matters. Those things are loud and ‘rattley’, drowning out most outside noise that may try to seep through. On that night the alarm system malfunctioned, the deck was stacked against me or my mom for there to be any chance of either of us waking up in time before the security company escalated matters in responding to what they thought was a fire in our house.

I don’t pop out of bed since I’m usually disoriented and sluggish when I first awake. By the time I lumbered my way out to the front, my mom had already greeted the firemen who she let in and were standing in the kitchen. I don’t even know if I had put on my shirt and could very well have been standing there in just a pair of shorts. My mom was in her nightgown. Abby was simply excited. To further her state of elation, the firemen were in their full uniforms--coat, hat, mask and all. Abby thought they were here to play and she started jumping up on them and wagging her tail. One of the games I would play with Abby was my putting on a Halloween mask and jumping out to surprise Abby. Since these guys were about the same age and demographic as me, Abby thought that they too were her play-mates and this was play-time. Me and my mom were embarrassed as hell. We felt like slugs sleeping through the siren and phone calls.
The firemen asked the obvious question if there was fire in the house. There wasn’t. To be on the safe side, a couple of them went around to all the rooms to look for themselves, and one even went up to the attic to check there, of course Abby escorted them to the back while they did their inspection. Everything was OK except for that damned alarm system. A couple of the guys petted Abby once the ‘all clear’ sign was given. We apologized for the circumstances and they went on their way.

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