It’s rare, but sometimes the Abyss has visitors.
We’ve lived in this house for over three years now. Three bedrooms feels like the lap of luxury after our single-wide. Before we moved in, we scouted the house. I brought a tape measure and scoped out the smaller bedrooms. One was slightly larger than the other. I called dibs for my home office. (I was still working at home at the time. Something the Universe snatched away the day after we moved in.) The smaller room went to one of our gerbils that was still home nesting.
Eventually that gerbil moved out and entered his “no permanent residence – mooching” phase. (Where he remains to this day. It’s not a specific place. It’s a state of mind.)
The room he left behind was devastation. Firefighters showed up with sniffing dogs to look for survivors. The Governor declared a state of emergency. The President himself even circled the scene several times in his helicopter while on the way to the links, and although he didn’t land and actually step out, that still held a lot of symbolic meaning for us.
The walls were covered in gerbil spray. As my wife cleaned, she found dishes we hadn’t seen in years, in various states of decay. At last our collection of flatware was almost fully restored. (Many pieces, unfortunately, were lost forever when tossed in the garbage by our disinterested gerbildentia.)
The blinds hanging in the window were literally broken in half and hung there as limp as George W. Bush’s first and last months in office. When asked about the blinds, the gerbil feigned total lack of knowledge, a common survival trait among the genus. My wife is more clever than that. She went outside, looked on the ground below the window, and found some coins. With Holmsian instincts she deduced that, for some unknown reason, someone had used the window portal for ingress and/or egress, something the gerbil still denies to this day. The cold case remains unsolved along with several other gerbil mysteries.
Once sterilized, the room finally became my wife’s office and arts and crafts room, something she had always wanted and delayed for a bonus period of time because of the gerbil. It had finally happened. It was almost an unbelievable moment.
My wife would frequently talk about providing guest lodging, and, as she loves to point out, it should be in my office, since I had the larger room. Curse you, dibs!
But, as an anti-social people, this was way down the priority list and never happened. In fact, not counting gerbils, I’m pretty sure only one person has ever spent the night in this house. And that was just last month.
We had a guest. One who spent the night. It was my wife’s brother. While here, he would occasionally have a minor effect on the household routine. This is a story about one of those effects.
We don’t have night lights. Instead we leave the light on above the kitchen sink. It’s the only light we ever leave on.
I woke up early in the morning. It was still pitch dark. I made my way to the kitchen and gradually became aware that something was amiss. Eventually I realized that the light above the kitchen sink was off. What the hell? Then I noticed something else.
There was light coming from ice/water tray in our refrigerator door.
WHAT THE HELL?
My wife’s brother is quite the handyman. During our visit he was fixing all sorts of things. I sensed he had worked his magic with this whole light thing. I was totally perplexed.
I looked up inside the recessed area in the door and saw the little light bulb. I’ll be damned, I thought. Three years in this house and I didn’t even know a light bulb was there. And, somehow, he had figured out how to turn it on.
Of course, I had to restore the natural order of things. I turned on the light above the kitchen sink. Then I looked for a way to turn that refrigerator light off. I like to think I’m an intelligent guy, but five minutes of searching and applying reason left me high and dry. I literally couldn’t figure the damn thing out.
Then, at the last possible instant, as I was already walking away, I noticed it. An on/off button that was labeled “Light.” Ahhhhh! Clever bastards.
It was quite a sobering moment. I call such things blind spots or knowledge gaps. Now I can stop thinking about how many others like that I have that I’m not even aware exist. Sobering indeed.
It’s probably not wise to feel so damn sure of myself all the time.