Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Well, This Sucks

There are nights I wish we lived in the fifties again. The nineteen fifties, not the temperature although nights in the fifties would be damn pleasant compared to the other climactic extremes we sometimes try and sleep through.

There are the winter nights where, by the time you get home from work and cajole the furnace to kick it up a notch or two, it's purt near time for bed and the house is still a snapping sixty two. This means a whole lot of shaking going on under the covers and since I live alone that's basically spastic body jerks trying to garner some heat as I've forgotten to put flannel sheets on the bed again.

The opposite extreme is of course the sweltering summer night where the temperature hangs on to the mid eighties like Wally Mondale hoping for a second shot. Sure you can turn the window air conditioner on but if its the first heat of the season and you're me, chances are the window unit is somewhere in the basement under the Christmas decorations you just took down last week. Getting it involves lights, stairs, opening windows, hoping the cat doesn't make a charge for it, jerking you off your balance as you try and deflect her latest attempt to fly over these prison walls and chances are you will be back at Wallymart the next morning anyway as you've dumped the unit out of a second floor bedroom window.

Nope. Give me consistent nights in the fifties. Good sleeping weather as a New England weatherman used to say and the ex and I would look at each other, breathe a sigh of relief in that at least tonight we had a reason to leave each other alone. I can doze until the cows come home and crap all over the new rug.

But I'm after fifties, the decade. Ike, A-bombs, big chrome gasoline powered monsters and a sigh of relief that we take take a little vacation after saving the world.

I'd like to bring back the cocktail hour from that era. I think its a damn civil ritual that we've gotten too far away from. A good highball at the end of a hard day is a fitting reward for having gone through that day and ample incentive to try another one just like it tomorrow.

Last night was one of those nights after one of those days and Thumper and I gave it a whirl on a purely experimental basis. But it seemed to be working. The gin was measured out, the shaker filled with ice and the olives lined up for the perfect red vermouth sweet martini. One of the local barkeeps calls it a "Gin Manhattan" where as I prefer a "Bond Free Martini." Whatever the nomenclature, its a damn fine drink, we poured two into chilled glasses and set about having dinner.

The sink in the knob and tube is an odd thing. It works just fine but is a single bowl with a garbage disposal in its center that kind of leers at you like an all-consuming maw. There's no strainer or impediment to water flow into the maw other than a rubber skirt that runs around the edge of the unholy orifice and really just re-directs stuff into the center of the processor. I've used the thing once or twice on cat food or limp pasta but generally I'm not keen on dumping pounds of solids into the sewer system since the piping at the knob and tube could conceivably still be hollowed out log for all I know. The place is old.

Thumper did dinner so I did dishes. I'm running the water and its filling the sink which is not really the point. If I wanted to soak the dishes in water that was pretty much just a more fluid version of dinner I'd have the cats lick the plate clean and be done with it. So I evacuated the rest of the cutlery out of the sink, gave it a good rinse and that being the last of the dirty stuff, planned to hit the disposal switch and give some mechanical encouragement to the water that felt it had to stand around like me at a high school dance. Except I didn't. For some reason I reasoned that there might be more than just an old detrius impediment to the water draining. I reached my hand past the rubble skirt into the guts of the thing and hoped not to come across an errant floater of a pork chop. What I found was the bullet shaped top of the martini shaker.

Now there's disaster neatly averted.

Like I said, the shaker top is bullet shaped. Its smooth and doesn't really allow you purchase with your hand. Add to that you're in a restricted space, your hand is the size of a holiday ham with kielbasa fingers and you add up pretty quickly that you're not going to just reach in and grab this thing. So you flip it over and get a hold of an edge. Gently coax it up but the rubber skirt impedes the opening like a plumbing hovercraft from hell. Stuff some tongs down into the maw and the same skirt is getting in your way. Thumper's more delicate hand is also no match for the abyss so you've got to start using some cranial matter to get to this thing which of course is not easy in that it was a very good martini, but now its over.

Thankfully, the brain is only addled. Unlike a civil servant, it remains functional on some level.

Grab the bulb of the recently semi retired gravy baster, give it a good squeeze and let the force of a vacuum get a hold of the smooth nose of the cone and hoist it up. Nice try but you get a slurping sound. In addition to the one you're making getting the last of the martini, its the gravy baster bulb losing its purchase on the nosecone.

This is America. Never force anything. Use a bigger hammer.

The damn rubber skirt continues to irk me so, given my relative valuation of a garbage disposal versus a martini shaker, a sharp kitchen knife makes quick work of cutting the skirt out.

Then there's a vacuum cleaner close and handy. Snap the extension onto the hose, stuff it down the drain until you hit the shaker cover and, voila! Out comes the thing to gleam in the halogen spots another day!

I live in town. The houses are close together and the windows are generally uncovered. We're a friendly neighborhood. I shut the vacuum down, the nose cone dropped into my hand and I looked up to see my neighbor sort of standing by his kitchen window, sort of watching all the theatrics going on in mine.

After a one handed sink massage, I pointed a knife at the drain and finally stuffed a vacuum hose down it. I can only imagine him wishing he had the soundtrack to the action.

We're due over there in a week or so for the annual holiday open house. I'm sure he'll have some interesting questions about last night. I'm sure I'll have some interesting answers. Maybe we'll share them over a drink.

Bunny on.


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