Something is not quite right in the universe.
I’ve suspected it for a while, but I know for sure now because my television doesn’t seem to remember what channels things are supposed to be on.
The last four weeks, if we’re honest, have just been off-kilter. First there was an earthquake. Then my father’s uncle died. Then there was a hurricane. Then there was my great-uncle’s funeral, and the slot machine floral arrangement, which, I think we can all agree, is hilarious but still not right. Then there was all the stuff I’ve posted about with my friend’s family that I won’t go into again. There was the super-skinny obvi-gay kid with the yarmulke mailing 40 packages at the post office, which wasn’t a disaster and it doesn’t even matter that he was obvi-gay but was definitely just weird to see in my ultra-orthodox neighborhood. And there was torrential rain for days and flooding in some places. And then a tornado.
I may or may not have slept through the frogs.
And then it got really weird.
Friday I saw a guy on one side of the street, walking away from me on the sidewalk in red plaid knee-length shorts and a pink striped shirt. And before I could recover from that, I saw a jogging terrorist on the other side of the street, running toward me, wearing indescribably strange clothes and a red lycra ski mask.
What the hell was that?
Someone told me that those masks wick perspiration.
Great. So, a sweaty-faced jogging terrorist.
Slash bank robber.
With colorful flair.
A couple weeks ago, my downstairs neighbors’ baby turned one, and they were going to have a party for him, and they had big balloons floating on the ceiling in the living room. Only I didn’t know that, so when one of them popped really loudly directly underneath my ass as I sat on my floor around 1:30 in the morning the night before the kid’s birthday, and I felt it, I thought it sounded like a gunshot or, at the very least, an electrical explosion of some kind. So I went downstairs and tried to peer through the windows, and when that didn’t work I kind of knocked, but not too hard in case it really had been a gunshot, and then I thought it was really weird that nobody heard me knock and that the kid didn’t wake up and cry after the noise, and also I smelled something kind of funny, so I called the cops.
Yup. I did. And I explained that I know nothing about guns or gunshots, and I’m not saying it was a gunshot, but that’s what it sounded like.
(The whole time I was thinking how these neighbors are Filipino and this was an arranged marriage and the baby has a really unfortunate skin condition so he cries a lot and only the mom works so the dad is home all day with the crying baby and they only have one car which the mom takes to work which would make me pretty crazy, so it totally could have been a gunshot. But I didn’t tell the police any of that.)
And the cops knocked a few times and the neighbors finally opened the door all messy-haired and confused and I saw the balloons and I was all, “Ohhhhhhhh.”
Move along, people. Nothing to see here.
Then one night I was minding my own business in my living room when a huge spider the size of the palm of my hand came strolling out from behind the TV on the wall. Just la-dee-da like it owned the place. I gasped and jumped back and it jumped back because apparently it heard me. I knew I couldn’t just scoop it up on a piece of paper and escort it out of the building or into the bathroom, because it was huge and would definitely just scamper up my arm and lay eggs in my ear.
I mean, it had knees.
So I trapped it under a glass against the wall, and it jumped into the glass. And then I clamped a coffee mug on top of the glass, and it jumped up into the coffee mug. And then I high-tailed it into the bathroom and flung it into the toilet and flushed, and it ran around the bowl for a minute before it lost its footing and spiraled into the sewage system.
And then on 9/11, at exactly 6:00am, my smoke detector went off. A quick assessment of the lack of flames told me I was not on fire, and that is an important thing to notice when your smoke detector wakes you up at 6:00am. It’s a very surreal experience, compounded by the fact that it was 9/11 I was waiting to hear about my friend’s brother (which I’m not going into here, but you can read about here if you want to be sad).
So anyway, I got up and looked at the smoke detector, which is a few inches above my line of sight and which I could only vaguely see since I’m blind without corrective lenses. On something like the fourth series of obnoxiously ear-splittingly loud beep-beep-beeps, I clumsily pushed the Shut UP Already Button.
And then I just stared at the thing.
Because I could not figure out why it had gone off, and it was confusing me.
I went back to bed, and a few minutes later it went off again. Fantastic.
After I hit the Yes, I Get It, You Sense Danger, STOP BEEPING Button again, I climbed up on a chair and unscrewed the top of the detector from the wall to see if there was some sort of battery situation that meant it would go off every few minutes for the rest of the morning. It was when I was screwing the thing back onto the wall that I realized it’s also a carbon monoxide detector.
Now I can’t go back to bed in case I’m slowly being poisoned to death while my friend’s brother is dying on September 11th. Because that particular combination would totally suck and also would be super-inconsiderate of my friend who already has enough on his mind without me dying of carbon monoxide poisoning.
I wonder how I know whether it thinks there’s smoke (which there’s not) or carbon monoxide (which I don’t know about since it’s odorless and colorless and invisible), I thought.
This. Is so. Annoying.
I had no idea where there might be an owner’s manual for the detector, so next thing I know I’m on the internet at 6:15am trying to find a website for the company that makes the detector so it will tell me what I need to know about whether I’m going to die soon or whether I can just go back to bed. I found the company and the model and the FAQs, but of course none of the Qs were “How do I know if I’m going to die from smoke inhalation and flames, or poisonous gas?”
How is that not an FAQ?
Then I remembered that I still had the bag of crap that the management company gave me when I moved in, and maybe there was an owner’s manual in there. I dug it out from under the bed opened it and turned it upside down on the bedroom floor. It rained magnets and pizza coupons and little boxes of fabric softener and then… AHA! The smoke/carbon monoxide detector alarm owner’s manual.
It was one of those six-folded tiny printed things. I held it close to my face and mumbled some of the words aloud until I hit on what I was looking for.
Three beeps followed by a pause, repeating, indicates smoke. Four beeps followed by a pause, repeating, indicates carbon monoxide.
Excellent. No poisonous gas. Just a stupid guest of the downstairs neighbors smoking a cigarette outside, directly below the window that’s right across from the smoke detector on a humid morning.
Then there was the 9/11 surrealism and the thing with my friend’s family that required traveling and three airports and a rental car and the complete lack of any understanding of a time-space continuum.
Then we had Wednesday through Saturday.
And then last night, a married guy I’ve known for a while asked me out, like, out, because apparently they have an open marriage.
And my television does not remember what channels things are supposed to be on. ABC is on CNN, and Fox is on CBS, and CW is on Fox, and I just plain can’t get CNN or CBS. If I flip a channel, it gives me the correct one for half a second and then flips of its own volition to the wrong one, without changing the actual channel. So it’s showing me CBS’s channel number with Fox on the screen.
And the Eagles lost to the Falcons after Michael Vick gave himself a concussion running into his own guy.
Something is definitely not right in the universe.