Tuesday, April 07, 2015

COLUMN: Weekend Fail

I should've known better.

I've lived in the midwest all my life. I'm well acquainted with Illinois winters. Still, I couldn't help but get excited when the calendar revealed I was staring down an entirely free weekend. No jobs, no commitments, no obligations, no spectre of responsibility whatsoever. I could kick back, relax, and do whatever I wanted. And the Super Bowl to boot? I was in heaven.

Except that I wasn't, which heaven reminded me by pooping down a foot of snow on my head.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though. First up was a snow-free Friday night, and what better way to spend it than with my best friend Jason. The plan was simple: grab some food and throw caution to the wind. A thriving nightlife of bars, clubs, bands, and girls beckoned. Where we'd end up was anybody's guess. Except we didn't end up anywhere

See, I'd forgotten one important plot twist to our 20+ year friendship dynamic. Without fail, if you put the two of us in a car and factor in hunger, we will NEVER come to a consensus on where to eat. Suddenly every restaurant option in the Quad Cities will sound utterly abysmal. Eventually, one of us will say "I'm in the mood for _________," and whatever the blank is, the other will have eaten there for lunch that very day. Hence, we end up driving around forever in a fruitless search for some elusively perfect eatery that simply does not exist.

That's exactly how it played out Friday when we drove from Rock Island to Silvis and back again before settling on a neighborhood bar & grill because it was the only place still open by that point. It was all good, though. Maybe big sports on a big screen would be the perfect way to get properly fired up for the night ahead. That's why I was super mega excited to walk in, look up, and be treated to the hustle-bustle, take no prisoners, breakneck adrenaline spectacle of... women's golf. Greeeat. And that's not me being sexist -- it's me being golfist. If watching people whack balls and slowly walk after them is your thing, groovy. Me, not so much.

By the time food was consumed and golf was adequately spectated, we'd lived all the nightlife either of us cared to, so Friday was kind of a wash. Saturday I had plans with another friend to binge-watch some of the shows piling up on my DVR, but the weather had already caused her to cancel. I knew I was at the mercy of the snow gods on Saturday; Sunday, however, was a different matter.

I wasn't planning on letting a little thing like an overnight blizzard put a damper on the Super Bowl. As long as the plows were out, I was certain to have a house full of friends for footballery, finger food, and some dip recipes I found online.

How dedicated was I to the task? Enough to set my alarm for 8 a.m. Sunday to fire up the crock pots. Good move, because I was up and awake for almost eight whole minutes before my neighborhood lost power. Now, I'm no master chef, but I'm fairly certain that crock pots work best when they're turned on. Also, a critical part of Super Bowl parties is, in fact, the Super Bowl, and not just sitting around in darkness taking guesses as to what's happening. None of this mattered, though, because one look outside told me that no houseguests would be arriving. I stand firm in my belief that Rock Island has the greatest snow removal team in the QC, but as we all know, on Sunday the snow won.

It turns out my house is disturbigly silent without the comforting hum of my fridge and air purifier harmonizing throughout the day. I'm pretty sure I could hear my own arteries clogging. I used to think that my cats were adorable little creatures; now I realize they're slurping, licking, sniffing noisemakers that I've thankfully been able to drown out until now.

My thermostat has a battery backup, so I could watch first-hand as the indoor temp lost a degree or two every 20 minutes. My living room descended from t-shirt weather into an overshirt, sweater, and jacket. But the cold wasn't the worst villain of the day. That prize went to my smoke detectors. As it turns out, they also have a battery backup, which was news to me since I've never touched them. And guess what happens to a bunch of stale batteries when they're suddenly tasked with job duties?

"BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!" screamed the noise that was everywhere all at once and continued every fifteen minutes thereafter. Once upon a time, someone built this house. And that someone at some point decided it would be a grand idea to mount the smoke detectors on the ceiling. Given that hot air rises and all, I suppose this is wise in principle. The problem, though, is that my house has vaulted ceilings -- and even the simplest of battery changes requires nerves of steel, aerial agility, and a magic beanstalk to ascend into the heavens.

I was fresh out of magic beans, but I did have a ladder. My dad bought it for me, and it's one of those compact jobs that looks like a stepladder but magically transforms into Optimus Ladder Prime if you have the necessary doctorate in physics required to figure the thing out. Based on its weight, I'd reckon it's made of pure lead, spare cannonballs, and gravity.

I managed to get it in place, but I'll be darned if I could figure out how to extend it. My neighbor came over, fiddled with it a bit, and left with the same dumbfounded look that I'd been wearing for well over an hour. Spare the waterboarding; if we REALLY want bad guys to talk, just send them over to my place. After one hour of beeping, I was hysterically laughing. After TWO hours, I was nearly crying. By the third hour, I was out in the garage, sitting in my car just praying for one of those lady golfers to show up and slice a ball through either the smoke detector OR my brain. Eventually I lined the bedroom door with towels and duct tape and vowed never to enter again.

Seven hours later, my power came back on, the beeping stopped, and my sanity came back in just enough time to watch Pete Carroll lose his. I even had time to make one of those dips, which might have been good had I not misread a teaspoon as a tablespoon and accidentally created a dip of essentially raw basil suspended in mayonnaise.

As soon as the roads became passable, a friend more physics-minded than myself sorted out the ladder situation and changed the battery. Eventually I got the taste of basil out of my mouth. And pretty much the minute I got back to work, I put in a vacation request for next week. For once, I might just be able to kick back, relax, and do whatever I want.

I probably should know better.

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