Where There’s Smoke…

While furiously wiggling out of my skirt and heels and into jeans and a pair of snuggly Uggs… I heard it. And I knew what it was. I simply did NOT have time to deal with it. Not yet. I had two hours of daylight left and a two and a half hour drive ahead of me. Oh and did I mention that it was a two and half hour drive toward an I-need-a-break-or-my-head-is-going-to-explode weekend? Yeah, well it was. It was imperative that I leave right THEN… noise or no noise. It was absolutely critical that I hop in my car and drive 75 mph toward 48 hours of spending time with my man, sleeping as long as I want to and indulging in more than a few tall glasses of beer.

The sound to which I am referring (but chose to ignore) was the annoying “my-battery-is-low-you-irresponsible-bitch” chirping sound that smoke detectors make to alert the resident that their untimely death-by-fire is imminent. So the battery is low in one of them. Big deal. There are two others in the house and I’ll change it when I return home early Sunday evening fully refreshed and renewed.

It was a decent plan—had it actually worked out that way. Instead, I return home a little too late and a little too tired from a little too much fun and all I want to do is relax, watch some crappy re-runs and go to bed. Naturally, I had completely forgotten about the smoke detector’s demand for juice. But it wasn’t long before I was reminded.

Reclining in front of aforementioned crappy re-runs, I heard it. Alright, which one of you is unhappy? I was within ear-shot of all four of the potential offenders. There are three smoke detectors and one CO detector. Muting the TV and getting up from my chair, I stand in the middle of the house and listen—ears tuned like a bat. Ah-ha! It is the one in the kitchen! I run to it and stand beneath it waiting for one more chirp just to be sure. And I DO hear it again… but not from THIS one. Damn. I think it’s the CO detector in the stairwell. I run to the stairwell where I am in sight of both the CO AND the upstairs smoke detector. I will surely be able to identify the malcontent this time. And there it is again! But it isn’t coming from EITHER ONE of these. Damn. There is only one left, but it is in the basement and it CAN’T be that one because the sound wouldn’t be nearly as loud as it is. And I have now wasted 20 minutes on this frustrating and obviously futile effort. I will just have to dismantle ALL three of the suspects if I am ever to find peace.

Carrying a dining-room chair around the house to use as a stool (I’m only 5’2”) I rip each one from its resting place and pry out the batteries. When all is said and done my kitchen counter looks like Ted Kaczynski’s workbench, but at least now I will have some peace and quiet. However, while getting ready for bed… I hear it AGAIN. It was faint, but unmistakable. By process of elimination and demolition, it has GOT to be the one in the basement. Standing in the basement now and staring up at the OBVIOUS offender, it looks back at me… silently.

So I make a call to my father, who yes… happens to live right across the street. The chirping continues UNTIL my father arrives in his pajamas… at which point that vexing chirping completely STOPS altogether. Of course it does. He checks the only one left—the one that I am positive it CANNOT be: the basement one. Aaaaand just as I suspected, that one IS working. He tests it and points out the little red light that is blinking on and off to demonstrate that it is indeed in working order. Damn.

There was nary a chirp the entire time he was in my house, doing a complete walk-through and taking inventory of my destructive quest-for-silence handiwork. Of course there wasn’t. He leaves. I stare at the remnants of my “safety devices” scattered across the kitchen counter, daring them to chirp at me again. I know the batteries have all been removed, but at this point, what else could it be? Can they continue to chirp WITHOUT their batteries like a chicken continues to run around after its head has been chopped off? Maybe they can. Out of desperation, I decide to have a conversation with the whole obnoxious gang as they sit there smugly—mocking me. And I ask them calmly to shut the hell up and assure them that they will ALL receive stupid new batteries tomorrow whether they need them or not. They remain silent. Perhaps I have been heard.

In a tense quiet I go upstairs and crawl into bed, praying that I have had the last word. I pull the covers up to my chin, close my eyes and begin drifting off to sleep… when all the sudden, piercing the darkness is—you guessed it—a singular, taunting chirp. Disgusted and defeated, I put a pillow over my head and decide that they may have won this battle… But tomorrow I will win the war.


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