The older you get, the greater your chances become of having to eat crow over something you misstated, misjudged or, as is typical for me, “mis-ridiculed” at an earlier point in your life. For example, it turns out that sensible shoes actually are the sensible choice once your aging arches are falling like London Bridge.
Having downed a feathered wing or two myself has made me sympathetic to others who find themselves with a plateful, but I admit I had to dig a little to find sympathy for my sister’s avian meal the other day.
As the youngest in a family of tomboys, I was the odd one out, the girly-girl who played tea party instead of cops and robbers, who preferred ruffles to roughhousing. The only apparent concession I made to my male side was my total devotion to The Three Stooges, which my sisters ironically deemed offensive to their sensibilities. They spent their childhoods armed with cap guns, firing off round after round at imaginary bad guys, while a chunk of mine was spent in front of the TV, “nyuk, nyuk, nyuk-ing” it up with my boys.
“That nonsense is gonna rot your brain,” they eye-rolled, their tone full of adolescent superiority. “A complete waste of time.”
(Yeah, like the sulfur fumes from exploded cap strips were brain food. And I’m learning plenty, I thought, as I rolled my eyes back at them.)
Fast forward more than a couple decades to the other night when my older sister was jolted out of a sound sleep by the blare of her smoke alarm. As she was desperately inspecting every inch of her house for smoke or flames, the alarm spontaneously stopped. After double-checking the house, she determined the alarm had simply malfunctioned. She crawled back into bed and had just drifted off when the blaring began again. She covered her ears and tried to wait it out, but after several minutes, the alarm was still going full blast.
She realized she’d have to disconnect it, but was very nervous about climbing up a step ladder with a bad knee that often goes out without warning. Not to mention, she’d witnessed my other sister lose her balance on a ladder, fall and break her hip. Out of aces, she reluctantly dragged the ladder out of the garage and gingerly climbed up to reach the alarm. That’s when she discovered that it was hard wired. So she climbed down, got a pair of scissors, climbed back up and snipped the wires. The alarm continued blaring in her hands. Apparently, she had some good back-up batteries, which, unfortunately, she couldn’t figure out how to remove.
In frustration, she threw that devil’s instrument out on the back patio and slammed the door shut. But it continued its god-awful blaring, so she retrieved it before the neighbors called 911. Turning back from the patio door, she spied her kitchen sink where she’d left a casserole dish soaking in soapy water and pitched the alarm into the water in a frantic attempt to drown the beast. She even turned on the hot water for good measure. And, magically, the blaring started to die down and eventually stopped completely. She extracted the lifeless carcass from the sink and, with great satisfaction, tossed it in the trash.
I was dumbfounded. She had pretty much outlined the script of “Gents in a Jam,” the Three Stooges episode where they try a number of ways to turn off a radio that’s playing an annoying song. Despite being unplugged, thrown out the window and stomped on, the radio will not “die” until Moe and Shemp finally drown it in the kitchen sink. “You got me, glurg, glurg glurg” are its final words.
“I don’t know what made me throw it in the sink, but thank goodness I did,” she said when she had finished recounting her harrowing adventure to me.
“Seriously?” I asked in disbelief. “You have The Three Stooges and me to thank for putting an end to your alarming nightmare,” I explained as I recounted the “Gents in a Jam” plot to her. “You obviously absorbed their lessons subconsciously. And to think you used to say watching them was a waste of time. Now excuse me while I go prepare your plate of crow.”
“Well, I guess the last ‘nyuk, nyuk, nyuk’ is on me,” she chortled.
“Indeed it is,” I sniffed. “And the last caw, caw caw as well.”