A wave of cardboard boxes sweeps off the top shelf and cascades down the lesser shelves…
A second wave triggered by the first kicks up a roiling dust cloud and gives birth to a third wave….
Rumble… rumble… CRASH!
“What in the world are you doing down there?” my wife yells from upstairs.
She darn well knows what I am doing. She is the one who sent me down to the basement storage room to retrieve a collection of old pots and pans for our grand-daughter who is moving into her first apartment.
Oh, I just spotted the box.
It comes sliding down the slope of miscellaneous household goods that has formed only moments before – and darn near takes out my knee.
Crash… bang…bong, bong, bong…
“What ARE you doing down there?” she repeated.
“Trying to survive,” I mutter.
“What?” she yells.
“Nothing,” I yell back.
“You are like a bull in a china shop.”
No, I am more like a mountain goat gingerly picking his way across a boulder field trying not to set off an avalanche– but I don’t tell her that. It is just one of the many truths that I hide from her.
Believe me, I know the consequences of truth.
She never comes down the basement. The stairs are too steep and rickety for her bad knee, so she doesn’t fully realize how desperate our storage situation is.
And it is a secret I jealously guard.
I made the mistake of confronting her with it once. She had sent me to the basement for a crockpot.
“Which one?” I asked.
“What do you mean, which one?”
“We have seven of them.”
“You always exaggerate,” she said.
In a pique I brought all the crockpots upstairs and laid them out across the kitchen floor. We had nine of them.
“Why do we need so many?” I asked.
“Oh, you never know…” she said wistfully.
So what did she do?
She had me build more shelves in the basement and once she knew we had ample storage….. the goods flowed with an almost biblical vengeance. So now I maintain a careful fictional between having too much stuff and no need for expanded capacity.
But the day of “you never know” has finally arrived and I am removing things from shelves and taking them out of the basement so I have no cause to complain.
At our grand-daughter’s new apartment, we are met by a fleet of pickup trucks from both sides of the family, each heavily laden with hand-me-down household goods.
I bring our offering inside and asked the gaggle of grandmothers, aunts and friends of the family which pile I should stack it on.
They consult and soon reach a consensus.
“Take it downstairs and put it in her storage locker.” I am told.
I find the basement, I locate her locker, open the door and…
Rumble… rumble… CRASH!