The best thing about being a homeowner is the exercise you get throwing
fistfuls of money at repairs.
Much like humans, the moment a house is
created it starts to fall apart; slowly at first, and then later as if
falling apart is the one thing in which it takes joy.
My house is
in its 80's, and if falling apart were a sport, it would be in the
Last year we endured the sewer line under the house
cracking up as spectacularly as that "agony of defeat" skier they used
to show on "Wide World of Sports," except exponentially stinkier.
the basement door has rotted out, which is the nature of wooden things
which sit outside for 40 years. That's just science.
The door sits
parallel to the ground, because I guess the previous owner who built it
said to himself, "Now, how can I catch what little rain we get in
Southern Cal on a horizontal surface, to make sure none of it runs off?"
Like my confidence in government, my confidence in the water-repelling
qualities of latex paint has eroded as I have aged.
The door is
made of plywood and heavy 2x4's, and lifting it off the ground has
always required the emitting of grunts you generally only hear from
Eastern Bloc Olympic weightlifters. The ladies, I mean.
researched hardy, lightweight polyethylene plastic doors and aluminum
doors, but the day I spend a thousand bucks on a door for a part of the
house I don't even use is the day you will see me strip naked, strap
bacon to myself and run through a Doberman rescue.
What I mean is: you will not see that.
I bought some fresh plywood and some 2x3's, to rebuild it lighter, got
some leftover house paint, and saved myself about $950. I have
considered, for many years, building a pulley and counter-weight system
which would make raising the door easy, but I have put it off because it
would require research and effort, two things I find easier to
procrastinate than any two other things you could name.
the basement is secured against skunks (long story), I can almost hear
the house pondering plans for its next calamity. The roof? The plumbing?
An old house is a leaky rowboat. You never quite stop bailing, but it's
worth it. After all, you cannot put a price on charm, especially after
you have spent so much time redefining it.
I have been waiting 17 years to say this: get me to an IN-N-OUT! I have
been underground sucking on tree roots my whole life. Who's got a car?
Wait, let me introduce myself. I am a cicada. I am
part of that "brood" which is emerging from underground in North Carolina this month, and I have only a week to live, so make it a
George has graciously allowed me to write his column this week. I am sure you have questions. Let me hit the highlights.
I hatched from an egg in a tree in 1996, dropped to the ground,
burrowed in and lived off tree-root juice for the last 17 years.
Yes, that did pretty much suck.
No, I do not have a stinger and no, I do not eat your crops.
Yes, I do have red bulbous eyes which will haunt your dreams tonight.
Yes, I do have a good sense of humor for someone so short-lived.
No, I cannot play "Popcorn" on my abdominal tymbals.
Yes, spittle bugs and jumping plant lice are my cousins.
Yes, technically, I could still marry them.
Yes, since there are often a million of us cicadas per acre after we hatch, privacy during mating is not an expectation.
No, I am not an exhibitionist, just a realist.
Yes, when I emerge from the ground I am called a "nymph." We all are. Go ahead. Make a crack.
we only live about a month after emerging, just long enough to make a
lot of noise, mate and then kick off. Kinda like humans.
Yes, I have a favorite cicada joke: "Cicada, cicahda, tomata, tomahta, let's call the whole...oops, I'm dead already."
Yes, that is a little dark.
male cicadas make the most noise by far, and it's all mating calls.
That wall of sound you hear is the cicada equivalent of a football
stadium of guys all shouting "Hey, baby, hey, baby, hey, baby" at the
top of their voices. It can be more than 100 decibels, louder than a
jackhammer and, frankly, 10 times as sexy.
How do millions of us know to emerge at the same time after 17 years? We text.
I've got about a week to live still. I've been to the French Quarter,
Vegas, the Grand Canyon. Excuse me, I'm getting that burger now.
Hey...bucket list, you know?