Monday, October 18, 2010

The Big Ka-Boom

    The funny thing about science - in this case physics - is that it generally doesn't care about time, place or circumstance.  For instance, if the tree in your back yard stops being able to bear its own weight at 3:00 am, then you are going to wake up with a tree in your back yard in the morning.  It doesn't care that you have to go to work, or that it woke you up, etc.  So, despite the fact that I have not been sleeping well lately due to some lingering sickness and coughing, or that I had just figured out, for that night at least, how to lie so that I didn't almost lose a lung.  Never mind that I was super comfortable and that my brain has been playing tricks on me for a lot of days now and I rarely if ever know what's going on once my head hit the pillow.  Doesn't matter to physics, it doesn't matter to science.  The nail, holding up one side of the foot-long shelf I have over the toilet in the bathroom in my wing of the Worldwide Headquarters was no longer able to hold the shelf up, and what transpired was the loudest but least consequential event I have ever been a part of.
Something like this was falling
through my dreams.

     First of all, it was loud.  Real loud.  It sounded to me, on the edge of sleep, like a million billion empty plastic water jugs - like the clear kind that is made out of a little more rigid plastic with the white spout with red button - falling all over the place in the middle of an empty warehouse.  I woke right up.  One giant bead of terror sweat plopped down next to my pillow.  So I shook out the cobwebs and looked out of the bedroom.
     I installed a shower curtain rod in my hallway at one point, on which I hang my shirts for them to dry.  I fully expected to see this lying in a heap on the hallway floor, freshly hung with wet shirts as it was.  I figured the sound of plastic crashing was all in my head.  But it was still hanging.  And everything was okay in the kitchen.  I almost didn't bother, but at the last minute I stuck my head into the bathroom.
     I laughed for a moment, and then I swore.  Easy enough to fix, but I faced the prospect of cleaning up and throwing away a couple of hundred of prime Q-tips, which are like gold in my house.  I keep them housed in a hard plastic container with a lid, hence the noises.  So I sat down on the edge of the bathtub and started picking up the victims: the Q-tips, mouthwash, lotion, and two - count 'em two - bandages.  Replace the lid on the container.  Pick up the shelf.  Investigate the nail, which had just pulled its way down through the drywall until it lost all holding power, no big deal.
     But it was a big deal.  I hear Ruth, my neighbor, calling my name.  She is asking if I am okay.  At first I thought the was calling through the wall from her bathroom, but then I realized the was outside.  So out of the bathroom I do, turning on lights, finding a shirt.  Poor Ruth, sweet woman that she is, is standing outside in the freezing cold making sure that I am not dead.  She heard the loud falling, then heard me talking to myself (either in my stupor, trying to figure out what was going on, or I was cussing about the Q-tips) and thought that maybe I was trying to get help.  And I probable need help.  But any visions that she had of me lying on the floor with blood seeping from a gaping head wound.  I was glad that she was up and wasn't woken up, and I thanked her repeatedly for checking on me.  Then I finished cleaning up and went to bed.
     Such an unimportant and miniscule event: a shelf falling off the wall.  A shelf that held bathroom products no less, caused to so much commotion.  Woke someone out of a dead sleep.  Brought another person out into the cold night.  Sent fright through multiple people for no good reason.  All for the work of gravity and physics and me not anchoring that nail into a stud.  That is why I said at the beginning that it was such an insignificant event - the shelf will be up by tomorrow - cause all that commotion. "Full of sound an fury, but signifying nothing."  That is a quote out of Shakespeare (don't ask me where) and I think he was applying it to humans in general, but it's a great line and I am pinning it to this event.  Full of sound and fury for sure, but in the end, signifying very little at all.

1 comment:

KingBobb said...

Dear Biggest of Daves,

I must say, that story coming from most people wouldn't be news. Nor particularily interesting. However, the delightful imagery in which you presented it, not to mention the wonderful quote from The Bard, totally made my morning. Or at least the past five minutes or so. Well played, my friend. Well played.