Sunday, November 25, 2007

Way off baseboard

As the furnace man packed up to leave yesterday after a routine maintenance appointment, I asked him if there was anything he might be able to do about the baseboards clanking in our bedroom. Since the weather turned cold, my wife Kara and I have been trying to sleep in the acoustic equivalent of a steel mill.

“Oh, that’s just thermal expansion,” he said, shrugging. It was the same way a doctor might say, “Oh, that’s just a little cold,” indicating that you’ll be doing without the fistful of antibiotics you’d been hoping for.

I guess thermal expansion is just something you have to learn to live with, like bunions and neoconservatives. Kara and I are both light sleepers, by virtue of the fact that she is a light sleeper and an adept shin kicker. The clanking of the baseboards never fails to wake her, reflexively launching her heat-seeking foot in my direction and ending my recurring dream of being an apprentice blacksmith. If we keep going on like this, it could be ages before I get my own anvil.

I guess if we had to look at the bright side, you never know when baseboards are going to start making a racket in the middle of the night, which probably makes them excellent training for having kids.

We spent sixty bucks on a sound machine at Brookstone, the store in the mall where currency is converted into vibrating chairs, tiny useless sandboxes and CD-playing golf bags. The box said that the machine was designed for infants by a real live doctor with a stethoscope and everything. Of all the sounds it made, Kara’s favorite was the one that simulated riding in a car. That sealed the deal for us. Automobile engines are like Valium to her. I haven’t taken a road trip with a conscious passenger in four years.

Now when we go to sleep, it sounds like we’re driving through a steel mill. My dreams usually involve swerving to avoid falling girders. It’s all very relaxing.

Of course, none of this will matter over the Thanksgiving holiday, as we’ll be taking our show on the road, spending time with family, reaching new heights of gluttony and contributing to the whole affair with the best thing we know how to cook, which is a bottle of wine.

It’s important to pick the right wine for a large family gathering. Oenophiles (which are people who like wine, not people who shouldn’t be left alone with your oens) already know that there are two basic kinds of wine: bottled and boxed. Sure, bottles are classier and don’t require Dixie cups since you can drink directly out of the container, but a lot of people don’t realize that once a box of wine is about halfway kicked, you can rip it open and drink directly from the foil pouch inside like it’s a giant Capri Sun.

Nobody even drank wine until the movie ‘Sideways” came out a few years ago. It’s pretty silly that the movie had any influence at all, considering that it romantically paired Paul Giamatti with Virginia Madsen. In the real world, you’d be more likely to see a hobbit fleeing a horde of Uruk-hai through Bed, Bath and Beyond than a pairing with a point spread like that.

For this Thanksgiving, one in which we’re fortunate enough to have both of our families getting together, we’ll probably bring a bottle of Cabernet, though we’re not fancy enough to know the proper way to swish it around and declare that is has a nutty bouquet with a floral, almost bodacious finish. Besides, we know my parents like that kind, since they’re the ones who gave us the bottle in the first place.

You can help Mike Todd get the cranberry sauce out of the can at


  1. That is to funny, we had that problem when we got the new fridge with the loud ice maker, and it sits with it's back next to our bedroom wall. hehehehe Scared the shit out of me for a while there.

  2. I'm trying to think of noises in my house that drive me bonkers.... but there are too many to count and I'm already bonkers so......

    I'm glad you had a good holiday and I hope you drank lots of wine. I'm going to try that giant Capri Sun thing at the campground this summer. I'll be all the rage.

  3. Burf -- My sister once called the old man next door to come over and see who was upstairs in our house. It was the icemaker. You must have the same model.

    Sheri -- Thanks, and I did! Hope you did, too. And you're already all the rage. The Capri Sun thing couldn't hurt, though.

  4. I've never had a box of wine, but I bet the capri sun thing would have been quite popular at my daughter's birthday party at WVU. The "somebody hold me upside down while I drink from the keg till puke spews from my nose" thing was a big hit....

    Mike, you never fail to make me laugh. This is why I want you for my little brother. Well, the laughing and the having someone to plunk on the ear.

  5. melodyann -- Really? Never had boxed wine? That makes you the most high-falutin' person I know. My real big sister is falling behind on her ear-plunking duties, so that works. She has the wedgies covered, though.

  6. nah, i'm not high-falutin'. I drank plenty of boones farm tickle pink.

    How your real big sister doing in the "When Mike was a boy, he used to..." story telling department? Cause I can always make up some good ones.

    Besides, a boy can't have too many big sisters, can he?

  7. What's that? I couldn't hear you through your bottle of Boones Fancypants. Ha! I think the dude from Punch Drunk Love had too many big sisters, but he was crazy and trapped in an artsy farts flick.