Risky Business

About ten years ago, we removed a phone from the wall by the kitchen, but in typical Pettersen fashion, never got around to taking off the old plate and wires.  Placed beside my flashy new door, the ugliness of it was really starting to bug me. I’d found an electrician for some future work, but I couldn’t live with this another day.


I have a vague idea about the workings of electricity, but who am I kidding? If the apocalypse comes and some of us survive, I will not be on the team that puts things back together. ‘Judy…over here! Get this power plant up and running, stat!’ Nope. ‘Here’s some glass and wire…build a solar panel for the survivors!’  I am simply not that person. I can help in the garden, or teach kids. Cook and tell stories. I’m a fairly decent problem solver, and have a patent to prove it. But knowledge about modern technology has escaped me. I’ve let it slip through my fingers and now, it seems too late for me to even bother googling.

My lack of understanding about phone wires was my current (pardon the pun) problem. Were they dead? Were they attached to that same invisible power source that keeps my fridge running? I couldn’t find the right switch in that thingy cupboard that would turn that section of the house off. I’ve always been cautious, but I decided, to hell with that. Donning a pair of rubber gloves and a pair of scissors with rubber handles, I stepped up to the wall, squeezed my eyes shut, and cut the wires. Nothing happened.

I was thrilled. And disappointed. Part of me hoped that my deceased husband would show up like Robert Pattinson did in the Twilight movie whenever Kristen Stewart did something risky. This part–the understanding of how things work–was his job. Clarence’s, not Roberts. I know that with some couples, it’s reversed. But he was the skipper, I was the less able bodied/minded crew member. Together, we kept our ship afloat.

I had other risky business to manage, like car mats. For a guy with such a messy garage, my hubby really liked a clean car. Now that the spit and polish was left to me, I felt bad about the dirty floor mats. I was leaving town the next day and didn’t want to bother with a car wash, so I hosed and scrubbed them down. I found a bottle of Turtle wax in the miscellaneous cupboard and liberally applied it to the mats. It took hours to dry, which should have been my first warning.

The next day, I climbed into my car and my feet did a kind of Charlie Chaplin dance as I tried to reposition my seat. For the next two hours of driving, I had to be very careful how I moved, or they’d go shooting out from under me and accidentally hit the brake or gas. (I was using cruise control.) It was only when I stopped on the side of the road and covered my shoes with dust that the mat became more manageable.

This is all the fault of my long marriage. When you’ve been together for a certain amount of years, you lean in, like two sides of a pyramid. And when the other person is gone, you still tilt that way, and there’s nothing to stop you from falling over. It takes a while to start standing on your own two feet. In the meantime, I’ve borrowed tall ladders to replace lightbulbs outside the house, and climbed on the roof to wash a bedroom window. But I promise, dear children and friends, to be careful now that Robert…er, Clarence, did not show up. So I’ve hired a guy to fix my hydro mast on the roof, and someone else to put new beams in front of the house. As for the bricks that need cutting for my patio construction, I’m almost certain I know which saw to use, and where to find it. Or I can find instructions on YouTube.
Just kidding. Maybe. We’ll see.

Published by Judith Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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