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 firstname.lastname@example.org.