I am mechanically challenged. My verbal cortex is thick with extra neurons but the piece of brain that commands gadgets and buttons is missing. For the tactual ineptitude, I really don’t belong behind the wheel. It’s a good thing we share words, not car lanes because I’m the driver you’ll give the finger, a human road hazard – even when I’m just trying to get on the road.
One unforgettable day, I jumped into the minivan and pulled out of the garage with Tennyson in the backseat. !@#%^! I heard. Strange. What in the world was that noise?
Ohhh shoot. My gut dropped.
I thought I’d opened the garage door all the way. I had left it partly open earlier that day and, seeing the house across us in the rearview before taking off, forgot the upper part of the door was still down, hanging. In dread I stumbled out to appraise the situation. Of course the rear of the Sienna had dented and cracked into the door. This did not look good. “Sorry, Sweetie. We’re not picking up our friends. We’re not going anywhere.” Our plans, the whole day, had turned the tide in the bat of an eye.
For some dumbfounding reason, and dumb is the word, I went ahead to try to lower the door back down. I pulled the car forward again, to the most foreboding sound of wood groaning and snapping. It was when I hit that remote on the wall to slide the door to the ground that I compounded the damage beyond words. Down indeed it came.
The whole door just started coming undone, metal crushing, wood bursting. You know when comedy actors on TV hunch over, palms shielding face, blinking in starts while jerking to the staccato of something big falling apart? The audience laughs at the destruction of their property or whatever catastrophe it is that’s befallen. Well, this was no sitcom and it was no act when I rattled in just that way. As I whacked away frantically at the remote, trying to freeze the door, I cringed at the cry of its umbrage. All our innocent threshold keeper had wanted was to be left alone until the man of the house who is so good with his hands came to its rescue. The four sectionals violently unglued, and collapsed. The servant that had served us faithfully looked nothing like it did in its untouched working order. It didn’t expire from natural causes. It was murdered.
I’d really done it this time. My friend’s daughter, then 16, came to play with Tennyson while I went on the hunt for garage door repair companies. I was so flustered she grabbed my hands and prayed it would all work out affordably.
Our next door neighbor dropped by, asked if I was okay. I am not sure if he was impressed or stunned by the debacle. From the sight of it all, he worried something terrible had happened and that I was hurt. He and Peter (and everyone else who beheld my workmanship) did not see how it would be redeemable. We needed a new door. We were looking at $1000.
No one was more upset than, you got it, Husband. He labored for hours into the cold night trying to do something. Another neighbor offered to send his dog over for a sleepover in the garage, to guard against night intruders, as we were left without security. Late that night Husband shared a miracle he’d discovered in the tussle with wreckage. The skill of leveling out metal that he had been honing in the process of building steel drums (musical instruments) turned out to be what he needed to restore enough of the door to keep us safe that night. Practice with the golden hammer had familiarized him on how metal behaves and needs to be struck, so that he was able to smooth out the panels that had separated and go on to piece most of them back. With a friend’s help the next day, he not only refaced the door cosmetically but got it working tenuously before a professional repairman sealed the job after the weekend. The view from the street was a most unassuming one. Our door was resurrected.
Among some women who were over Friday night, the pastor’s wife quipped that God had been preparing my husband all year to deal with this. A mom walked in breathless: “I saw the picture!” Was I all right? The mister had Facebooked it. Not to air frustration, as I thought, but poor dear man, to fish for a good local repair service.
Wanting to show you my handiwork from that heart-stopping day, I asked him if he could dredge up the photo of the wrecked door he’d posted. He answered, “Why? Did you run through it again?” It’s a simple reflex equation for him. The association of wife and anything garage equals trouble.
So this retelling is as much about my hero who goes around the house fixing everything I break, as it is about my finesse in destroying things that function perfectly well. But you’ll recognize a subterranean message meant to comfort you. This is by far one of the stupidest things I’ve pulled off, that anyone ever has. And there have been needed moments since, in the exasperated impatience at my boy over the inconvenience of his mishaps, the Door would resurface in memory to silence me. My husband did not raise his voice that day. He ate a lot of stress, caught a cold from the sharp autumn night the defenseless garage had ushered in, lost good time and money. And continues to give me grace. I sound my grateful acknowledgment on the highways of cyberspace: Honey, your expensive wife loves you.