Friday, December 4 2020

the beep and the box fort

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Friday, and welcome to the end of the week. The house is restless today. Every ten minutes from somewhere upstairs, a shrill electronic beep pierces the morning quiet. Beep. It sounds like dying robot. It sounds like somebody plugged a bar code scanner into a guitar amp and pulled the trigger. Beep.

Rodney is awake. The beeping has caused him to give up on sleeping in, instead inspiring him to move furniture around his room in frustration. Miles is also awake, boisterously squelching in his crib. The dogs are nervous. They're curled up in their usual spots, but every ten minutes at the mercy of the cruel, incessant sound, their eyes shoot open to scan the room. Beep.

Annoying on one hand, but also kind of amusing watching such a small nuisance have a ripple effect on this quiet Friday morning in the homestead. In the tail end of my time-boxed morning routine, I only had a few minutes to investigate the noise. Top suspect is the backup battery in our carbon monoxide detector. I plucked it out of the wall socket to investigate. The tiny LED screen was empty except for a dot, like a dangling period - how helpful! I resisted the urge to open a window and fling the device out onto our driveway - mostly because deep down I knew that after watching the device explode on the pavement, I would probably hear the chirp again from somewhere else in the house. Beep.

How exciting. We have a real mystery to solve on this Friday morning. We can be like Scooby and the gang trying to unmask the sinister beep that kept us all from sleeping in this morning.

Sip. Have you read the manual for your carbon monoxide detector? When was the last time you replaced its back up batteries? And how was your Thursday?

Coming down stairs for coffee yesterday, I found Marissa at the dining room table rubbing her eyes. Rodney busily milled around, circling her like he was mingling at a party for one.

"Good morning, dada," he said with a polite wave. "Do... you want to make a Paw Patrol rescue today? We have to help Rubble and Skye."

"Oh wow, dude," I said. "That sounds like a lot of fun, but I just came down stairs to get coffee. Maybe later."

"Maybe later we can do a Paw Patrol rescue together," said Rodney, his voice trailing off as he wandered into the living room."

Marissa picked her head up out of her hands. "He's funny today," she said. "He's really nice, but also really annoying."

Rodney craned his head back into the dining room. "We'll do a Paw Patrol rescue later," he said, like a hovering office coworker that doesn't know when to cut the small talk short. He continued the conversation to himself from around the corner.

"Yeah," I commented quietly. "Just like... imperceptibly annoying."

"He's just really bored," said Marissa. "I think I might have to pull out the big guns today. Remember that box fort Gigi got us?"

"I don't think I remember that one," I said.

"Well I stashed it in the basement," smiled Marissa. "He doesn't know about it."

By the time I came down stairs for another coffee break, the giant circular box fort was set up in the play room. The cardboard walls shook while Rodney scurried inside. Two flaps in the shape of a window flung open, and Rodney stuck his head out grinning.

"Look at my NEW HOUSE," he yelled.

"Dude, this is awesome," I said, coming up to it to get a closer look. The box fort had a high arching ceiling, a pair of doors and windows, and it came with a box of paint sticks. Rodney had already colored some of the pattern on the side. Marissa opened the cardboard back door and slipped inside.

"It's kind of cozy in here. Why don't you get momma a blanket, Rod," she said.

"That could be a nice place to take a nap," I laughed.

Rodney gave me the official grand tour. He pointed to the door, which was printed with an imaginary sign that read "Clubhouse members only."

"This says come on inside WHENEVER you want," said Rodney, pretending to read the print.

2020 12 04 clubhouse members only

WHENEVER you want.

Opening the cardboard door, I flopped onto the living room floor and began to carefully shimmy into the box fort. Like a spelunker, I had to turn onto my side so my shoulders would fit. To get my legs in, I had to roll to my knees, lifting the whole box fort with my head in the process.

"When dada is in this thing, it feels like a rocket ship blasting off," Marissa laughed.

FIVE. FOUR. THREE. TWO. ONE. Making rocket ship noises with my mouth, I slowly rose to my feet, lifting the entire fort high into the air. Rodney promptly scolded me and I returned to my seat.

"So fair warning," said Marissa. "It gets really hot in here. We'll probably have to get out in ten minutes or so."

"Yeah dude," I laughed. "You got some serious ventilation issues in this new house of yours. But it's probably fixable - every house is a work in progress."

Later that evening, we would field a Zoom call with Mimi and Papa from inside our house.

"What do you think of our new house, Mimi?" I asked into the phone. The phone camera was getting foggy from our breath.

Using Rodney's stuff dog Corgi as a puppet, I bursted through the window. HEEEEERE'S CORGI, I growled in my best Jack Nicholson voice. Rodney thought it was the funniest thing in the world, and we'd hear the same joke about 500 more times.

Box forts are the best, aren't they? And so are Friday's. Here's to making it to the end of the week, and thanks for stopping by.

2020 12 04 clubhouse girls