Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters

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Object lesson.

There are times in life when events conspire against you to such a degree that you can only sit back and laugh. Or if not laugh then at least chuckle grimly and look around for a good bottle of scotch.

Those of you who have been reading this journal carefully (and seriously, you ought to have something better to do with your time) know about my ongoing saga with my mother's boyfriend's family and their delightful combination of being pretty weird and encroaching in my space. Tonight the fraternal twin future stepsisters were due in from Boston, and I was asked to let them in to the apartment so they'd have somewhere to stay before their father whisks them away to what was once my country home. This task seemed simple enough, and I decided to simplify it even further in the future by giving them both sets of keys so I don't have to emerge from my lair at all while they're around, except to get a drink of water and ring the bells at vespers.

I decided when I handed them the keys to point out a lovely feature of our door, which is that if it is shut too hard it sticks. I wanted them not to stick the door, think the keys were not working, and thus be unable to enter as they pleased and be forced to bother/wake me to let them in at some indeterminate point in the future. I will confess that I also wanted to show my ornery nature by slamming the door roughly and then wrenching it open, an unspoken warning of sorts.

They arrived at about midnight, I let them in, handed them their keys, told them about the door, and executed my demonstration. Unfortunately for me in my desire to maximize my orneriness I slammed a little too hard, and ended up with a door that was more than just a little bit stuck. It was wedged in there so tightly that I could tell as soon as I pulled at it that it wasn't coming out without some Herculean effort. I played it off as something that happened from time to time and they went further in to the apartment to do whatever that sort of person does. I was stuck out there with the door, realizing that I had just become the creepy stepbrother who locked them in the apartment with him by slamming the door irrevocably shut. This was not the message I'd intended to send.

The next 45 minutes were a nice humbling experience. It is surprisingly hard to keep up the charade that nothing unusual is going on when you keep plodding back to the tool chest to get a new hammer, screwdriver, or x-acto knife. It is even more difficult when you keep emitting hammering and grunting sounds as you try just about everything in the book to loosen the door jamb's death grip on the door itself (I was not about to give up for a bunch of reasons. A) If I actually got the door released then I would appear congenially incompetent rather than creepy. This is not exactly the image I want to project, but it is an upgrade, and surprisingly accurate. B) I did not want to give their father the satisfaction of kicking in the door for me, since we are in the midst of a low-grade feud. C) Being in an apartment with the only exit jammed is a definite fire-hazard, and though the chances of a blaze occurring are fairly remote I know I couldn't sleep with the Damoclesian sword of a terrible burning death hanging over my head.)

I ended up trying about half a dozen technique. First there was the 'yank until the muscles in your wrists responsible for tightening your grip start to ache terribly' method. Next there was the 'attempt to take the door off its hinges only to realize that they've been painted over so many times there's no way you're taking them off in this life' method. Third I went with the "Attempt to squirt soap into the doorway to reduce the friction but succeed only in getting it all over your shirt method.' Fourth there was the 'Loosen the door jamb by prying it with a screwdriver and breaking off paint chips all over the place' method. Fifth there was the 'pry the door with one hand and pull with the other, accomplishing neither task with anything approaching 50% of the force you could use on just one' method, a personal favorite for ineptitude. Finally I used the 'Slam your shoulder into the door over and over until you start to break down the jamb, then get a little momentum by slamming it out and yanking it back' method, which made a nice "BANG, DING" sound as I slammed the door so hard that the doorbell went off inside of it. This method (with, I think, an assist from extensive screwdriver prying) finally ended up working.

At this point I was sweating pretty well, at least around the collar, and my hands were covered in dust and grease, but damn it I had proved the heterosexual male's first maxim (Any problem can be solved with a sufficiently judicious use of physical force.) I went in to inform them of this triumph, and that they were no longer trapped in the apartment with their creepy future step-brother, only to find them watching TV in bed together. This is a very small bed, and they were both under the covers. Feeling immediately like I had stumbled off of the pages of "Incompetent Mechanic and Carpenter" and into a particularly disturbing issue of "Penthouse Forum" (Dear Penthouse, I never thought it could happen to me. I was all hot and sweaty from fixing the jammed door in my apartment when I went into the kitchen for a drink, and what should I see in the other room but my twin 18 year old stepsisters in bed with one another. They were giggling. Stripping my sweat-soaked wife beater from my sculpted chest...) I murmured something about "Let this be a lesson to you about slamming that door" in a half-serious tone, and beat a hasty retreat back to my room where I put on some Megadeth and wrote up this entry, wrists still aching.

What can we learn from this experience?

A) Avoiding the stepsisters is the right move. We don't really want to know what's going on there. Probably nothing at all, but we still don't want to know.

B) When something (one?) doesn't do what you want it to, hit it until it does.

C) While in literature it is almost always better to show than to tell, sometimes in real life it is unnecessary. There is no need to actually slam the door in order to prove that slamming the door can sometimes make it stick. This is also true of explaining the dangers of base jumping without a parachute or cleaning firearms without making absolutely sure they are empty of ammunition.

On the plus side there is absolutely no need for me to bother trying to appear 'cool' or 'hip' in front of these stepsisters ever again. I think that shipped sailed with the whole slamming my shoulder into a door for ten minutes straight thing. In addition to the whole, you know, being me thing.

On the super plus side, I'm pretty sure my therapist can now pencil me in to the year 2019. I won't be cured by then or anything, but I'm pretty sure that he's going to stop seeing patients, at least in New York, after he packs up his house and moves down to Florida.
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