Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Garage - Track

Sept. 29, 2003 - 7:39 a.m.

Every now and then I'm gonna steal one of my entries from various forums I post to. It's cheap and doesn't require much effort. Show me two other qualities that ring truer to most Americans. Toss my genetic propensity towards catatonic laziness into the mix, and it's a lock. So here's the first one. It's long, too, so I feel like I've done something impressive. Pat my head.

(If you're visiting from one of those forums, you're not required to read this entry. You'll still be tested on the others, however. Move along.)

Well well well. Our well broke.

I live at the top of a mountain in rural New Jersey (no, "rural New Jersey" is NOT an oxymoron). They don't have a municipal water supply this far into the boonies, so we all have well water. When I first heard that our property came with a well, I was envisioning one of those cartoon wells with the bucket you lower with a rope and handle. I could see NewWifey(tm) out there in her bonnet and gingham dress, barefoot, going out every sunrise to bring in the water for coffee and laundry. It would be just as I imagined married life SHOULD be.

But no, this was some sort of modern contraption that you couldn't even throw stones or small children down (believe me, I tried). It was a narrow pipe capped by a cast iron lid firmly bolted on. No fun at all.

For the most part, living with a well is unremarkable. Barring a serious drought it's like any other water supply. You turn on your faucet, and voila: wet stuff.

Well, the well decided to throw a little excitement into our lives last week.

It was about 6:30pm, and as usual I was blind drunk and ready for bed. For some reason I decided to brush my teeth, so I staggered into the bathroom, fumbled for the toothpaste, then squeezed about a foot long rope of it onto my foot. I took my shoe off and smeared it onto the bristles. After swallowing half, I spit the rest out and tried to rinse clean with a glass of crisp, refreshing water. I turned the spigot.


I was drunk, and I *knew* I was drunk. So I figured I was probably turning the knob to the thermostat again by mistake. I called NewWifey(tm) to come help me.

NewWifey(tm) must have anticipated from my condition that I would have some troubles, and unnoticed by me had followed me to the can.

When I turned towards the door and bellowed "WIFEY!! HELPPP!!!" she was only two inches away, leaning on the doorway with her arms folded, watching the whole thing. I splattered her with a frothy mixture of toothpaste and gin.

She sighed. "What now...honey."

I gestured towards what I hoped was the cold water tap and mumbled through the goop in my mouth, "Water..where? mmm...I love you Snookums...grgmmph..."

NewWifey(tm) pushed me aside and turned on the faucet.


Now it was serious. If SHE couldn't get the water flowing, then something really WAS wrong. I swallowed the rest of the toothpaste and rinsed out with beer. It was Corona, which is really just water dyed yellow anyway.

It turns out the breaker had tripped, which seemed like an easy enough fix. So I told her to fix it. I know better than to mess around in a box full of live wires, even when I'm not sloshed.

So down the stairs she trudged and waded through the pile of laundry I swear I'd meant to do all last month, until she reached the breaker box. She flipped the switch.


The switch flipped itself back off. Once. Twice. Three times she tried that sucker, and all three times it stubbornly refused to park in the "On" position. I could hear her cursing like a sailor being kicked out of a brothel in Shanghai. I tried to be helpful.

"Why don't you use Crazy Glue? That stuff held up that midget by his hardhat in the commercials, remember? And that was a pretty fat midget! I bet that switch doesn't weigh nearly...."

I stopped because NewWifey(tm) was glaring at me from the bottom of the stairs. Her eyes were glowing red embers - they matched her hair. I almost told her so, but something cut through my alcoholic fog and shut me up, saving my life.

It turns out that the water stopped flowing, and the switch wouldn't stay switched, because the well pump broke. Or as NewWifey(tm) put it, "GODDAM IT - THE FUCKIN' WELL PUMP SHIT THE BED!!!!"

She was right.

At first the enormity of the situation escaped me. I had enough beer after all, so at least I wouldn't go thirsty. Hell, I had enough that I could bathe if I wanted to. But NewWifey(tm) saw things a little differently. We'd *eventually* run out of beer after a year or so, she pointed out, and the troopers who pull me over like clockwork every night might get the wrong impression if every pore on my body was exuding 15 proof Bud. They might not believe I wasn't drinking it, but just showering with it. She had a point.

We got started the next morning looking for a plumber who would be willing to cut short his summer vacation in order to replace a well pump while a beligerant Italian drunkard bellowed advice over his shoulder. I'm sure you can image how much luck we had. For some reason we've been in a "Do Not Accept Calls" file county-wide ever since I "accidentally" locked the Meter Reader lady in our root cellar...somehow. Finally one of these blue collar geniuses agreed to come out, but only after we signed a waiver saying we wouldn't press charges if he "accidentally" maimed or killed me. NewWifey(tm) grabbed the pen and signed with a little too much enthusiasm, if you ask me. But at least the well would be fixed.

And the well WAS fixed, amazingly enough. Only cost us the price of my first three cars combined, too. Oh well, who needs...uh, anything. Not us hopefully, since we now won't be able to afford it until sometime after the next appearance of Haley's Comet.

One thing I haven't had since I was a toddler is a pool. I really want one, too, although NewWifey(tm) says I stand a good chance of being harpooned if anyone sees me floating in ANY body of water. But I like pools. So imagine my delight when I turned on the faucet that night and the entire house smelled like it was now submerged 15 feet into an Olympic Diving pool! Actually, it smelled almost like we dove into a 5 million gallon pool of Clorox, with a little water mixed in. I called the plumber guy. "Oh yeah" he mentioned almost casually, "I had to dump a shitload of chlorine tablets into your well. Do you know your pump was down 500 feet, and the well goes down even farther? That much pipe needs to be disinfected, so I used all the chlorine I had. It'll probably smell like that for a week or so. Don't use it for cooking, drinking, water for pets, or laundry. Anything else is fine. Oh, and don't water your plants with it." And he hung up.

It was just like having a broken well pump. What COULD we use the water for? Apparently we could shower, which was a relief to NewWifey(tm) anyway. However, we smelled like we'd just finished swimming the English Channel after a 15 minute dousing.

Most importantly for me: NO COOKING WATER! AAAAUUUGHHH!

Not just no water for cooking, but even for scrubbing the pots and pans. What was I gonna have NewWifey(tm) use??

Well, I'd let *her* worry about that one. As long as she got it done, she didn't have to tell me how.

But damn, I use water in a lot of dishes. Pasta and rice, of course, but also for making stocks, sauces, steaming veggies and fish, etc. Time to get creative....

Thank god for beer.

Back before she went insane and tried to make us all healthy, my mom would sometimes make "Beef Cooked in Beer". She said it was a Hungarian recipe, but she lied to us about so many things I have no idea if that's true or not. The important thing is, she made it. And it was pretty good. I decided to give it a try myself. And it was pretty good. So I thought I'd pass it along to you, just in case your well ever goes "kaput!" and you're left with nothing in the house but 400 cases of beer and a hungry, angry spouse. Here:

*** Mom's Pre-Lunacy Beef Cooked in Beer ***

pre-heat your oven to 225 degrees. This is gonna slow braise.

1. Brown the outside of a roast in a large Dutch Oven, in plenty of good olive oil over med-high heat.

1a. Wait! Wait!! You don't HAVE to use olive oil. In fact, my mom (a notorious cheapskate) used regular old vegetable oil, or sometimes 10-40 motor oil if she knew it was just us kids eating.

2. After you've browned all sides of the roast (including the ends), remove it to a plate. Lower the heat a little and add a chopped onion, carrot and celery stick. Toss in a bay leaf and some thyme, and a little salt.

3. Add the roast back in, then pop open a beer and pour that in also. Make it a good beer this time, willya?

4. Cover the Dutch Oven and go catch a movie. Make it two movies. After about two hours, toss some peeled new potatoes into the pot, then let it cook another hour or two longer.

5. When it's done, remove the beef and potatoes from the pot and cover with aluminum foil. Let the meat rest at least 15 minutes. Thicken the liquid in the pot with either a roux or a cornstarch slurry.

6. Finish the gravy with a scrape of nutmeg and a shot of ground red pepper, adjust for salt and pepper, add whatever juices have accumulated under the roast, and toss in a handfull of chopped flat leaf parsley.

Then just slice up the meat, arrange it on the platter with the potatoes around it, and pour the gravy over.

And obviously: Don't drink water with this meal! That's why god gave us beer - it's truly Nature's Emergency Water.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to see how well Sam Adams works with Tide Laundry Detergent on those annoying blood stains.....

(This gives me occassion to segue into my new Fave Joke of the Week:

What's the hardest part about being a pedophile? -Getting the blood out ot the clown suit.)


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