Creators Syndicate - The worst words any person can hear in marriage (other than, of course, "Hey, honey, what's the FedEx guy doing upstairs?") are usually delivered in a singsong kind of voice and always, always precede some sort of bad news. Those four words are: "Don't be mad, but…"
Over the years, my wife has said these words to me many, many times. They are usually followed by something trivial like, "I got a new pair of shoes today!" Sometimes it's a little more serious: "I drank the last beer in the fridge!" Once in a while, it's something like, "You should go look at the car!"
This past Saturday morning, my wife called me down to the basement laundry room to look at the dryer. Our dryer is the last thing in our house that hasn't been replaced during the 15 years we've lived here. Everything else, from the furnace to the water heater to the washing machine, has been swapped out, one piece at a time. The dryer was old when we bought our house, but we've never felt much like shelling out hundreds of dollars for such a mundane purchase. It's been fixed so many times that I've memorized the repairman's number.
My wife was standing over the rusty old unit, which was dead as a doornail. She had tried pressing all the buttons she could find and had slammed the door open and closed five times. She'd even kicked the side once or twice, but it remained unresponsive.
I asked her to step aside so I could look at it from a man's perspective. I pressed all the buttons I could and slammed the door. Then I kicked it hard enough to dent the front panel. Nothing.
It was, I told my wife, finally time to get a new dryer. We had eight loads of laundry piled up, and unless the kids wanted to go to school Monday smelling like hobos, we had to act fast.
We drove to the local megastore, where we (meaning I) decided to purchase a huge, expensive industrial-sized unit, one that could handle three loads at once. The salesman warned me that it might not fit, so I ought to go home and measure.
I went home and got out my tape measure. The only way you can get into our basement is through a cramped powder room, taking a sharp left, and then down some narrow wooden stairs. The new dryer was 27.5 inches deep. The door down to the basement was 27.6 inches wide. I calculated that if we all worked together, we could lift the dryer up over the sink, twist it inside the powder room and lower it down the steps, all with a sixteenth of an inch to spare.
I ran back to the store, paid for the dryer and wedged it into the back of our station wagon. Then my wife, our 13-year-old son and our twin 11-year-old daughters all took a corner and we carried it through the house.
When we got to the powder room, I found that while the door to the basement was, indeed, 27.6 inches wide, the door to the powder room was just 26.7 inches. I dragged out my hammer and crowbar.
Half an hour later, I'd removed the molding, two doors and the skin on my left thumb, but I'd widened the doorway a whole inch. Working together, we lifted the dryer up over the sink, made the turn and, grunting and cursing, forced the dryer through the opening, metal screeching against the door frame.
In the basement, I sent everybody back upstairs, hooked up the power cord, attached the vent and pressed the power button. Nothing. I opened and closed the door five times. Dead as a doornail. I gave it a kick. Then another.
That's when I realized that the clock radio next to the dryer was also off. I walked over to the fuse box, found the offending breaker and reset it. The new dryer started tumbling away.
I stood in the basement staring for a few minutes at our old dryer, trying to remember why, exactly, I hadn't bothered to check for a blown fuse before rushing out to the megastore and spending my kids' birthday money.
Then I slowly trudged upstairs to the kitchen, where my wife was making dinner, and prepared to say those four worst words.
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