Sunday, January 17, 2010

Roller Derby

(originally published April 2007)

Standing precariously atop a patio chair, I was covered in grease and pounding on the top of our deck’s sliding screen door with a hammer while yelling several obscenities that cannot be printed here.

Let’s just say I was seriously questioning the door’s parentage and suggesting it take a vacation to a place that gets very, very hot.

And I’m not talking about Tahiti. Somewhere south of Tahiti.

Waaaaay south.

The door no longer glided smoothly along its track and had become difficult to use. It took a mighty heave of the handle to open it wide enough that if I sucked in my breath, said a short prayer and fasted for a week, I could barely squeak through sideways.

Then a strong pull to get it closed would result in losing my grip and whacking a hand into the solid door frame.

If the U.S. government was serious about building a fence along the Mexican border to curb illegal immigration, then they should use what that damn screen door is made of.

Send the Minutemen packing, call Home Depot and order a million of those things. Problem solved.

It got to the point where we didn’t use the door. We were very afraid of what it might do and what limbs we might lose.

Until the day I decided to no longer live in fear. I reached out to open the door, lost my grip on the handle and the #*& thing took the tip of my last fingernail.

And with it, my very last nerve.

“For the love of God!” I yelled and snapped my hand back, my fingers stinging. I shook my hand wildly and jumped around in circles. “I have cleaned the tracks and used an entire can of oil on that thing and it’s still not working!”

My husband, who smiled at my impromptu rain dance, said matter-of-factly, “I bet one of the rollers is broken.”

I stopped mid-dance and asked, “Rollers?”

“Yeah,” he said, “rollers.”

“The thing has rollers?” I asked quietly.

“Sure,” he said. “How did you think it moved along the track?”

“I just thought it slid along the little groove thingy mounted on the top and bottom of the frame,” I answered.

“‘Little groove thingy’?” my husband laughed. “No wonder the door is still busted.”

His quick reflexes saved him from the sofa pillow I launched in his direction. However, to my delight, he failed to dodge the shoe that followed right behind it.

“OK, I’m a moron,” I admitted as he rubbed the spot on his head where the shoe had grazed it. “Check the rollers. OK. I can do that. How hard could that be?”

An hour later, I was on the deck and the screen door was off the frame and lying atop the table. I struggled to hold onto the screen as the strong March winds tried desperately to rip it from my hands.

I looked closely and immediately noticed that one of the rollers was indeed broken.

I’d never hear the end of it from Mr. Smarty Pants.

Armed with a long screwdriver, I bent over the door to carefully pry out the roller, to preserve the broken piece so I could take it with me to the hardware store. I smiled, knowing Bob Vila would be proud.

And it was during that tiny lapse in concentration that the roller popped out like a champagne cork and shot 10 feet into the air.

The small plastic wheel arched to the left and the tiny metal rod that had held it to the frame blasted to the right.

And both landed off the deck, smack in the middle of a large bed of plants.

Uh, oh, I thought, that can’t be good.

I’d like to say I spent hours searching for the pieces, but I really gave up after only 10 minutes.

OK, five minutes.

Alright, God’s honest truth, I just looked over the deck railing and said, “You gotta be kidding me” and immediately headed for the hardware store and bought a replacement roller.

Which, of course, didn’t fit.

And that’s where we come back to me standing on a chair, pounding at the door’s aluminum edge with a hammer, trying to get it to fit back into the frame.

Maybe I’ll just move to Mexico.

That is, if I can get past the fence.

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