A Quiet, Romantic Night Alone…With The Gas Company

Yesterday was my wife’s birthday (you may all sing after you read this, OK?).  Our original plan was to go out to dinner, and then go to a bar where her friend (who she grew up with, hasn’t seen in 20 years,  and recently got in touch with via Facebook) and her husband would be watching his brother’s band.  OK, recovering alcoholic in a bar is not necessarily a good thing, but I’ve done it before in restaurants or hotel bars or small pubs where there aren’t a lot of people and I can just sip an O’Doul’s or whatever non-alcoholic beer they have in peace.  Keep this in mind as we go forward…

Another part of the grand master plan was to have my youngest daughter stay with her aunt and Grandparents at their house, roughly 50 miles from our place.  My wife would leave early, drop my daughter off and stay for breakfast, and come back home, beating the rush hour by a few hours.  My oldest daughter was supposed to stay over her friends’ house for a sleepover with a few other girls.  Seems good on the surface, right?  I mean, my wife and I RARELY get out alone so this was going to be a very cool thing.  And as Robert Burns once said about mice and men, the grand master plan began to unravel.  My sister-in-law forgot she was committed to being the class mom for a trip, which meant she wouldn’t be home until 3PM.  That now meant my mother and father-in-law would watch my daughter for a bit until my sister-in-law got home (they live next door to each other).  Then my oldest daughter’s friend canceled their plans; so I just said, to hell with it.  I thought it might be nice if we all just went out for dinner, and we meet up with my wife’s friend and her hubby out for dinner a couple of weeks down the road.  Makes sense, right?

I was outvoted.  My oldest decided she wanted to go along with her sister, and my wife wanted to continue with our original plans.  We had told my mother in law an hour prior that we were reviewing our plans, and we’d get back to her.  Well, it seems like she took that as an opening in her vast social calendar and decided to fill it without hearing back from us; so by the time the morning rolled around for the start of a 4 day weekend, it was just my father-in-law solo who would be minding my two girls.  Look, he’s a great guy but he has a heart condition and the last thing he needs is to deal with my two kids running around without any assistance.  That now meant my wife had to stay until 3PM and would drive home in rush hour traffic.  I was not pleased.  When days start to go like this, you just know the fuse has been lit on the powder keg; well, strike up the match folks, because here comes the fuse…

I kissed my wife and daughters goodbye, and started to look for just exactly where this bar is in Belmar.  All I was doing was looking for a map, when I came across the fact that it had a website.  Oh, brother.  Bars only have a website if they are old and respectable establishments (the kind I am comfortable in), or loud caverns full of drunken revelers.  Click…cue up the thumping music from the speakers on my Mac and the scantily clad dancers at the top of the screen.  This place has “Danger, Will Robinson” written all over it; based on the photo gallery on the site, I was older than 90% of the crowd and could easily have been their dad.  The bartenders were a bit unconventional (but absolutely gorgeous women in very tight tops…I’m sure there were men bar tending for the women on the other side of the bar).  The place was packed with people, and given my PTSD would absolutely not have been a place to go to.  I would have completely freaked out within an hour and had a Sex On The Beach in my hand within 15 minutes.  This was NOT a place to go.  I even called two friends to see what they thought, and all they did was get as far as the splash page on the site and the immediate reaction in both instances was, “You ARE NOT going here!”  This was also the kind of place I was not going to feel comfortable allowing my wife to go in by herself, even if she were meeting people.  I trust her…it’s everyone else I don’t!  Of course, my wife was completely unaware of this as she was on the road; and I gave it some time before we spoke on the phone.

I kind of lay it out for her how I feel about things, tell her to think about it and we’ll talk later.  In the meantime, I’m getting crazy…absolutely crazy projecting negativity and thinking negative thoughts…the mind is running 10 million miles an hour.  This is what it is like to have PTSD and bi-polar disorder, folks.  Couple that with an aching back and it’s not making for a very nice scene.  I’m wound up tighter than I’ve been in a long time, and I’m popping Xanax like M&Ms just to calm down and keep the never ending panic attacks at bay.  I’m a mess.  (My life has now been reduced to running from my own shadow (and everyone else’s); keeping 10,000 thoughts into one single coherent one; maintain control over an extremely volatile temper; trying not to jump out of my skin because of a loud noise, and all of this…all of this while not trying to have a drink in the process.  This is what I am faced with every day.  It ain’t easy.)

My wife calls me just before she’s leaving to come home to say that we’ll just go out to dinner and a movie instead.  A nice, small, and VERY quiet (and now possibly romantic without the kids present, plus we can order more exotic food) Chinese Restaurant with amazing cuisine very close to us; and a movie we can both agree on: “Underworld: Revenge Of The Lycans”.  (NOTE: About the movie choice, my wife loves horror movies, and I liked the first two of these flicks in the series.  Besides, I had to watch the damned trailer every week for 12 weeks before I watched the webisodes of “Battlestar Galactica” on the Sci-Fi website; I figured I might as well go).  I’m getting ready: showered, beard trimmed, cats fed, cleaning up the kitchen a bit.  I thought I noticed a cool breeze for a moment, but we have an older home with an addition on it, so that happens every once in a while (or it’s our resident poltergeist; yes, we have one…and that’s another post in itself) and I think nothing of it.  Tess gets home, gets in the shower, and I’m noticing it feeling cooler in the house.  Uh-oh.  I go over to home of the heat registers, and it’s blowing cool air.  I check the thermostat: it’s on “Heat”, and there wasn’t an accidental switch somehow to “Air Conditioning”.  At this point, after everything that’s happened so far…I am starting to loose it.  OK, pop another Xanax and call the Gas Company.  The fuse is getting very short…

One of the smartest things you can do is get the Service Contract your Gas Company offers you every year; if there’s something wrong with the water heater or furnace, they’ll fix it and pretty much do anything but replace the equipment itself.  Parts and labor all included.  So, I called the gas company and the soonest appointment was the following afternoon.  I turned on my Irish charm, and explained the whole situation and they managed to get someone to come out and look at things by 8:00 PM.  OK, we could at least have dinner OR the movie (which started at 10 PM) at this point.  The Repair Guy gets here, starts up the furnace…and the heat is suddenly working.  Great…as usual, the damed equipment has a mind of its own, one designed to embarrass it’s owners.  The guy leaves, my wife continues to get ready and I pass one of the heat registers and notice that it’s warm air now, not hot.  Oh no…not again?  Again!  Within 5 minutes, it was blowing cold air.  I shut the damned thing off, call the Gas Company again and they can only send someone out the following morning.  At this point, my wife had thrown in the towel and started to make something for herself to eat, and I went to my basement den to brood.  The fuse was finished, reached the powder keg…BOOM!

Despite the fact that I was loaded up with a lovely cocktail of Xanax and other medications that would probably knock most people into next week…I lost it.  Totally lost it.  Anger and Depression and Confusion all coming through the head with great alacrity and nothing is stopping them.  It’s been a long time sense I had a meltdown like this, and not only was my wife avoiding me…so were the cats.  Pop another Xanax (I’m now at 2 mg. intake at this point) and finally start to settle down.  I actually decided at that point that I might as well go to bed, where I proceeded to rant for another hour (annoying and frightening my wife simultaneously) until all the meds kicked in at once and I was mercifully knocked unconscious for the evening.

It was a three cat night.  All of our felines were cozied up with us this morning when our alarm clocks went off an hour before the Repair Guy was supposed to get here.  The air was a chilly 60 degrees; and my wife was even more frigid.  My rants went a little too far last night, and I said some things that were downright crazy and hurtful and absolutely uncalled for…and I don’t even remember it at all.  Arriving on time at 8 AM, the gentleman proceeded to tell me it was the air filter and particles that accumulated in the furnace that caused the problem.  He got things up and running, and just after he finished,  I’m told him of all the craziness of yesterday when he just looks at me with this face of disbelief, and he simply said with a smile,  “It was Friday the 13th”.

I’ll try and somehow make things up to my wife, although I don’t know how long that is going to take.  We’re going through a rough patch right now, and seemed to pull ourselves out of it, and I screwed it up.  (It always works this way with us lately; we just can’t seem to get he train on the rails again.)  All I know is one thing: next Friday the 13th, I am making no plans nor am I driving anywhere.  Despite the fact that this little disaster happened at home, I plan to do nothing except lock myself in a room with nothing but a supply of Coke, cigarettes, and DVDs.  I never used to give this day any credence…but after yesterday, I have second thoughts.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.” – William Hutchinson Murray