They say that one of the most exhilarating and satisfying experiences a person can have is being shot at and missed. I’m not at all satisfied but that level of adrenaline is blasting thru the top of my head.
I might have been sleeping, I might have had an armful, I might have been reading. I might have been making love to the likes of Ms. Honolulu 1970 (see below). As it happened, I was typing on this very keyboard when an earth-shattering screeching ripped thru my ears. Instantly, violently crashing in the center of my head in a collision of sound that made my eyes bug out. My ears farted and flapped back-and-forth as the shockwave ricocheted out. Before I knew it, my ass was a good six inches from my chair and still heading up. I landed with a fairly disgusting ‘plop’ as gravity yanked me down.
“What the fuck was that?”
I begged the universe to enlighten me. She kept silent as is typically her style.
“Shit! I know what that is.”
The battery in the smoke alarm just bought the farm.
Why, why, why dear makers of alarms leaving deafness in your wake, why at the first notice of slight battery weakness, why do you have to go off like Mrs. O’Leary’s cow just kicked the lamp? Dudes! Dudettes! Whoever is running the company (and you know who you are) … you need to shape up and tone it down. Seriously! Heart attacks are happening! Ejaculations are becoming premature! I still can’t get the freakin’ cat off the ceiling!
How about this? The first alarm is a nice, quite, hand on the shoulder …
“Hey, listen, put 9-volt batteries on your shopping list. And don’t forget to check your battery stock for hurricane season.”
And I could simply nod and stumble and move (simply out of habit, nothing more) to get a second cup of coffee. Without launching the cup across the kitchen.
At next notice … a little louder, a little more terse —
“Listen, I’ve put the damn batteries on your shopping list myself. (In the 21st century, all machines talk with each other behind our backs). If you don’t want to buy the batteries yourself, you should know that I’ve ordered a dozen packs of the most expensive 9-V’s I could find at my … uh, your store. Express shipping. Insured. You have 48 hours beginning now.
Don’t get me wrong. Fresh batteries in the smoke detector are a damn fine idea and I don’t mean to disparage it in the least. We’re coming up on the end of DST and we might as well get batteries now.
Having said that … what the holy hell is wrong with starting off with a nice, soft tune? The battery is playing its favorite song as the end of its life draws near. “He was a good battery.” “Remember the great grease fire of ’14?” “He saved everybody!” “Even the dogs and cats.” “We’ll never see his like again.”
Second notice is a little strong, a little louder. Three or four times louder than a microwave’s “dinner’s ready” notice. Not so loud as to make one’s ears bleed. Keep sending those middling alarms tones close enough together so we can track down which alarm is ringing. Not the “you stand by the upstairs one and I’ll stay here; then we’ll check the basement” school of dying battery discovery.
And if still we’ve ignored all your patient urging, yes, please do let us know, in the strongest terms possible. But even then, my friend, hold back a little something, decibel-wise, for the real alarms. The “run-for-your-life-your-house-is-on-fire” fire alarms.
If “change the batteries” and “save your life” have the same sound urgency, I’m liable to get scared-awake in the middle of a blazing inferno and start changing batteries.
Just because The Internet sees all and knows all, of course your humble narrator ran “Ms. Honolulu 1970” through The Google Machine. Just to see what I was rhetorically getting myself into. And there she was — Miss Hawaii USA 1970, Donna Hartley — now of Hartley International. Quoting her website, “Donna Hartley transforms lives and electrifies her audiences worldwide with her storytelling.” She also does weddings. I intended to include a photograph to show how cute she was in 1970 but her lawyers were very clear on the website that posting her photo was a strict no-no. Being no fool, I didn’t. Although I’m sure that being sued by Miss Honolulu 1970 does have a short story or two in it. Anyway, Ms. H. glad to see you’re doing well.