March 12, 2004

Atlas

The alarm of my smoke alarm is incredibly annoying. Obviously it was designed to be annoying, but this is something else. It was as though the hatch to hell had burst open, releasing the screech of a million damned souls in eternal agony. I almost leapt out of the shower.

The first thing I did was turn off the burner under the charred and smoking pot of oatmeal. Then I ran around the apartment in search of an implement – something wide and flat – to wave at the smoke alarm. Naturally I was naked, naked and dripping wet, but more to the point I had left my glasses in the bathroom, which meant I couldn’t see. Three times I headed back to get them and three times thought better of it.

In retrospect this scene resembled a compacted, minimalist version of the Keystone cops, with all the cops played by a single actor who for some reason is naked, wet, and severely nearsighted.

Here’s something I learned today: Dynamic HTML by Danny Goodman, while an excellent reference source, comprehensive and well-written, is not the best thing to wave at a smoke alarm. For one thing it’s 1,073 pages, not counting the front and back matter. That’s a lot of pages. Despite using two hands, I couldn’t get any speed going. Worse, the book is just nine by seven inches, so there’s not much surface to generate resistance. A coffee table book would have been far better. That or an atlas. I just now thought of an atlas. I don’t own any coffee table books but I do own an atlas. Two in fact. Fuck.

For a moment I considered looking for the off button on the smoke alarm, only this would have meant getting my glasses from the bathroom and dragging a chair from the kitchen, and I wasn’t even sure that smoke alarms have off buttons. Do they? Probably they do. Which is too bad for me because I must have waved that book for two minutes before the screech finally stopped. When it did, I immediately headed to the bathroom to dry myself, only the screech started again. Four times this happened, and each time the pause between screeches lasted longer. During the pauses I dried myself, put on my glasses, dressed, moved the pot to the sink, opened the windows, and turned on the vent above the stove.

Now it’s a few hours later and I can’t tell if my apartment smells better or if I’m just getting used to it. Probably it’s a combination.

As a kind of joke, I just walked around the apartment trying to figure out where the hatch to hell would go.