It's been a bit over a year since Neal wrote about your move back to TX. And
I've had your letter getting wrinkled, dusty, and bent as it waited atop my desk
for me to get off my butt and reply. I would like to trust that you're all three
alive, well, and happy. Maybe if we correspond a bit or phone-chat a bit I can
stop trusting and find out.
I was talking with my oldest friend David - buddies since we were about
5 - about the demise of my marriage -- anyway David and I were talking and I said, "You
know, Dave, I know all the psychological and practical explanations for why life
goes where it does, why a marriage ends, and so on and so on, but at the bottom
of it all, I'm basically an asshole." His laugh made me feel better. David
points out that we're all assholes and that that's always the real explanation
Now that that's out of the way I can talk more cheery, I'll give you an
update, but really I'd like to know what's up with ya'll.
New York continues to be depressed, and my County has, for a change, nearly
led the market in lost jobs, since IBM has forgotten how to star in the computer
business. I estimate we've lost about 1/3 of the middle and upper middle income
jobs in the Hudson Valley. At least the traffic is not quite as bad. So I think
on occasion (maybe daily) about selling the rental houses and moving somewhere
warmer -- maybe next year when Sara's off in school, particularly if the
real-estate market recovers a bit I'd consider selling off my house which
presently keeps me land-poor.
Glad you were finally able to sell the houe in AZ - did the buyers know that
their shit would have to flow uphill under the driveway? I was hoping they'd not
have a home inspector, at least not a real one.
The Florida Sister-Act continues to be really neat. Our respective Mom's are
a sketch. I visited them recently when I was down teaching a seminar near
Orlando. They'd just bought matching personal alarm systems - a stupid hand-held
thing I call the "shrieker" since if you're being mugged you push a button and
it shrieks loud enough to crack plaster.
After talking about them for an evening over dinner, I was asleep in Mom's
guest room when she first woke me up by opening and closing the garage door --
the opener is right below my bed; then she went out her bathroom balcony door to
see how good was my paint job I'd done on her roof the day before- and she set
off the house alarm... so I decided I might as well get up. I was stumbling
towards the bathroom-- I just cannot live in the AM before peeing and brushing
my teeth - it's always a debate which I do first since I really have to pee but
my mouth tastes like shit.
Anyway, suddenly I heard this incredible SHRIEKING
EEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAA and the plaster began to
vibrate over the bathroom mirror.
Of course I knew immediately Mom had, for some reason, let a mugger into the
house and he was probably stabbing her to death right at that moment.
So I peed, brushed my teeth, and then walked slowly and calmly towards Mom's
bedroom, from whence the Shrieking continued
EEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA - it's a gas, man.
Actually I didn't really brush my teeth etc. I ran in there.
Mom had been trying to register the warranty on her shrieker machine.
Instructions said to record the serial number, from within the battery
compartment. Struggling with the battery cover she set the damn thing off.
It occurs to me that if you're holding one of these alarms and the mugger
approaches and you set it off, all he has to do is bop you over the head or
shoot your ass immediately, the throw the stupid machine in the nearest canal.
In fact, I'd throw one in the canal immediately if you gave it to me as a goddam
The shrieking made it impossible for us to talk, but I managed to get Mom to
give me the invention, and we tried to shut it off -- she'd not really read that
part of the instructions very carefully, and Neal, Gwen, you just can't stand
there calmly reading instructions while your ears are being ripped off by 9
Mom lives by a golf course, but I was chicken shit to throw the thing out her
window, god knows who would come and see me in my drooping jockey shorts. So I
stuffed under the pillows of her couch and then piled the bedclothes atop it,
after which threre continued a nearly bearable
The instructions say "calmly push the red button three times, at one second
intervals." They're not kidding about the precision of the intervals. DO they
think the mugger is going to push the stupid reset button. Hell he'll shoot both
you and the dumb shrieker. Probably shoot you first for having one.
We got it off.
That night your mom brought her shrieker to dinner in the fancy French
restaurant. She had it in her purse. We told her about the morning's adventure
and I swear, every time your mom's purse banged against something I was up the
fuck out of my chair and heading for the restaurant's door.
(Maybe we could have dropped it into a water pitcher. That might be really
cool!) Rita managed to avoid setting off her alarm, but the idea of it led to a
whole set of speculations of what to do with it if the alarm goes off in a
restaurant (which would surely empty the place out and end your welcome there)
or in a car (We all agreed the whole thing would go out the window-Rita said
even if it was in her purse she'd throw the purse out the window, credit cards,
money, and all).
Keep your guns, Neal.
Love to you all.
Continue reading at POETRY & SHORT FICTION, Daniel Friedman or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
Suggested citation for this web page
Shrieker Sisters at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Search the InspectApedia website
Technical Reviewers & References
Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman