Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Attention middle aged men! Read how to get lucky when your wife is away!

I got lucky yesterday! Don’t tell Lori, she was out running errands at the time, and if she finds out there will be hell to pay! I was a little nervous at first, I didn’t want to get caught but I just decided to go for it. I’m 49, not getting any younger, and this could be the last chance. So after Lori left, I went out to the shed, grabbed the ladder, and proceeded to clean the gutters.

I’ve been cleaning my gutters since living in this house until a couple years ago, that is, after the renovation. Before the renovation I could reach all the gutters with my extension ladder. Now, with the second floor addition there is a set of gutters that runs the back length of the house that are about 20 feet off the ground. I can still get to the lower gutters, but the only way to get to the higher gutters is with an extension ladder longer than I have, or, climb up on the roof.

When I was a kid I would sometimes climb out my bedroom window onto the lower roof over our family room. From there I could stand up and lift myself onto the main roof. I didn’t do it a lot, but did it some. It was easy and a little thrilling. In college we’d climb up on the roof of our frat house. It was easy to get to and the roof had a low slope. It was probably more dangerous than we thought, but we didn’t care. There was a great view from there. In grad school I helped a friend, who was renovating a house, put on a new roof. That was hard work, but kind of fun in that I realized this wasn’t going to be my career. Roofers: Hats off to you. That is hard work!

The point of that last paragraph is to say: I have roof experience. But I don't have recent roof experience. And I’ve never actually been on my current roof. Since the renovation I’ve gladly paid someone else to get way up on the top of our newer and higher roof to clear the gutters of our prodigious leaf fall. Typically they get up on the lower, porch, roof with one ladder, and then get up onto the main roof with a second ladder straddled over the lower peak of the porch roof. From there, with a rake or leaf blower, the job is easy. One year my next door neighbor Jon climbed up on the roof and did the job for me.

So how hard could it be? I have my extension ladder, and I have a six-foot folding stepladder for the second flight. I got everything ready: Extension ladder, second ladder and leaf blower (borrowed from same neighbor Jon), and climb up onto the first roof. I step off the ladder and onto the asphalt shingles and instantly realize this was a mistake. I have the wrong shoes on. I thought old running shoes would be soft and pliable and grippy to the shingles, but they were slippery and slidey. Adrenaline pumping, I skittered up, hands and knees, to the lower peak of the porch roof and stopped. Holding on to the peak with my gloved hands, I realized I would not clean all the gutters.

I had created in my imagination this story: Lori gets home. I'm waiting casually for her on the front porch with proud puffed out chest and with a sweep of my right arm up, pointing vaguely to the roof and the heavens proclaim, “Look, my winsome love, I have cleaned ALL of your gutters – yes, even the dangerous second level gutters!” She would have cursed at me for getting up on the roof, something she had expressly forbidden, but it would all be a play of course. For I know she would secretly be impressed by my masculine daring, would drop her grocery bags to her side, grab me by the arm, and take me inside to make mad and passionate love.

That was the plan and why I was going to clean the gutters. Now I was confronted with a whole new set of fantasies that involved ambulances, and broken bones, I-told-you-sos, and being out $75 to pay the guy who comes around and cleans gutters.

Where I got lucky!
To get down I reluctantly let go of the roof peak and started to slowly and uncontrollably slide toward the ladder. I sensed that if my feet hit the ladder it would be too fast, my momentum would knock the ladder over and I’d have an 8-foot fall to look forward to. Without thinking I rolled onto my back, and planted the heels of my slippery running shoes best I could and stopped! Now I was 180 degrees rotated and out of position to re-mount the extension ladder. But the stepladder was in front of me standing on a 4 foot high wooden "shed" we built for stowing trash cans, propane tanks, and miscellaneous yard gear. I had set the stepladder on top of it thinking I would grab it from the porch roof and set it in the straddled position for the second part of the climb. Not realizing I was completely fucked, I gradually inched towards the stepladder on my back. I didn’t have a plan, exactly, but thought with the combo of the two ladders something would work out. As I slowly approached the edge of the roof, I lifted my left foot to reach the extension ladder and as I did, the disappearance of that little bit of friction was all it took. My left foot, now against the extension ladder, allowed my body’s momentum to pivot to the right and I slid, sideways, right off the edge, landing on the roof of the shed.

Leaves ready for pickup!
Now this shed isn’t a regular shed, it’s sort of a homemade job, though I hired a handyman to construct it. The roof is actually a giant lid that opens up. And it’s construction is fine but not rigid (a former complaint of mine). So not only did the shed reduce my fall distance by half, the non-rigid wooden roof/lid cushioned my fall. I lied there for a moment, sat up, and took a deep breath. What did I just hurt? I waited. I waited for the pain and miraculously, after about 30-seconds, none materialized! It was like one of those scenes in the movies when the bad guys chase the good guy off a building and he lands in a dumpster full of soft, cushiony bags of trash.


I sat there for a few more moments, then hopped down, finished cleaning the lower gutters and raked up all the rest of the leaves in the yard. They now wait for the city to come around and suck them up with their leaf-sucking truck!

And that is the story of how I got lucky when Lori wasn’t home. Please don’t tell her.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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