We realized long before we left Boulder that the guy who had installed all our custom electronics -- weeks late -- had serious issues with time management. It was only after we had been living in the bus, however, that we discovered he had even more serious issues with custom electronics. By the time we hit Maryland, we had gone nearly four months without TV, an unimaginable hardship at the start of our journey. Now, we no longer really cared, but still, our bus' honor required that she have all working parts. So, we hired someone else and purged her of all the original guy's work, (the back up cameras, security system, internet, etc that he had installed also weren't working properly). When we finally had TV again, we realized how much it is like crack. We stared at the screen, open-mouthed, as mindless commercials played. I felt my IQ drop a few points, but am powerless to tear myself away.
“Look!” Tim marveled. “They got movin’ images and everything!” I tried to rise, but was rooted to the reclining loveseat. I cursed its plush leather pillows, specifically designed to maximize viewing pleasure. Then, I realized I am still holding the remote. If I can just get my index finger to move.
“Must… stop… picture… machine… ” I manage to press the “off” button. The spell broken, we turn toward each other.
“That was one bad relapse, man,” I lament. Tim agrees. In a direct contradiction to everything our training has taught us about addiction, we vow to severely ration TV and find that it’s not so difficult when we're setting the whirlwind pace of 49 states in 12 months.
As if to help our resolve, the motor on the TV lowering device soon burns out due to the original guy’s poor design. About a week after we had it replaced, I notice a wisp of smoke coming from the ceiling. Tim stood directly under it.
“Did you light a match?” I ask. It’s not as stupid a question of a nonsmoker as one would think, for only a few days before, seeing a tick on Miles, Tim had done just that. Now, though, he just said no and resumed his tinkering with the dashboard. The wisp grew less wispy and more fanned out. I must have had the same perplexed expression on my face as the first caveman who had ever achieved…
“FIRE!” I screamed. Okay, so I’ve been known to exaggerate. I guess that’s why Tim shot me an incredulous look. But, when he followed my gaze, he saw it, too. He sprang into action, pushing the button that would lower the TV. Nothing happened. As the smoke grew, I started opening windows.
“Where’s the fire extinguisher?” I coughed. Although I had never seen it, I rightly assumed Project Nerd would have installed one. Tim ran to the kitchen, grabbed it from a cabinet and as he leapt to the front of the bus, pulled the safety ring. He let ‘er rip… right into his chest. Perhaps, without his usual superhero accoutrement of safety goggles, he couldn’t see where he was aiming the thing. He quickly righted it, just as a flame lapped out overhead.
It was over in a few seconds. (The clean up took hours.) Then, Tim manually lowered the TV, a laborious process involving a flexible extension on his electric drill which he painstakingly explained made it work like a Dremel tool. (I suppose I should say here what a Dremel tool is, but I don’t know because I was really not in the mood to listen.) Miraculously, there was no damage, just the burned wire. I didn’t even care about that. All I could think of was how fortunate we were that this happened while we were home. Strangely, I didn’t even contemplate the potential damage to the bus. Every thing is replaceable, I realized. Except, if we’d been out, our pets would have been toast.
What is happening to me? “Everything is replaceable” is hardly a thought becoming a Princess, but it was my only thought. While I adore my pets, after a lifetime of rampant and yes, even resplendent consumerism, I would have expected to have given some of my belongings -- certainly at least my shoes -- a second thought. But, I really didn’t care. Everything is replaceable. Well, at least I hadn’t gone so completely insane as to think the occasion didn’t call for a commemorative martini. And, a lovely shade of orangey-red it was. I called this newest nectar, Fire in the Hole. It was a toss up between naming it that or Dumb Luck, which I realized is what we, two Yuppies with no experience with busing, epitomized. Stay tuned for our latest disaster...