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8:29 a.m. - 2002-08-30

THE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO HOME EMERGENCIES

Here's the story of a man named Brady.

Fine. My name's not Brady. But I'm delerious from lack of sleep right now, so bear with me.

Andrew woke up at 3:40 a.m., ready to get up.

Susie did a better job of pretending not to hear him than I did.

Daddy had gotten home at 11 last night after sitting and drinking beer with the men from the church and smoking Boston Butts all night.

Daddy's still half drunk as he gets up to play with Andrew.

Daddy doesn't get a diary entry written.

Daddy feels horrible for letting people down who are counting on him to deliver a thrilling story about bad builders, evil Circuit City employees or big beautiful women in bikinis.

So he decides in his infinite and slightly lazy wisdom to reprint an old newspaper column to appease the dozens of people who have read this far.

So here you go.

Straight from Daddy's heart.

An old newspaper column that stands a pretty decent chance of never having been printed in this space before.

Go me!

THE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO HOME EMERGENCIES

Last week, when our hot water heater decided to heat its last drop and just gush the rest of the reservoir all over our living room, kitchen and utility room, I learned first hand about home emergencies.

Rule number one: Home emergencies are bad.

Whether it's an antique china cabinet full of antique china and water or your front-yard oak tree resting awkwardly in your second bedroom, nobody wants to deal with a home emergency. Home emergencies screw up your entire day and sometimes an entire week and sometimes even beyond that if Kathie Lee Gifford was somehow involved. You're forced to sit at home and make lemonade for strangers and then write them big checks. In the meantime, your house is in shambles and you have an incessant desire to shove somebody ... anybody.

This has inspired me to write The Idiot's Guide to Home Emergencies. It will be on newsstands sometime never and this week I will give you the complete gist of the guide right here. It is as follows:

First off, you're an idiot and that's why you're reading this guide. The fact is established and the prosecution has rested and went home to a nice dinner. When a home emergency arises, the first thing that goes through your head is that your home will never, ever, ever be the same again. You are not thinking straight and would gladly sing the love theme from "The Spy Who Loved Me" by Carly Simon naked on the bypass if it meant this certain home emergency would go away quickly.

Calm down, Kemosabe. We can get through this. And nobody wants to see your big ol' naked butt on the bypass anyway. Here's simple solutions for home emergencies that may someday benefit you. So please memorize everything I'm about to tell you.

RATS

If your house is filled with rats, run screaming from the front door all the way to a neighbor's home. Continue screaming. When your neighbor slaps you to try and calm you down scream even louder. Do this for ten minutes or until you go hoarse whichever comes first.

Next, carefully re-enter your home, grab a credit card and go get a hotel room. Or you can share a bed with Willard, Ben, Mickey and Puxatawney Phil as they casually gnaw at your calf muscles. The choice is yours.

Then call an exterminator, give them the keys to your house, and move back in after a two-year waiting period for all the furry little lice carriers to rot away.

FIRE

If your house catches on fire and you are home, run screaming from the front door all the way to a neighbor's home. It helps to be screaming "FIRE!" because people love to see fires and everyone will race to their windows to catch a glimpse of your fire. So remember to be wearing something nice as you run screaming from your home because you are going to be the focus of attention here for a little while. Well ... you and your home.

If your neighbors have a lick of sense, they will call the fire department who are amazingly quick these days. But not while you're watching your antique collection of porcelain dolls feed the flames.

At that point, the firemen may as well be conducting waltzing lessons down at the station for the time it's taking them to get there. Calm down, grasshopper. You're just all panicky because you don't have a place to sleep tonight. Rest assured, these guys don't get paid by the minute .... they are on their way.

Top off a Fire Emergency with collapsing in your neighbor's front yard and crying loudly.

WATER

Water damage at first doesn't sound like such a bad thing. Still, as in all emergencies, a quick jog around the block screaming your fool head off should be administered just to reconfirm your idiocy.

After that, you might want to call some professionals and your insurance agency. That is... if you're up to date on your insurance payments. If you haven't paid a premium since 1995, I'd just call the professionals if I were you.

The good thing about water damage is it gives your house a cheery new smell not unlike a daycare center's dumpster in the heat of summer. So you may want to look into buying gas masks until this smell lifts its heavy fog from your home and drifts back to hell. And for Pete's sake...wear your galoshes and beware of snakes.

TREE LANDING IN YOUR SECOND BEDROOM

This has never happened to me, but I've seen it happen to plenty of others. You people are the unluckiest people in the world. There's not much I can do to help you, but if I were a betting man, I'd bet that you're so unlucky that a tree in the bedroom isn't that big of a shock to you. Probably just a normal everyday occurance for you. So running screaming from your home probably isn't in order here since you've seen it all by now. A tree crashing through the roof of your home is just icing on the cake.

That's it. I hope when disaster strikes your home, you're intelligent enough to know how to run screaming from your home. There's other emergencies such as the power going off during the Iron Bowl and half-crazed grizzly bears hiding in your closet, but we will get to those at another time.

You may now go back to your leisurely drooling.

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