FURTHERMORE AND THE EVIL SPRINKLERS
The question on the television game show was simple. Name the first woman to spend more than six months in space. My daughter immediately shouted “Mom,” and then dissolved into gales of laughter. Her mother (my wife) took exception to the implication of spaciness and proceeded to go into a ballistic mode.
I excused myself, on the general feeling that it was probably time for me to leave. Fathers and husbands have this special sense about these things. Anyway, I was certain I could hear Furthermore calling from the caverns below the house, so I excused myself and headed for the secret staircase behind the fireplace. I would tell you more about it, but then it wouldn’t be secret, after all. Duh.
I’m uncertain even now what it was that I expected when I arrived at the base of the winding stairs cut into the living rock below the house. I do know that it wasn’t even remotely what I found.
The usually fierce nine-headed hydra (whom I pay by the hour to guard the entrance to the cavern, although I’m the only one who ever comes here) was paddling about in a large pool of water. It had a rubber ducky and new water wings and managed to ignore me completely. Now, there’s nothing I hate more than ignorance, so I shot a few spare bolts of lightening its way. I figured the water, the lightening and the hydra should make an interesting combination. It was only afterwards that I stopped to wonder about the pool of water. It certainly hadn’t been there last week. I notice these things.
I splashed through it to the main cavern arch. Atop the old oaken cadaver table sat Furthermore, a rather droopy Furthermore. He was flopped out in his little Morris chair under a large umbrella, reading the Philalethes magazine. A steady rain beat down on the umbrella and dripped into his martini.
This was a first. I’d never seen it rain in the cavern.
He greeted me with a waterlogged screech.
“Still haven’t figured out that darned sprinkler system, I see,” he accused me.
A light dawned. I had hoped it was something simple, like the ancient plumbing. Then I could just give up and call the professionals. No. It had to be the sprinkler system. It was in the lawn, right above Furthermore’s underground digs. I should have known.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been fighting with my sprinkler system for 10 years. I hate it. I may have it killed. I may kill it myself. The GAOTU knows, I’ve tried hard enough. And there seems to be some sort of unwritten macho guy type rule that says you have to fix your own sprinkler system. It doesn’t seem to apply anyplace else.
One time, the clock that controls when the sprinklers come on and for how long wasn’t working. I put in a new one. I did this because I’m handy and understand all about electricity. After the burns healed, I set it and watched with pride as it went to work. First the lights in the bedroom turned on and stayed on for 10 minutes. Then the lights in the family room went on, followed by other rooms in sequence. It worked perfectly. Except the lights in the house don’t have a thing to do with watering the lawn, which is what it was supposed to do in the first place.
Or the time it decided to set its own times. Usually in the middle of the night, at which time it blows a head or two and sends up tall geysers that sometimes draw tourists from miles around—and sometimes just cover my car with dirt, water and mud. Once, I snuck up on it in the middle of the night and cut its power. In retaliation, it came on in the middle of an outdoor party in the backyard, thoroughly soaking all guests.
It is despicable. Which is probably why Furthermore admires it.
Anyway, I admitted to my bird brother that the sprinklers had a life of their own and I was unable to control them. “They’re just children,” he snorted, “I’ll take care of it.”
He flapped off and, sure enough, pretty soon the rain stopped. Furtherrmore came sailing back. I had to know.
“How did you do that?” I queried the wise old bird.
“Simple. I told it you were planning to install desert landscaping next week if it didn’t cooperate.”
Since then, it has worked perfectly. The lawn is green up, the neighbors are happy, I proudly survey the expanse of green in front of my home, and all is well in suburbia. Well, almost. The hydra is angry because it had invested in waterwings. And I’ve noticed that when I drive out in the morning, one tiny sprinkler head pops up just enough to drench my tires. I try not to think about it.