I have given actual thought to what I would use a time machine for. Assuming I could redirect a path I’d chosen, what would it be? There have been bad fashion choices, some questionable purchases, maybe the degree program I chose, definitely a man or three. But to truly do the classic time warp question justice, I think the event can’t just be embarrassing or frustrating or the result of some Monday morning quarterbacking. It has to be truly, epically regrettable.
Twenty-five years ago someone decided to insulate beneath the floor of the cottage. The basement was a recent addition, and someone had decided more was more. Up it went; I barely paid attention. A couple of people raised an eyebrow over the years, but it finally took our current contractor, the much put-upon Rod, to look at me point blank and say, “whoever put that up was an idiot. That’s why it’s so wet under here. Get rid of it.” Rod gets paid by the hour, not the word and certainly not for subtle nuance.
I told Roz and Gilly, my sisters, it was my problem. It had happened on my watch, and I’d pull it out. They did that thing where you look in the distance and whistle and asked if I needed any garbage bags.
Last week I stood in Home Depot puzzling over goggles and masks. I bought a zip-up jump suit and gloves, marvelling how they knew everyone in the world were either a Large or Xtra Large. I dug up my little LED headlamp thingee, hands down the best flashlight when you need to keep your hands free. I presumed I would need to keep my hands free.
You know why you need to keep your hands free while you’re pulling fibreglass insulation from over your head? So you can try to stop all the poop and the dead animals that made that poop from showering down on you. We have a mouse deterrent system called Ousta Mouse. I found the outsta mouse summer house.
I worked all morning hauling that nasty insulation down. Within five minutes I couldn’t see, because I was dripping sweat and my glasses were fogging up behind my goggles. I had wisely not put contacts in, but I looked like a giant marshmallow with black rubber gloves up to my elbows and a baseball cap jauntily perched on my head to hold the hood, the goggles, the lamp and the mask in place. I was terrified that casual kayakers might see me and wave, or someone might come up the driveway, lost.
Careful not to bring any of those fibres inside, I stripped to my unders outside and hit the shower, again keeping an eye out for kayakers and lost people. Pammy texted and asked if I got a selfie of my outfit; I told her I’d looked like a near-sighted teenage mutant ninja turtle. She admonished me for missing the opportunity to capture it.
My phone blurped, and Roz asked if I’d done it yet.
“I found the outsed mouses,” I told her.
“I was dripping sweat, I have a pounding headache and I’m flushing my eyes with saline every ten minutes,” I continued. I wanted all the points I had coming.
“I really I wish I were there to help,” she said.
“There’s no point in two people being under there,” I sighed, dramatically.
“No, I just mean to hand you a cold beverage.”
Forget fibreglass insulation. My parents needed that time machine about five years before I was born.