Housewarmings, Freethinker Style

September 27, 1996

Well, it was a nice vacation, a good chance to get away from things.

Speaking of getaways, my Uncle Rupert recently returned to his hometown of Titusville, just outside Nashville, after a brief vacation of eleven years in Florida. See, Uncle Rupert–not really my uncle, by the way, actually he’s my father’s uncle by marriage, but there are some things like thin hair, heart disease, and Uncle Rupert that get passed on from one generation to the next. Anyway, Uncle Rupert ran into a little trouble last time he was in Titusville.

Actually, he says the trouble ran into him, which is like a man trying to drive to Europe by going through Virginia saying the Atlantic suddenly jumped in his way. Come to think of it, that is what Uncle Rupert said when, during World War II, he decided to drive to France and see how things were going. Anyway, what resulted in his last emigration to the Sunshine State was a business venture. Having flipped through two volumes of a fifteen volume set of books on air conditioning repair, he decided there wasn’t much to it and offered to repair his neighbor’s wall unit for substantially less than someone with even a vague understanding of air conditioning would ask. Rupert borrowed some appropriate looking tools from my grandfather, stuck them in his brand new overalls (later written off as a business expense) and set to work deciding where to begin his repair work. An hour later he decided taking the plastic casing off and working with whatever was on the inside would be a good start.

After getting shocked a few times, he unplugged the air conditioner and continued with the tricky business of stripping wires, wrapping the bare ends around each other, and sealing the whole thing with duct tape. He removed a few strange looking tubes, some green plastic parts, and a lot of really weird clutter he couldn’t even begin to describe. At five o’clock he started wrapping up his operation. Any leftover wires he taped to a long metal coil running along the bottom of the air conditioner, and he sealed the whole thing up with more duct tape and replaced the plastic cover. He explained to his neighbor, a kindly old woman who, as you’ve probably guessed, didn’t know Rupert that well, that he would have to buy some additional parts to replace defective ones he’d removed, but that she could still operate her air conditioner if she only turned it on after dark when the strain on it wouldn’t be as great. It’s been a matter of some controversy as to when exactly Aunt Vita got the calling to go help her mother do missionary work in Florida–a voice from above she hadn’t heard since Uncle Rupert had shot an endangered heron and shown all his neighbors this unusual bird he’d found on his property–but everyone agrees it came sometime during the confusion after the explosion. See, this was well after the Fourth of July, but with all the pretty colors in the sky, folks figured either Rick’s Fireworks Store had blown up, or they were being invaded by Mars.

As it turned out, it was neither, but the residents of Titusville celebrate the occasion to this day with fireworks and other assorted explosions, although nothing like that first display. In fact it was so extraordinary that Uncle Rupert’s participation in the festivities has been long awaited, and I understand that even now a few of his old acquaintances and close neighbors are planning a very special house-warming.
That’s this week’s edition–enjoy the weekend, and, as we used to say around my family, don’t do anything Uncle Rupert would do.

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