T + Wit

I deduced it, finally. Elementary and all that. Rule out the usual suspects, consider the unusual ones, eliminate that which I can and what’s left is what I’m looking for, unless it’s not.

I’ve heard this sound for weeks now, down in the basement, always as I come in from the garage. Kind of a weird, intermittent sound. It reminded me a little of a chirp, but this is January and surely no bird got into my basement and built a nest. Or even my garage, although that’s happened before.

I considered the walls and imagined rodent-like creatures, but this basement is tricky. First, halfway up the walls is all concrete. Second, a fair portion, maybe a quarter, of this basement is without drywall, just studs. And the remaining part that IS finished WAS finished by ME, stuffed with insulation and not particularly accessible. Anything can happen but that seemed unlikely.

I would stop and listen sometimes, but then it would be quiet. As I said, it was intermittent. I started to zero in on the pipes, having pretty much ruled out critters, but I kept coming back to the floor.

It’s concrete there, garage and entry way to the basement. The rest is carpet, and upstairs is mostly wood. The ground has been real soggy for weeks, coinciding with my mysterious noise, and so the question became: Is the literal foundation of my house now waterlogged and beginning to crack, releasing pressure with little bubbly strange sounds, particularly when I walk on it? And this can’t be good, right?

Took me a while, but I got it. As I said, it was mostly deduction.

And also I started hearing it upstairs in the kitchen, and eventually I realized that I had very squeaky shoes, is all, and NO ONE HAD TOLD ME. Explaining why I now use a lot of mouthwash and trim those nose hairs more often, because we’re on our own here.


I watched “Wit” the other night, which came in one of those archaic round plastic discs in the mail (you mean I actually have to insert this thing into a DVD player and listen to it whir around? Bizarre). It’s the 2001 HBO film adaptation of the play by Margaret Edson, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Emma Thompson, which explains a lot.

Well done, but I wouldn’t recommend it, particularly to anyone who has had to deal with a loved one undergoing treatment for cancer. Painful and sad.

It comes up because Jack LaLanne died this weekend at the age of 96. Hard to grieve for someone with that long of a life, and apparently such a full and active one, although it did seem unfair. Relatively few people make it to the age of 100, and I’d bet that none of them had the history of such attention paid to the care and upkeep of the human body as Jack.

Still, I’m going to assume that he experienced what social scientists call “compressed morbidity,” which is a good life with few signs of debilitation and then a sudden, quick end. Unlike the character in “Wit,” who spent 8 months undergoing painful chemotherapy and then died anyway, unpleasantly.

We should all wish for a LaLanne death, if not his life (it’s a good goal, but the man was intense). I have no clues about my endgame, although lately for some reason I’ve decided that it would be fun to be at the wedding of a grandchild, so let’s shoot for that.

“Grandpa looks good,” someone will say, and someone else will add, “He’s slowing down a little,” and I will snicker. I never sped up, which may be the secret of my success, and maybe explains why I didn’t hear my shoes until this late date.

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