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Things That Go Bump in the Night

Living by yourself can be difficult. Living by yourself with an overactive imagination and inflated fear of the dark can be nearly impossible.

Dinner served by candlelight, stargazing on a cloudless night, two glasses of wine on the back porch under the moonshine. It sounds devastatingly romantic, doesn’t it? It wasn’t.

The six days my street didn’t have power after Irene were anything but romantic. Maybe if I had someone to share them with besides the beagle… Maybe if every bump in the night didn’t leave me sitting up straight in bed with a flashlight and can of AquaNet for protection… Maybe if I had paid attention to this article in the Village Voice and found myself a Hurricane Boyfriend… Alas, Huck (my beagle) and I weathered the storm and faced the terror of our darkest imaginings with no one but each other.

Have I ever told you that beagles make terrible guard dogs?

I’d never seen a storm like Irene before. The havoc she wrecked in Connecticut was beyond my wildest imaginings. On Sunday morning, I walked around with my neighbors, all of us wearing a wide-eyed unbelieving stare, like it was the Zombie Apocalypse.

The night of the storm, two of my friends and a tank of hermit crabs were evacuated from their homes and stayed at my place. The house felt full of allies who could help me fend off any nefarious intruders. By Sunday night, they were gone (except the hermit crabs, who stayed the whole week).

The only sounds in my neighborhood came from the drone of generators and my mind wandered down dark paths. I heard bumps and thumps and something I swear sounded like a box cutter against my window screen. Huckleberry didn’t hear anything – he was under the covers snoring.

I don’t keep any weapons in my house. Well, unless you count my set of neglected kitchen knives, and I don’t, because killing someone with one of those would be like killing them with a spoon.

It’s not that I’m against firearms or crossbows or whatever; I’d just rather not have anything someone would be able to wrestle away from me and use against me. In college, I got a C- in personal defense; so I prefer to call 9-1-1 and let the kids that got A’s in that class handle the situation.

Most times, I don’t even get out of bed to investigate a strange noise. I grab my phone and hide under the covers with the snoring beagle. The coastal Epic Blackout was no exception.

When I saw the CL&P trucks on Short Beach Road, in Branford, I rolled my window down and cheered. I’m not sure if the linemen appreciated the sudden burst of screams, giggles and clapping, but most smiled and waved back.

I’m not going to lie; the sight of that truck got me thinking about how nice it would be to have a handy man around the house. Someone who can do a little more than “jiggle the handle” when the toilet won’t stop running; someone who can investigate those scary nighttime noises; someone who can bring electricity back into my life... literally.

When the trucks finally drove down my street, Huckleberry and I rushed out to offer a glass of warm water or cup of black coffee – without ice or cream, it was all I could do. The team smiled, and declined, but thanked me for the thought. One of the linemen came over to pet Huck and we started talking.

I glanced up at the guy working on the line high in the cherry picker. I wasn’t wearing my glasses and the sun was pretty bright, but I thought he was cute. This was a great opportunity to hook a handy man. I just had to be sweet and charming and let the beagle work his floppy-eared-sad-eyed-magic. If we played our cards right, Huck and I would batten down for the next storm with a man who looked as if he could singlehandedly hold the roof down.

The team worked quickly and lights, radios and televisions flickered up and down Clark Ave. The Prince in the cherry picker was lowered down and came over to pet Huckleberry. My heartbeat quickened, my palms began to sweat and we made eye contact. Unfortunately, he was well beyond my age range and not as tall as he looked when he was standing 20 feet over my head. I smiled, thanked him again and Huck and I left.

That night, I slept like a baby – by the soft glow of my nightlight.

Sure, it would be nice to have a man around sometimes to do “man” things; like take out the garbage, fight off intrusive insects, straighten all of the crooked pictures I have hanging on the walls, or investigate those bumps and thumps and cries in the night.

But, while spiders present one of the top arguments in favor of matrimony, there are a lot of perks to living alone: I can sleep in the middle of the bed, 47 pairs of shoes fit in my closet, I can play my Ani Difranco and Indigo Girls CD’s as loud and often as I like, and no one gets mad at me for hitting the snooze button eight times or leaving wet towels on the floor.

And as far as my fear of the dark goes, I guess I could always get a bigger dog. That way, I can hold onto my independence and all my shoes a little while longer.

Maureen Dixon October 02, 2011 at 03:58 AM
Dear Pink - I actually feel safer knowing the "hairspray defense" has been tried and found true. Thanks!
John Alfone October 02, 2011 at 11:30 PM
Well, it looks like I'm the first guy to respond. I live alone after 31 years of marriage and 7 of divorce and I can't stand being alone. Fear? No. Lonliness. Not just being alone but the lonliness. I cannot have a pet where I live and i love dogs............it would be so different with my canine friend.
Maureen Dixon October 03, 2011 at 11:52 PM
I hear you on the loneliness issue, John. As lovely and romantic as fall can be around here, the winters do feel long and lonely. Luckily, I do have Huckleberry, but being lonely is definitely the most difficult part of being single.
Crystal_D October 05, 2011 at 02:21 PM
Look out for those handymen types! My darling husband attempted to change my oil in my Subaru Outback a few years ago... he poured out the transmission fluid, poured oil down my engineblock, and wiped his hands on his coveralls and poured himself a beer. I got a $2,000 new transmission for a present! - Crystal
Victoriaanna Adinolfi October 16, 2011 at 01:07 PM
I've trained one of my dogs to "Get it!" and he will practically scale the walls to get a spider or dive nose first into a corner to get those nasty, multi-legged feathery things. That's the only "blue diaper" job I loathe, so problem solved!

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