We recently survived a night under attack by the most horrible noise on earth. It was a piercing sound, one that penetrates your brain like a dentist’s drill on steroids. It was more grating than a thousand fingernails on a chalkboard; more painful than hundreds of TV’s blaring the emergency broadcast system alert; and more annoying that Gilbert Gottfried.
The night of horrors began after an extremely nice evening. Along with a few of our pals, we had dinner at one of our friend’s homes. After dinner, we enjoyed an exciting board game that featured race hoses, dice, gambling and mass quantities of adult beverages. Thanks to a flurry of good luck toward the end of the evening, we were the big winners. We took our two dollars in winnings, said our goodnights, and headed home.
It was well after 11 when we arrived home. We fondly recalled times when 11 p.m. meant things were just getting started. Now it’s well past our bedtime and almost equivalent to staying up to watch the sunrise. Full of food, wine, and flush with our winnings, my wife and I were soundly asleep in seconds.
At 2:30 a.m. terror struck. There was a horrendous noise that repeated itself every half minute or so. It wasn’t quite a “chirp” or a “tweet.” It was more like a combination of the two—a “twerp.” Over and over again, the twerp came into the bedroom, bouncing off the walls and attacking our eardrums. As you must know by now, the noise was a smoke detector alarm warning us the battery was low.
As bad as the noise was for us, Paris the Wonder Dog had it even worse. Paris turns into a quivering mass of white fur during thunder or lightning. This was crueler than a pounding storm. The smoke alarm demon sent her into total panic. Going under the bed—her usual defense against lightning—wasn’t enough. She just sat by the bed, panting and shaking.
We knew we had to locate the demon smoke alarm and change the battery. The problem is there are three smoke alarms and one carbon monoxide alarm within 10 feet of one another in and near our bedroom. We couldn’t tell which one was twerping, so we decided to change batteries in all of them.
The thing which complicated the problem was that the builders for The Villages chose to put smoke alarms so high, you need a very tall ladder to reach them. Now I realize that from a fire prevention point of view, that having smoke alarms really, really high up makes sense because smoke rises. But it is a bit scary to picture folks in our age demographic (meaning old) climbing up and down huge ladders.
We remembered the nice firefighters from The Villages Fire Department would change your smoke alarm batteries if you ask them, but we were sure they wouldn’t be very excited about doing it at 2:30 a.m.
My days of climbing huge ladders are long gone, and I began trembling like Paris when I thought about it. So my wife began scampering up and down the ladder, changing batteries. But alas, our woes were not to be ended so easily. We discovered only three new batteries for four alarms, with at least one of them twerping and keeping Paris in absolute fear for her life.
New batteries went into three of the four alarms. There was wonderful silence—for 37 seconds. Then twerp, twerp, twerp. With a flurry of misguided brilliance, I announced that if we took the batteries out of the last alarm, the twerping would stop. It can’t twerp without a battery, I said.
I was wrong. Twerp. Twerp. Twerp.
Closing the door didn’t help. Even with my lousy hearing, the twerping penetrated the door. I’m sure it sounded even worse to Paris’ sensitive doggy ears.
After sleeping maybe an hour or so between twerps, I got up and rushed out to buy new batteries. I spent our newly gained $2 winnings and a lot more on a fistful of nine-volt batteries.
One more trip up the ladder and all those wretched alarms had new batteries. Paris the Wonder Dog quit quivering and demanded breakfast.
Next time, maybe the firefighters will come out at 2:30 a.m. If I beg them.