Sadistic Suburban Life Forces

by Christine Adams Beckett

There is a supreme energy that wreaks havoc on suburbanites, a force similar to Mercury in retrograde, causing erratic behavior in people and generally fouling up matters in the physical world.  It steals socks from the drier, breaks your air compressor on the hottest day of the year, invites mosquitos into your bedroom just as you feel sleep about to take your consciousness, and will suck the battery life dry — with the sole exception of the drop needed to chirp you awake at 3 AM — from your carbon monoxide detectors.

Murphy’s Law has nothing on the Sadistic Suburban Life Force.  Anything that can go wrong, will.  It will cause that one corner of your flounder to fall from the grill on your range to blacken, char and send off smoke signals to the detector, setting off the alarm and summoning the Montclair Fire Department to your door, and give your fire-phobic six year-old the thrill of her short lifetime.  It will give your dog some strange parasite about 36 hours prior to a luncheon planned for the ladies at church, leaving you scrubbing foul-smelling stains from the carpet just prior to their arrival.   It will invite your children to leave the car door open the night before an important meeting crosstown, and make you curse in the presence of young children.  With big ears.

The Force also seems to strike children with fevers in the middle of the night.  It summons wind storms to blow open doors just as you get a call — a wrong number — informing you that the individual that used to be assigned your telephone number testified against a man, now released from prison, in a court of law.  It awakens mysterious, unidentified creatures to dance in the attic above your sleepy, but startled head.  It mysteriously kills patches of your lawn, steals the twist ties from your loaves of sliced bread, and spills liquids in the refrigerator, making a mini waterfall cascading through the closed door of your refrigerator, an inviting treat for the family dog with a weak stomach.

Sadistic Suburban Forces will also break your washing machine as you are trying to rid piles and piles of your children’s bed clothes of head lice and nits.  It will summon rug pads to disintegrate and leave sneezy masses of grit to tickle the insides of your nose.  It will throw otitis at your children’s middle ears just before that already paid vacation to the US Virgin Islands, and urinary tract infections at your toddler the week you invite a new puppy into your home.

The street sweepers will visit your rambling road the morning you get to sleep in.  The paper boy will find your rose bushes, red wine will find your white couch, baseballs traveling at high speed will find your living room window.  You will step in a pile, left by the toilet-training, bare-bottomed toddler, in bare feet.  It will induce an infant to spit up just as you are saying good bye in your perfectly cleaned, pressed blouse.  Raccoons will visit your garbage cans.

The dog will slip through an open gate, while you are in your underwear making the morning coffee, and will be returned to safety (and your embarrassed welcoming arms) by a handsome neighbor.  The one tube TV left on your block — your own — will break, just before the big game.  The shower will run out of hot water just as you’re rinsing the shampoo.  Milk you just bought from the grocer will sour.  You will lose the key when everyone needs to use the bathroom.

May the force not be with you.