Monday, March 28, 2011

Man vs Chimney: A Love Story

I hate doing the laundry as much as a married man can. I know my wife hates laundry as well. I'm not trying to corner the market on laundry hatred or anything. Just trying to assert how much I detest doing it.

Perhaps it's because despite all of mom's instructions on how wearing clothes doesn't necessarily mean they need washing, I just can't wear something that's been worn matter how short a period of time it's been worn for.

Thus, the same treatment is given a t-shirt I put on on my way over to the pool as would be given to a t-shirt I wore while chimney sweeping.

OK, I don't really chimney sweep, but I wanted a really good example of a dirty shirt and that's as good a one as I could think of. As an aside, I met a chimney sweep once. I was home from college on summer vacation and for some reason wasn't going to work. I mean, I was going to work that summer, but not that day. I'm not that much of a deadbeat.

My parents scheduled this dude to come over and sweep the chimney. "All you have to do is let him in."

Yeah. Famous last words.

This guy shows up a top hat and tails - straight out of Mary Poppins. I let him in in the manner of a 21 year old guy at 8am....I grunt and tell him "fireplace is me if you need anything". Oh no. He accuses me of not taking my chimney safety seriously and threatens to leave unless I come down and have a dialog with him about the chimney. Now at this point, I'm ready to tell this guy to stuff his broom up his rear end, but I fear my dad way too much, so I accompany him downstairs. He pulls out his mirror and looks up the chimney...alternately smiling and shaking his head. He turned with a Law and Order courtroom twirl and pounced: "Has this chimney ever been swept before?"

I wake up from my grog. "Er...I don't think so."

"Well how OLD is this fireplace???"

"I don't know. About 10 years I guess."


Well, at this point, I think he's going to call the other sweeps in the area and give my dad and I a good ass kicking. He practically demands that I get one of my parents on the phone so he can verbally ream them.

"This should be done every six months! You could start a fire from all this buildup." Of course, I'm wondering what the heck is the danger of a fire in a fireplace, but he continues on about masonry fires and soot and all kinds of horrors. After about 30 minutes, he finally throws me a softball...

"When you burn a fire, do you burn it hot and big?"

"Yes SIR we CERTAINLY do!" And we did. I myself always made sure to ramrod enough wood in there to warm the stuff we had in the freezer. I didn't want to haul my cookies to the hearth every half hour much less the woodpile.

"Well, at least that's something." He gruffed. He seemed to calm down a bit. Huh. Good for me.

So then he starts in {still in his top hat, even though we're indoors} trying to sell me these fire extinguishing flares in case we get a chimney fire. My brain is still half asleep, but using the sheer willpower and genuine indifference, I convince him that I am not in charge. I mean, come on dude, I'm in joe boxer pj bottoms and a "Don't F with Mr. Zero" t-shirt." I have a near fatal case of bedhead. Do I look like I'm the decision maker of this house?

"Can't you just sweep the chimney?" I give him my best look of desperation. (I'm sure many of my dates have seen this look in subsequent years.)

He shakes his head in disgust, but goes to work. I can identify. This dude is in sales. I had to do that once. He didn't increase his margin at all with any add-ons. That's a bummer. I'm sure he figured a half-a-sleep rube like myself would probably order a "chimney massage" and a "lefthanded smoke shifter". No luck dude.

Of course, as he starts cleaning, I have to remain awake and he continues to narrate everything he's doing for the entire 45 minutes or so. It's like a bad episode of "A Personal Story" and you've lost the damn remote. When he's done, I have to sign off on a 25 point checklist that basically says he cleaned the chimney and I also have to admit that I'm stupid and that I'm sorry I haven't had my chimney swept in 10 years etc.. etc...

Now that I'm a grown up, I've solved this problem by having a gas fireplace that doesn't need sweeping. At least, I don't think it does. Does it? Does anyone know? 


  1. But what about the laundry?! ;P

  2. That's what I was going to say, uawildcatgirl! Some people just can't stay on point. Sheesh. So, Mr. L-long-A-very, will you blogging regularly or is this just you being a tease again? I laughed frequently while reading this and I am in desperate need of more laughs in my life. So help a girl out, will ya?

  3. @uawildcatgrl: What can I say...short attention span? But you knew that.

    @A Freakin Angel: I'm gonna do the best I can. I used to blog for a decent audience and as you probably know, feedback makes you want to blog more. We'll see if I can generate any interest in my nonsense.

  4. I think it doesn't need to be swept :)