We had done the traditional Christian family Easter celebration – chocolate, baskets left by a rabbit, eating pork, hiding multicolored eggs. Oh, and a brief mention of eternal life and salvation thrown in there for good measure. It was bedtime for the Minions of Sauron, so I was rocking the Tiniest Minion in his room as he began winding down for night-night.
And I hear a Noise.
We live in a bedroom community of a suburb of a mid-major Southern city. We’re not inches away from our neighbors, but neither do we have to hike four hours to find a phone or a Mexican restaurant. So other than the occasional loud neighbor party or nuclear Armageddon, noises aren’t too common after 9 p.m.
It’s a strange Noise; it sounds a little bit like an angry wasp on steroids. It’s definitely outside the house, so that’s good; one never wants a hulked-out, pissed-off wasp flying around inside one’s house at bedtime. However, I can’t figure out what it is, so I dismiss it.
I put the Tiniest Minion to bed, and join my wife downstairs. As we settle into bed, she looks over at me.
“Did you hike to the Mexican restaurant at some point today?”
I am a bit befuddled, but honesty is always the best policy when one’s wife asks strange questions at random. “No.”
She ponders a moment in silence.
“Did you ask for a flight of propeller-driven planes to dive-bomb our house as an Easter surprise?”
I weigh my answer to this question a bit longer, because I’m beginning to think I’m in serious trouble for some reason. Finally, though, honesty wins out again: “No.”
“Then what in the world is that Noise?”
We listened a bit as the Noise waxed and waned, waxed and waned, and then waxed a whole hell of a lot. My wife is looking at me, obviously expecting me, as the male, to positively identify the Noise and then make it stop. I think about mentioning the Beefy Wasp Theory, and then discard the idea.
“Sounds like somebody working on a motorcycle engine,” I offer.
This is my wife’s cue to belittle … not only my interpretation of the Noise, but my deficient intelligence and lack of manhood.
“That’s not a motorcycle,” she announces. “That sounds like a chainsaw. I can’t believe you’d think that was a motorcycle. I can’t sleep with that Noise going on. It sounds like it’s right in our backyard. Aren’t you going to go check it out? What if there’s someone running a chainsaw in our backyard?”
I hadn’t considered the possibility of a chainsaw-weilding maniac in our yard, but now that my lovely wife has mentioned it, my mind is fixated on the image of Leatherface pruning the weeds. I don’t really want to go out there.
But a man’s gotta do, yadda yadda yadda. I open the back door, prepared to leap backwards and utter a gibbering scream of terror (in a manly manner, of course) if Leatherface lunges at me. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen. I realize the Noise is coming from the other side of the ridge behind our house, at least 300 or 400 yards away. I report this to my wife.
“So what are you going to do about it?” she asks me.
I envision a plan. I remember seeing a movie, many years ago, about these Shaolin monks who were so skilled at martial arts that they could fight off guys attacking them with swords by using only their bare hands. What they’d do, see, is they’d wait till the sword guy chopped at them with the sword, then they’d bring their palms together really fast and catch the sword between their hands in mid-chop. Then they’d snap their wrists to one side very quickly and break the sword, and they’d finish the fight by elbowing the now-diminished swordsman in the face. I can see myself carrying out this same type of manuever against the mystery chainsaw man. That’ll prove I’m manly!
So I tell my wife my plan. “I’ll hike across the ridge and get all Shaolin on his ass.”
She gazes at me pityingly. “Why don’t you just call the police and tell them we have a noise problem?”
I think about this. “Okay, but I bet they haven’t seen the Shaolin monk movie. They can’t even handle swordsmen, much less this chainsaw guy.”
So I use my manly pointer finger to dial the police. The dispatcher is less than helpful. “You’ve got a noise problem?”
“Did you or anyone in your family eat Mexican food today?”
“No. It’s coming from the ridge behind my house. We think it’s somebody running a chainsaw, but it could be a roid-raged wasp. Be sure you send somebody who’s seen the Shaolin monk movie about the swords, or at least somebody with some Raid.”
The dispatcher’s response is somewhat muffled, but I gather that she’s sending somebody to my house. It’s 10:30 now, and I don’t really want to have to wait up to let cops in. “No need to send someone here, my good woman … just tell the police to cruise the other side of the ridge behind my house. I’m sure you’ll find the culprit there.”
“Which ridge is that, sir?”
I turn and point. “That one there.” I even hold the phone receiver out as I point, so she’ll get a sense of the general direction. I can’t believe how stupid this woman is.
“The officers will be at your house in a few minutes, sir.”
Great. So my wife retreats to the bedroom, leaving me to wait up and deal with the cops when they arrive.
They show up in a commendably short period of time. The two officers appear to have recently exited puberty, but maybe they’re the only Shaolin-trained guys on the force. I explain about the Noise. Naturally, at this point, the only noise is coming from the bedroom, where my wife is sighing audibly in frustration and shame every seven seconds. I take the policemen into the back yard and point to the ridge, just like I did with the phone earlier.
And obviously, my pious observance of Easter has been well-received by God, because at that exact moment, the Noise starts again. The police listen a couple of minutes, and agree with my wife that it’s somebody running a chainsaw. “Probably from that construction site over on the highway back there,” one says. They agree to go cruise around the other side of the ridge (which is what I TOLD the dispatcher) and see if they can find the guy running a chainsaw at 11 p.m. and tell him to knock it off. I thank them, and they leave.
I go back in the bedroom and report the results to my wife. I have to speak loudly, because the Noise has intensified, as though mocking my attempts to make it stop. She’s glad the police are checking it out, but her manner clearly suggests that I am a weenie-poo in her eyes for not taking care of this myself.
So I announce I’m going to cruise around the highway back there myself, just to see if I can track the guy down. “What are you going to do if you find him?” my wife asks.
I strike the Shaolin pose I remember from the movie.
“I won’t wait up,” she responds.
So I cruise around for a while, but I don’t hear the Noise any more. The police probably got the guy to stop. I go back home, crawl into bed, and try to get to sleep while wrestling with the knowledge that my wife thinks two barely post-pubescent cops are more manly than I.
Some good came from the evening, though. I’m now working on a screenplay – “Shaolin Chainsaw Monks.” I don’t want to give away too much, but I’m envisioning a climactic scene in which the monks, rather than break the chainsaws with their hands, eat some Mexican food and then melt the chainsaws with the Blue Anus Flame.
I smell Oscar. Or Mexican food. I’m not sure which.