And if the dam breaks open many years too soon

Casa de Unbearable was ground zero for a water main break. The brown, muddy, Mississippi regurgitated up through a crack in the pavement. Thank bog it wasn’t raw sewage. Just the stuff we drink. The police arrived, traffic was blocked off and many panicked phone calls were made to New Jersey American Water.

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The neighbors all came out of their houses to watch the approaching disaster. It flowed over our curb and, with frightening speed, flooded our front yard. Mrs. Wife threw the girls in the car and raced them over to her parent’s house and stayed there. I stayed behind, although there was nothing to do but wait.

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The water slowly crept up our driveway. The race was on. Could the water company get to us and turn off the water before it started to flood inside our house? It was exciting. In the bad way.

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It only took about :20 minutes for the water to work its way up and kiss our garage door. It was just two short paces away from our front door. Just beyond our front door is our carpeted family room.

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My rare books cases are located a half-flight up. They’re not insured. I can’t afford the required appraisal. I was wondering how I was going to singlehandedly move a few hundred books to the third level. I imagined the pristine white pages all stained a brackish brown. I have a first edition of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with an India ink illustration of Hunter S. Thompson drawn by Ralph Steadman on the first free endpaper. It’s beautiful. One drop of water would send the ink running down the page. My first edition of On The Road? Pulp.

On the cusp of Armageddon a miracle occurred. The water found its saturation point at the base of my house. It stopped flowing up my front yard and changed direction. It flowed down the street to find other books to destroy. Not one single drop of water entered our house.

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16 thoughts on “And if the dam breaks open many years too soon

  1. Whew! Books are almost like babies to me. When I moved to England some of my special first editions came over on the airplane in my carry on bags. I did ship some, but on two separate trips I came back with books filling a wheeled carry on. It was a bear to lift into the overhead compartment. I’m glad yours survived unscathed.

  2. It’s a sign.Just when you think Bog has given up on you and you think you have nothing more to say to one another, she sends you a powerful message, and you realize she cares after all.Or something like that.In spite of your banishment, you live a charmed life.

  3. PG: My sentiment, exactly.HIF: I’ll take your word for it. I don’t own a shop vac and only have so many bath towels.GOTJ: You’re preaching to the choir. I’ve spent more $$$ on first editions than someone in my income bracket has a right to.Leah: Is Gog the Jewish Bog? There’s always G_d.Lori: Ya know, the whole “banishment” thing is really tongue-in-cheek. I know how magical my life is. I saw a great Broadway play last night and walked through Times Square. This morning, I had cereal with my two little girls and wife in an nice, suburban home. How’s that for having my cake and frosting?

  4. The summer after I bought my first house, it rained like Noah was building an ark. There are two pumping stations on the nearby creek and a flood gate, which work great unless there is a power outage. The water took over a main drag a block away from my nice little house and buried cars in its wake. it sloshed as far as the intersection just across and up from my house and began its menacing creep but the electric co got the power back on and within a few hours, the water was sumped away. It is exciting in that impending armageddon way though, eh?

  5. Wow. Lucky break! But why the hell weren’t you out there sandbagging?!? Aren’t you from Ohio?My poor daughter was living in a basement room last summer when the sewer backed up and flooded her room. Although she’s but 25 she had started a book collection (nothing on the scale of your rare books, mind you, but some signed copies) that has sentimental value to her. Sadly she wound up losing quite of few of those amongst other of her stuff.One must always take the flood plain into account when selecting a spot for your stuff.

  6. Dude … seriously … terrifying stuff. I was all, “Why didn’t he insure his books. Fear and loathing as well. Frigging hell. Brown stains? No!!!” Glad nothing bad occurred.

  7. Savannah: I was an apartment renter for two decades in NYC. If something went wrong, you called the Super and it was fixed when you got home from work.Daisy: I was trying to use my mental faculties to push the water away from my house. Fail.AFM: It’s a fantastic drawing. Ink splotches and all. One of a kind, for sure. Annie: That sounds awful! It IS a bit like watching a movie. Rob: We are on higher ground and this house has never seen a drop of water inside. But you can’t predict a water main break.Sid: In order to insure them I need to get an appraisal which would cost thousands of dollars. If I had an extra thousand dollars, I’d probably buy another book.Nutty: How’ve you been?! Hope your move goes well, dear. The fate of my books are in God’s hands.Ellie: It was a thriller, that’s for sure. The bad kind.

  8. Hey I have to say that was pretty good…had me on suspense. When you said there was a water main break I didn’t realize the water was in your driveway. Glad everything worked out!MT

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