Editor’s note: Carmine Santa Maria’s beloved sister died this week at the age of 93. Sadly, Carmine was unable to complete this edition’s instant classic. In its stead, we offer a Classic Carmine — one many say was his best ever. Enjoy, and remember that Carmine will be back next week.
I’m madder than a Titanic survivor who choked on an ice cube and fell in a puddle, where he was promptly struck by lightning and bit by a malarial mosquito over the fact that water safety just isn’t a priority at some hotel bathrooms in this country.
Now, you all know that long before Ol’ Screecher started using his trusty Tornado to get from point A to point C, he used to be a lifeguard — and if it weren’t the split-second decision-making skills I honed during my summers at the pool, and my commitment to writing this column, I very well may have drowned in a hotel bathroom.
Here’s how last week’s screech almost became my last:
This story starts when my lovely wife Sharon and I traveled to Atlantic City to celebrate our 45th anniversary at our favorite casino — and arrived to find our usual room booked by St. Patrick’s Day crowds.
So they bumped us to a beautiful suite that was unfortunately two buildings away (allow me to digress: my svelte wife recently developed severe gout, tremendously hindering her walking ability, and leading me to ask the following question — why haven’t our nation’s eggiest eggheads invented a sidecar for Tornado so Sharon can hitch a ride? Think about it!).
After the arduous trip to the substitute suite, I was relieved to see it had a gigantic shower, but it was missing one thing: a shower stool.
So the Ol’ Screecher phoned housekeeping — specifically mentioning the need for a sturdy piece of equipment that could hold 300-plus pounds. Rather than heed the call, they dragged up a puny, standard-size stool common at most hotels, and, in a rare lapse of judgment, I figured it might not buckle under my weight.
I was wrong.
Nature awoke me at 6:30 am the next day, and with Sharon still asleep, I hopped on Tornado and rolled through the living room to the shower. I left my trusty steed and yanked open the surprisingly heavy glass door, stepped into the shower, and reached for the handicap safety bars — which I then realized did not exist.
There was just a single faucet knob to regulate the water, a door handle, and two tiny corner shelves that could hold a bar of soap or a washcloth but not a man of my stature.
All I could do was put my faith in the rickety little stool.
So I did what I always do: I dragged the rubber safety mat over the drain and created a four-inch deep wading pool filled with soapy water, draped a towel over the stool, and got as comfortable as I could.
With the washcloth in one hand and the soap bar in the other, I washed my hair first (Cosmo, my hairstylist, warned me never to shampoo my hair but use soap because it becomes more manageable). I bathed myself same as I always do until I got to my ankles, feet, and toes — which is when things went horribly wrong.
As I reached down, I felt myself swaying and realized the stool was crumbling under my weight and sinking into the soapy depths.
That’s when my lifeguard training helped me spring into action: I reached out and grabbed the shower door handle with my right hand and my cane with my left hand, but the vessel was still going under, and the captain — your very own Screecher — was going down with the ship.
I thought of screaming for help, but Sharon can sleep through anything — even the desperate last shouts of her dying husband succumbing to his sudsy bathroom tomb.
I thought of all of the readers who would miss this column if I went out like a beached whale in Atlantic City — and all those lives I could save if I got the message out there: don’t trust puny shower stools.
There was only one way out. And that was on my own two legs.
So I used my cane to pull myself into a standing position and got back on Tornado before the inconceivable happened, saving the Screecher.
I didn’t tell Sharon about it until after breakfast because I didn’t want to ruin her appetite, but when she looked in the bathroom and saw the crushed remains of the shower stool her screams almost shattered the glass!
Screech at you next week!
©2014 Community News Group
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