I will explain all of this, in good time, but as I always mention, I like to focus on the positive, no matter how dismal or depressing the positive is, and/or no matter how many times someone slams their hand in their wife's car door after the third trip to the hardware store.
Anyway, I am beginning the explanation of the Amazing Disintegrating House with a how-to guide to let you, in the future, avoid troubles like this. So join me as we learn How To Turn Your Spare Bedroom Into A Walk-In Closet, In 437 Easy Steps.
Step 1: Have a spare bedroom. It's hard to turn a spare bedroom into a walk-in closet without a spare bedroom. Sure, you could go the easy way and have a walk-in closet that you decide to turn into a spare bedroom, and then retrofit it, but what kind of reality show pitch would that make? Not a very good one. I hope. You're not pitching that as a reality show, are you? Because I don't think you'd like the Hollywood lifestyle very much. Leave this to me.
Luckily, we have lots and lots of spare bedrooms, jillions practically. We have more bedrooms than we have any other rooms, depending on how you count. I count the usual way: 1, 2, 3, etc. (although I don't really say etc I just say the next number in the sequence.)
We have the bedroom Sweetie and I use, and we have the bedroom Mr Bunches and Mr F share, and we have the bedroom that isn't really a bedroom because it's downstairs on the lower level and has a door leading to the outside, so even though it was billed as a spare bedroom it's more of a spare room, and is not pertinent to this how-to article.
We also have The Boy's old bedroom, which is currently being used as a "spare toy storage room," which is a room you don't find in many of your modern (i.e. having functional wiring and garage doors) houses, but which is absolutely necessary if you have invested heavily in Hot Wheel (TM!) sets and several Mousetrap (TM!) games as part of a plan to eventually own two or three of every single toy ever made, even the weird ones. The Boy's old bedroom also smells a bit like onions. We don't know why. He moved out two years ago and he, himself, didn't particularly smell of onions so ...
...Moving on! We also have Middle Daughter's old bedroom which is the second-most converted room in our house, going from Middle Daughter's old bedroom to the boys' new bedroom (with Jungle Theme (TM!)) to unused bedroom to Mr Bunches' bedroom that he was going to use himself to the bedroom Mr Bunches and Mr F shared because even though it seemed like they didn't want to share a room they insisted on sharing a room, to unused bedroom when, three months later, we realized that if they were going to share a room we should put them back into the bigger bedroom they'd been sharing before we experimented with giving them their own rooms, to room with a cracked window we keep meaning to fix, to room where we thought the bat was hiding that one time there was a bat in the house that we never found and now that I think about it it might still be there, to room where we put a bunch of stuff we didn't have time to put anywhere else.
Middle Daughter's Old Bedroom is the room that's going to be the Walk-In Closet.
2. Have your washing machine (maybe?) catch on fire on the same day that the wiring in your house blows.
This may seem like it is an extra or unnecessary step on the route to building a walk-in closet, but who are you going to listen to, me, or some expert who will claim that neither appliance fires nor electrical disasters are part of the room-conversion process? I have over six hours in the closet-building business, many of them not spent wandering around a hardware store trying to figure out if my budget includes the ability to buy the power drill I know I'm going to need (SPOILER ALERT! It doesn't, but on the plus side I have 98% of my fingers still available for use!), and if I say this is a step, this is a step.
Here's the best possible way to integrate this step smoothly into the process:
A. Be at work, minding your own business, probably trying to figure out your fantasy football team.
B. Have your wife call you.
C. Have her say "The washing machine is smoking and there's no power in half the house," and have her then
D. Pause long enough for you to say "What?!" and then
E. Have her add "Also, I can't get the Internet to work on the computer."
Say, because you are cool this way, "Those are several very different levels of problems." Then leave work, telling the receptionist that you are going home early because:
That's how we did it, anyway, and it worked perfectly, "perfectly" being defined as "spending the rest of my Wednesday afternoon turning on various fuses and hearing how unsafe and dangerous my house is.'
I got home as quickly as I could, narrowly avoiding stopping off for a quick chocolate shake at McDonald's because it was hot, and when I got home I was relieved at first, and then disappointed, to see that there were no flames shooting out of our roof or fire engines standing on our street dampening the smoldering ashes of what used to be our house, while Sweetie and the boys were comforted by EMTs who looked nothing like Noah Wylie circa 1997.
The disappointment was because I had already realized that with the plethora* (*Latin for JESUS HOW MANY THINGS CAN GO WRONG IN A HOUSE?) of things that had gone wrong in our house in the past 2 weeks, I was going to have to move or remodel, and both of those things are expensive and time-consuming and require me to deal with bankers, who are among my least favorite people, so I had, while driving/not getting a chocolate shake because this was an emergency, come up with an alternate plan, which was to hope that Sweetie and the boys had gotten out before the fire that reduced our house to smoking rubble and then caused the insurance company to build us a nice, new house chock full of LED TVs and a couch that didn't have an outer layer made up entirely of cheese puffs.
Step 3: Call an electrician. Have him insult you for a while as you realize your house is a mess.
Arriving inside, I dealt with the problems in their order of seriousness, applying all of the skills I learned in law school.
"Where is the washer warranty?" I asked. Look, I already knew I wasn't going to be able to fix the problems, or, likely, even tell what the problem was. I would be lucky if I could correctly guess, in three tries, what room the problem was near. But I have a particular skill, and that skill is to sue my way out of any trouble, so my first thought was "find the warranty and sue someone," and after locating our original washer paperwork, which was right on top of the start-up disks I got for a computer that burnt out four years ago (maybe I'll need to re-install the printer drivers on a desktop again someday?)
Having obtained the only thing I could really do something about, I then went downstairs and looked at the washer, the most immediate source of trouble, at least in my mind.
It was not the most immediate source of trouble in Mr Bunches' mind. Mr Bunches had, from the moment I walked in the door, been informing me of the BIG problem: the TV in his room was not working. He had mentioned this to me about 17 times already, interspersed with "Dad, can you fix it?" about which: I have a policy that I try very very hard not to lie to the boys, and most of the lies I've told them in my life thus far have been limited to claiming that either Toys "R" Us or the big pool were closed, at 2 in the afternoon. That's not a big lie, I figure, that will get me in trouble with God because if God wanted me to take Mr Bunches and Mr F to Toys R Us every time they asked us to go, He'd have given us a million dollars a day. As it is, we already have a room devoted to storing the toys Mr Bunches is not currently playing with, but which do not fit in the other rooms devoted to storing toys.
Having his TV off makes Mr Bunches nervous, even frightened. He keeps it running 24 hours a day, literally, and if you go in there and switch it off, Mr Bunches will begin crying and run out of the room until you get it turned on. I know this because if Mr F doesn't like the movie they're watching, he will turn it off. I have never turned Mr Bunches' TV off. NEVER. If you ever saw Mr Bunches cry, you'd know why.
So I was faced with a few problems, then.
1. Shouldn't I really look at the washing machine which maybe was on fire because smoke doesn't usually come out of a machine whose sole purpose is to get things wet?
2. What good would I do if I did look at the washing machine? I'm a lawyer, and you can't sue a fire. (Yet.)
3. Maybe if I didn't look at the washing machine it would continue burning and we could all get out, saving only the papers we'd need to get the house rebuilt quickly and with better stuff?
4. Should I lie to Mr Bunches and tell him yes, Dad can fix it, when Dad doesn't even know what it is, yet?
I looked Mr Bunches square in the eye and said "Don't worry buddy, I will fix it." Then I turned to go upstairs and look at his TV first, bumping my head into the door that had swung a little shut behind me.
Step 4: Make sure the door is propped open!
CLICK HERE TO GO ON TO PART TWO.