I apologize for the lack of pictures in this one. I didn't remember my camera for reasons that will be clear by the time you finish reading. I did take a bunch of pictures with my phone, but since it is a stupid piece of crap they got deleted somehow. The videos survived, so I put a couple of them on here. So here's a bunch of words:
I don’t know how much I really have to write about this, but that usually ends up meaning 3,000 words or more.
I’ve mentioned before that one of the bands I have never seen but would really like to is NOFX. I may hate their politics and a lot of their songs might suck, but they’re one of my favorite punk bands for some reason. Every time they’ve come to Atlanta some circumstance has kept me from going to the show. Whether I’ve been working or sick or out of town or whatever, the timing has just always been wrong.
But then a couple of months ago I got my regular e-mail from The Masquerade and saw that NOFX was playing there on February 1st. I checked my work schedule, saw that I was working the next night and called Mrs. Troublemaker to see if we could get a sitter – meaning her mom because that’s pretty much the only person we trust with our son. Her mom wasn’t available, but my wife is pretty awesome so she told me to go without her. So I bought a ticket immediately. The only conflict was that Finntroll was also playing that night, but that was at The Masquerade as well. I figured I could talk my way into that show after NOFX if they were still playing.
As the big day approached I admit that I got a little nervous. My family is no stranger to poorly timed calamity, and there was also the ever-present possibility that I would receive a call to come into work that I couldn’t turn down.
But Tuesday morning came, Mrs. Troublemaker went to work and I stayed home for Father-Son day; which unfortunately usually involves Lil’ Troublemaker taking a six hour nap when I’d rather him be awake so we can hang out.
It’s the funniest thing – I can fall asleep on a dime (is there a better expression for that?), but Mrs. Troublemaker is not any kind of good sleeper. She has trouble getting to sleep at night and trouble staying that way once she does. Our son has a tendency to follow the trait of whichever parent he is with. If he’s with my wife he may not even take a nap during the day and will sometimes be up until 1 AM. If I’m hanging out with him he’ll take this massive mid-day nap and then got to sleep by 11 PM. Mrs. Troublemaker says it’s because I’m boring, but I say it’s because I’m relaxed.
So me and Lil’ Troublemaker watched Spongebob and played with his Spongebob toys for a little while ( he is very coordinated with his media and playtime) until he inevitably fell asleep. I didn’t feel much like going down into the frigid Man Room, so I stayed upstairs in the bedroom to watch some Doctor Who (“The Face of Evil” – featuring Tom Baker and the delectable Louise Jameson).
It was cold and rainy outside and I was determined to relax all day, so me and Otis (our boxer; who I may have mentioned before as being the very best dog in the world) were laying on the bed, watching TV. I noticed Otis’ head popping up from time to time, but I assumed it was due to somebody walking by the house.
Unfortunately, when I got up to go to the bathroom at one point I discovered the real reason. When I stepped on the bathmat, it squelched under my foot. I hadn’t taken a shower yet, so there was absolutely no reason the floor should be wet. But the bathmat had a big, soaked spot. Right under the fan. Otis had been hearing the drips hitting the floor.
If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you are familiar with The Flood. If not, the entire downstairs of our home got flooded out in September of 2009. Also, our roof started leaking and we had to get that replaced after a massive fight with State Farm – allegedly the shittiest insurance company on the planet. We’re still paying for everything and have yet to replace the carpet in the Man Room and my office. I honestly don’t know if I ever will. Our home seems waterproof now, but how can I trust it?
Needless to say, our family has severe issues with rainfall; particularly when it is coming into our house.
Which, looking up at the exhaust fan in the bathroom, I saw that it was. Not pouring or even drizzling, but persistent drips that were slowly but unavoidably soaking our bathroom. I was very close to losing my mind right then. But I didn’t. I did, however, realize at that point that I was very likely going to miss NOFX yet again. I think my irritation at that is what got my mind off of all of the horrible possibilities of yet another flood and allowed me to handle things like a rational human being who is capable of dealing with things like leaks in the roof. Which, clearly, I am not.
I called my wife at work and asked her if you can wash bath mats. I’ve always just bought new ones when they get too dirty. I tried to wash some once and they just fell apart. She said you could, but then realized what I was asking and inquired as to why I needed that information. I told her what was going on and, as always, she tried to convince me that it wasn’t anything unusual and probably wasn’t that big a deal. That’s what we do for each other in times of crisis. When one of us is freaking out, the one can usually calm the other one down.
I’m not going to say I was calm after that phone call, but I was able to go downstairs and get a bucket to put under the dripping fan and not think too much of it. I knew I couldn’t go up in the attic until my wife got home and could hang out with Lil’ Troublemaker, so me and Otis finished watching “The Face of Evil”.
Once Mrs. Troublemaker did get home, I realized I was actually going to have to go up in the attic.
Which brings me to another point. I fucking hate attics. If I could have bought a house without an attic, I would have gladly done so. At a premium. Attics are filthy, dark, disgusting places where nobody should ever go. There are spiders and insulation and inadequately supportive 2x4s all over the place. I bet every single person reading this knows somebody who has fallen or stepped through their ceiling. I hate our attic. And it knows it. Sometimes I can feel its smug superiority as I walk under the access hatch. It knows that every once in awhile I am going to have to go up there, if only to spray for bugs.
Which I do have a method for. Twice (sometimes thrice) a year I go to Home Depot and buy one of those jugs of Ortho Home Defense with the spray nozzle attached to it. While the family is out of the house, I spray the exterior and then the interior; all around the perimeter and vents or whatever. Then I pull down the attic stairs, climb to the next-to-top step and spray whatever is left all over the attic as far as the sprayer shoots. I rotate awkwardly on the step as I do this, ensuring sufficient coverage. Or at least as sufficient as I am willing to get. My method seems to work fairly well, because we only get bugs every once in awhile. It is also advantageous in that instead of paying Orkin or Cooke’s or somebody a grand or so a year, I spend approximately fifty dollars. Granted, I just spend the difference on toys and movies, but shut up.
So. I knew a trip to the attic was inevitable, but I thought maybe a little reconnaissance by my wife could save me the trip. It was possible that she would go up there and not see anything wrong. Then we could leave the bucket where it was and call somebody in the morning. Naturally that didn’t happen. The Missus reported back that there was water dripping down the vent connection from the outlet to the exhaust fan and that the connection had come loose at the fan. I supposed I would have to do something.
My first step was to don my all-purpose work clothes. This consists of a pair of jeans that are too tight and an old t-shirt, with a belt pulled way too tight so that bugs can’t crawl into my pants. Granted, they could easily get in through the pant legs, but at least then I would have time to disrobe and jump out a window or something before they ate my penis or crawled into my ass.
Our attic truly is a place of horror. It looks like an attic from an old Hammer movie. There are ancient-looking spider webs hanging from the rafters, which makes no sense because the whole place was cleaned out and re-insulated a year ago. There is no light up there, save what comes up through vents; and that only makes it look spookier. Because you know when the ghost of the Japanese girl that was murdered up there comes to get me, it’s going to come from behind those diffuse shafts of light.
So I got my heavy-duty flashlight and one of those utility buckets that homeless people use as drums and went up there.
It was pretty much as awful as I had thought it would be. The spider webs loomed large overhead, occasionally brushing my neck and getting stuck in my hair. The flashlight beam seemed to illuminate only about two feet in front of me and was no wider than that. The vent, naturally, was right under the edge of the roof, so I had to crawl on my hands and knees to inspect it. Not like you would normally crawl, either. There is no floor in our attic, so I had my knees balanced on adjacent rafters and was gripping the right one with my hand while attempting to scare potential insectile attackers away with the flashlight in my left hand. I finally found a semi-secure position to inspect the vent and settled in to look. The vent connector had completely separated from the vent and there was water dripping down the outside of it. The only solution I could think of was to put the connector – one of those foil accordion-type things – in a bucket and hope it didn’t fill up before somebody who wasn’t entirely construction-impaired could come out and charge us $800 to fix whatever was wrong. I managed to maneuver the connector into one of the homeless people drums, but there wasn’t enough space under the eaves to allow it to stand up(that’s how tight a space I was in). I yelled for the Missus to bring me a smaller bucket, but she was somewhere else and didn’t hear me. So I yelled again much, much louder because there was no way I was going to get out of this hellish spot and then return. Whatever I was going to do was going to be done then or never.
She finally heard me and went to get the bucket I had requested, returning a couple of seconds later and tossing me another of the large buckets. I just about lost my mind. I had been in this deplorable position for several minutes at this point, and while I am not claustrophobic; I am extremely stuck-in-the-attic phobic. She told me to calm the hell down and tossed up the smaller bucket. She just thought I might need a big one to dump water in or something.
In the process of putting the connector into the new bucket I pulled it completely off of the roof connection, but I really didn’t give a shit. It just made my job easier. Without that thing to deal with, I simply put the bucket under the outlet and wriggled back out of the awful spot I had been in.
Another issue with our attic is the insulation. Due to State Farm allegedly being complete cock-gobblers, we had no choice but to get that cheap, shitty insulation that they blow in with a giant hose. You know, the particulate stuff. So every time you move up there a giant cloud of dust and God knows what else puffs up directly into your mouth and nose. And no, I didn’t wear one of those face filter things because when I do my glasses fog up and I can’t see and falling through the ceiling or crawling directly into a nest of tarantulas would be much worse than a few coughs.
So I hacked my way back to the attic stairs and made my way down, trailing about twenty pounds of loose insulation with me. Mrs. Troublemaker was good enough to vacuum that up.
At this point I knew I had done everything within my limited abilities to keep water out of the house. I just didn’t feel too good about the thought of leaving to go to a stupid concert. All kinds of things were going through my head – what if the bucket filled up and overflowed? What if it got too heavy for the ceiling (which had a big water spot by the vent so had obviously already been weakened) and fell through? What if the roof simply exploded off of the house? Okay, maybe that last one was ridiculous, but I felt the first two were possible if unlikely. It would be one thing if they happened with two parents home; one to watch Lil’ Troublemaker and one to handle the problem. Issues like that are another thing entirely when only one person is there.
At one point Mrs. Troublemaker volunteered to go up on the roof and put a bucket over the exhaust pipe. This is clearly one of the most insane things that has ever been suggested. Neither of us is the most graceful creature on the planet. After falling off the roof of our old house a few years ago I’m not even allowed on roofs anymore and my wife can’t walk through the family room without running into the couch. Neither of us had any business crawling around on a wet roof in the middle of the night.
Eventually she convinced me that nothing was likely to happen and that even if it did I was hardly any more qualified than she was to handle it. Plus I really, really wanted to see NOFX.
So I took a shower, got dressed, told everybody good night and headed downtown.
The drive was pretty shitty. It was still raining out and the highway was dark; one of those nights where you can’t quite make out where the lines marking the lanes are. I decided I would take an alternate route back home.
It was pouring rain when I got to The Masquerade parking lot. I felt bad for the guy taking the money, so I didn’t begrudge him the two bucks he skimmed off me. I didn’t even take a ticket. After parking in what could easily be considered a miraculously close spot (the parking lot attendant and the ID guy both informed me the show was sold out) I pulled my hood up and quickly made my way to the door. There was no sound coming from Heaven and I asked the ID guy if NOFX had played yet. He said they should be going on in the next five minutes or so. That is some fortunate friggin’ timing as far as I’m concerned. I didn’t really care about any of the opening bands (I rarely do nowadays), but I didn’t want to miss any of NOFX’s set.
I stopped in Purgatory to get some cash and a Michelob Ultra (still on the Atkins and down twenty pounds!) and then went upstairs, where NOFX started playing almost immediately. As shitty as the preceding few hours had been, I felt pretty damned good at that point.
The show was great. I’ve got the live CD NOFX released years ago and it is one of my favorite albums; maybe my very favorite live album. The band lived up to that Tuesday night. It’s rare that a band can entertain me as much with material I haven’t heard as they can with old favorites, but that’s what happened. They have a whole lot of personality on stage and – to my untrained ear, at least – are very tight musically. I mean, for a punk band.
The only letdown was that they didn’t play “Bob”; but I did get to hear “Linoleum”, “Stickin’ In My Eye” and “The Brews”. I also got to hear Heaven filled to capacity with white kids sing every single word of “Kill All the White Men” and that shit is hilarious.
I did get bummed out at one point. I was already feeling kind of old for staying in the back. As I told a friend of mine – I have a very low tolerance for punker sweat. So I was towards the back (as you can tell from my shitty-looking cell phone videos) when I detected the unmistakable scent of marijuana. I’m not saying I was jealous of the snotty, young, little responsibility-free fuckers in front of me for their ability to wantonly disregard the law or any possibility of a career-ending drug test and partake of a little recreational drug use; but maybe I am. Just a little. Not that I would ever do anything like that.
As the show picked up I made my way back to the merch stand as was shocked to discover that the prices were reasonable. Like, stupid reasonable. I was expecting $25 to $30 dollar t-shirts like you see at every rock show now (and had not been planning on buying one), but when I saw this shirt for fifteen bucks I had to get it:
Not to mention the short list of tour dates for the Southern “With-Drawl” tour on the back. I also ended up buying the NOFX: Backstage Passport DVD. I watched it when it was on TV and it was great. The home release has a couple hours of bonus features and wasn’t going to be cheaper anywhere else.
Take that, you little potheads. Some of us can buy all the merch we want. Fuckers.
The band only played for a little over an hour, but I was thoroughly entertained the whole time. I felt like I got my money’s worth.
It had stopped raining while I was inside, so the drive home was uneventful. I got home to find Mrs. Troublemaker asleep on the floor of the living room and my son laying next to her watching Tom & Jerry (which is currently competing with Scooby-Doo to be his favorite). I went back to the bathroom to wash the stink of smoke and club off of me. Mrs. Troublemaker was up when I got out, attempting to put our tired son to bed. I laid down with him to watch cartoons while she got her bedtime stuff together, then went downstairs to upload the video I had taken. At the time I thought it looked too shitty to post, but I obviously changed my mind.
See? 3,200 words. What the hell.
Until next time, stay creepy,