Yin And Yang
As you all know, Marvelous Charles is in the throes of grad school. He attends in Madison at the illustrious University of Wisconsin. One of the main reasons for us moving from the small town in which we work, across the border to our rural place in the sun: instate tuition. At some point, say in 2-3 years (these academic time lines are strangely vague to me) he will have his PhD (which I pronounce "Fudd", as in "Elmer", because I can't help such things) in educational-something-or-other and we will only have to share him with work, running and football.
At least that's the plan.
Along the way, he's also looking into garnering his superintendent's license, so he can, well, superintend, if the right situation comes up. No one in his right mind wants to be a middle school principal all their live-long days. It's a good gig for now, but he'd like not to be doing it at the age of 60.
So, last Thursday, he trotted up to campus to have a little heart-to-heart with the Powers That Be about what he'd need to do to get his superintendent's license, in addition to his current course work, followed by his exam this fall, followed by writing his comprehensive exams (and orally defending them), then the dissertation proposal (which must be orally defended, too), and, if accepted, the actual magnum opus of dissertation and (well, naturally) the defense of such.
At the end of which will be much wine and song and fatty foods. You're all invited.
And this is where nature fell out of balance.
You see, the Powers That Be (who consisted of a nice woman with, let's hope, some authority and not one of the adjunct faculty having a laugh) told him that "things could be arranged" and they basically could wipe out his need for the 6 hour exam covering 2 courses this fall, wipe out his need for the 2 comps exams, and thought that the courses for his superintendency would fall in with his general requirements.
Bada-boom, bada-bing! More for less!!
Again, this is not in writing.
Filled with hope and light of foot, our Charles tripped merrily to the elevators of the grim cement rectangle that houses the education department and hopped aboard Elevator #1.
And, here's where Karma realigned the universe, which had tipped dangerously in his favor. Half way down from floor #13 (that would be floor #6+1/2), the elevator stopped. Thinking this was an odd thing for elevators to do, but remembering that he's heard of other elevators in the building breaking down (namely Elevator #2, the partner of Elevator #1), he was not as shocked as one might otherwise be.
He looked for a way to pry the doors open, as he's seen done multiple times on TV by grannies. Nope. No way. He looked up to see if he could escape through the panel in the ceiling, again as we know to do from the entertainment media. Not happening. Clearly, these elevators were bought on the cheap from the Houdini foundation.
Well, nothing for it but to push The Red Button at the bottom of the floor button panel. You know The Red Button: the one we've all secretly wanted to push but don't dare. The one that says "Emergency" on it. I always figured it sounded some alarm.
Before pressing The Red Button, shall we mention that the fire alarm started to go off.
So it was with no calmly beating heart that our beloved Charles punched The Red Button, suspended about 80 feet above the earth's surface in a machine that suddenly seemed less than kindly.
Shall we mention that our Marvelous Charles has a decided dislike of heights? Usually this means things like airplane flights and lookouts over ravines with flimsy guard rails, but his new predicament of being trapped in an elevator with the fire alarm sounding is not made more comfortable by being a goodly distance from the ground.
So, with a desperate pounding with his thumb, did he activate The Red Button:
"911. Do you need help?" came the disembodied voice from the panel.
"Oh, yes. Please."
"Are you in Elevator 1?"
"Shall we come and get you out?"
"That'd be nice. And the fire alarm is sounding. Is there a fire?"
"Not to my knowledge, but someone will be there in about 15 minutes."
Longest damn 15 minutes of his life, and this is a man who's played several seasons of rugby, has administered a middle school and taken weapons off 'children' who've outweighed him by several stone, not to mention faced down armed, pissed parents. He routinely diffuses enraged custodial staff, lunch ladies, bus drivers and secretaries with aplomb. He has yet to be poisoned by the head of the teacher's union. This, in short, is a man with no little courage.
He has also, in younger days, broken up an altercation consisting of 20 snow ball throwing youths and a really cranky old man by asserting his presence and authority. He may have also uttered the phrase, "Excuse me!! Can I help? I'm an undercover narcotics agent." (Phrase said in a booming voice that caused all involved to either hop back into his Lincoln Town Car or scurry back to their respective houses.) We may mock Marvelous Charles but we do not doubt his courage and resourcefulness.
But, in the end, many members of the fire dept came. They had quite a difficulty getting the doors open, but he did get to climb out through the doors and jump the 5 feet to the solid floor and not have to be hoisted out the roof, a la Hollywood.
And there was no actual fire, thank goodness, but one of the firefighters noted that he smelled smoke, likely from evil Elevator #1, just having another laugh at the expense of one of those punk college kids.
So, all's well and so forth.
Will The Powers That Be keep her word? Will the misfortune of having been trapped in the elevator assure that the good things discussed in the preceding meeting will come to pass? Will Marvelous Charles ride in another elevator again or will he forever more climb the 13 flights of stairs to his classes? Will this generalize to a more universal distrust of elevators in general?
Time will tell, but the next day he decided to start living life to the fullest, starting with breakfast:
These here are the best donuts known to man. They are a chocolate yeast dough, filled with this... this...I can barely describe it with any adequacy: a cross between freshly made whipped cream and custard tasting strongly of vanilla, not too sweet. It is topped with thick, very chocolate frosting, again, not too sweet. The good from the bad.
Labels: Marvelous Charles