I won’t bore everyone with the whole story of how I ended up standing on a precariously propped-up stepladder holding a Roman shade with a tension rod stuck in it. Suffice it to say that I have a bad kitty who destroys miniblinds, and I had to hang something cat-proof on my bedroom window, or risk becoming free entertainment for every Peeping Tom in the neighborhood. End of backstory.
There are two possible ways of doing things: (1) my way and (2) the right way. Unfortunately, I chose to install the new shade my way.
It didn’t take too long to figure out how to put the shade together. The directions were written by an illiterate 2nd grader and the illustrations looked like they were drawn backward, so I just kind of held the thing up, pulled things, and folded other things until something worked. Then the easy part was over.
Getting my old stepladder into position was harder. I had to move a chair and a large suitcase, which was between the bed and the window. I finally got everything out of the way and wedged the stepladder into position. There wasn’t enough room between the bed and the wall to completely open the ladder. It could only sit there in half-open position, laughing and daring me to get on it.
A normal person would have moved the head of the bed over to make more room. I am not normal. I picked up the shade with the tension rod in it and started to climb the half-open ladder, which was held in place by the bed on one side and the floor-level radiator on the other.
There is something about me and ladders. I am not afraid of heights, but I have a phobia of falling. I am not the kind of person you want to ask to change a lightbulb in a ceiling fixture. Even stepladders can give me the heebeejeebees. The way this one was set up, half-open and right next to the wall, I had nothing to grab hold of and I felt as if I had nowhere to lean but backward — which is what happened when I lifted my arms to try to adjust the tension rod with a shade hanging from it onto the window.
I fell backward, onto the center of my bed. I sank into the sweet softness of the memory foam mattress and lay there, not moving. I had scraped the back of my right ankle against something or other, so I elevated the leg to give my defective veins a chance to send some blood circulating out of there and kill the pain. There I was, holding a Roman shade, lying on my back with my right leg stuck up in the air, not wanting to move for the rest of my life. I wondered if it was worth it to go through all this trouble, with all the end-time predictions that are being dragged up all over the place. If we were going to be sucked into oblivion in the next several months, who was going to care if my bedroom window had a Roman shade on it or not?
After about five minutes of this, I turned over and struggled off the bouncy mattress. Anyone who has ever tried to get off a high, thick memory foam mattress knows that this is not easy when you have been lying on your back with your foot in the air. I stood up, looked at the stepladder and said, “Okay. I give you one more chance. Do that again and I’ll break you up into bonfire kindling, you half-sized bastard!”
Again, I stepped onto the ladder, this time chanting a mantra: “Leanforwardleanforwardleanforward oops! Shutupleanforwardleanforwardleanforward … .” That must have worked, because I managed to stay upright, even if I was wobbling like the top of a bobblehead doll. After a lot of twisting and maneuvering, I got the shade up and in place.
One careful step at a time, I got off the ladder and looked up to admire my work before I tested it. The ladder just stood there, not saying anything. I gave the shade a pull to make sure it was secure. It came tumbling down like the walls of Jericho. I had not made the tension rod tight enough.
I picked up the shade, gave the ladder an it’s-me-or-you look, and, once more, climbed up, to the accompaniment of the same mantra as before. I went through the whole f*@%(!& procedure again. This time I made that blasted rod so tight I was surprised it didn’t punch holes in the plaster. After I was safely on the floor again, I pulled the cord on the shades. They stayed put this time.
“Thank you,” I said to the shade, for no good reason. I just felt like it.
I lifted the ladder out from behind the bed and put it in the middle of the bedroom floor. “You got away with things this time,” I said. “But I’m keeping an eye on you. One more misstep, and I’ll buy a hatchet!”
I put the suitcase and the chair back in place, put the stepladder back into the storage room, and took a really deep breath.