The Garage (also known as Le Malaise) By Maggie Millus

I know it's somewhere in here...

I know it’s somewhere in here…


Anybody in South Florida who has a garage knows what this is about.  A garage? Just a place for parking your car?  Maybe.  It’s definitely not a cellar.  Cellars in South Florida fill up with water.  It would be like having an indoor swimming pool, albeit a dirty, disgusting one.  Probably with a few snakes and snapping turtles.  Every day I would be yelling, “Howard, there’s a snake coming up the steps!!!”  To which he would reply, “But, your mother isn’t here!” Or worse yet, he’d say, “What am I supposed to do about it!”  Then I would have to devise a way to use his underwear as a snake catcher.


As for using the garage to store things,  most people  start out light at first.  Just a few items.   You know, the car, some tools, the lawnmower, bicycles… It might even look good at first, especially if you have a $4,000  gold-plated tool box and  tile floors.   But after a while, if you live there a long time, the garage will begin to accumulate the this‘n that of past life, the things you don’t want to throw out because you are too cheap to pay for them  a second time. Or too lazy to carry them to the trash can.  Eventually, they get old and dirty and if you don’t sort and organize them, you will have a big pile of trash and your family will think you are a hoarder.


Your family will complain, “ You  need help!”  And you will reply, “Look!  We just used these tile spacers that we stashed away 10 years ago! I found them under a pile of old sweat pants and oil filters!”   And then they will get you an appointment with a shrink and put you on TV.  Now I admit there are exceptions to this accumulation issue,  like the anal neat freaks who sort every nut and screw and put them in their proper place.  If this is you, well, lucky you…


I needed a shovel the other day.  For yard work.   Not digging out the garage.  I knew the shovel was in there. Probably buried under something.  At the bottom of a pile. (Yes, we have lots of piles.) I decided I’d better look first myself, then  ask Howard where it is. If I can’t find something myself, I will have to eventually  ask, otherwise  I might never come out.  I could be in the garage for a long time, maybe even end up the subject of a missing persons alert or archeological dig.


I was hoping the shovel was in a corner, but all I saw was stuff.  Like the pressure cleaner. Not everyone has one of these.  And I can see why.  If you have the pressure valve cranked up too high, it’s hard to control.  Kind of like a fire hose.   You can blow paint off the house, concrete off the sidewalk,  and tiles off the roof.  You can even dig holes with it.  Which means I shouldn’t spend too much time looking for the shovel.  On the other hand, maybe I should wear steel-toed boots.


My foot got hung on the wheel of  Lawnmower V.  Hopefully the it’s the last in a series of unlucky mowers.   I don’t mow the yard any more.  I leave that to Howard.  He  mows tree roots, stumps, and rocks.  A mower with a bent cutting blade is like a bowlegged boarhog.  It’s  hard to move when your parts are chafing.  Maybe this mower will have better luck.


And then there are the six rolls of RU-19.  They were part of a Do-It-Myself insulation installation.  I laid out five rolls in the attic before I quit. It took me three years to lay them out.  Why was moi putting down the insulation?  Because we are cheap and the certain someone, who will not be named here, hates ladders. Why is it taking so long?  Because I refuse to get fiberglass itch more than once a year.  So the remaining rolls are still here. Waiting for the weather to cool. And for me to stop itching.


I’m  digging hard. When there’s lots of stuff, you have to dig really hard. All I want is one shovel.   I was sorting through five septic tank drainfield pipes when I saw it. The shovel?  No.  But I did find one of those hydraulic platform  carts that can hold 500 lbs .  You could move an elephant with it.  A baby elephant that is.  Maybe even a moose.   Definitely a hyena.  The moose would have to be dead, probably the hyena too. It’s hard to put thrashing legs on a small platform.  And besides, a live hyena would  cause quite a ruckus.  Almost as good as chasing chickens.   I can hear the next door neighbors complaining.


The wife: “Hey! Look over at the Millus’!”


Husband: ”Why?”


Wife: “They’re chasing a hyena around the yard.”


Husband:  “Call Animal Control!”


One advantage of having to look hard for something is that you will find a lot of other things you couldn’t find when you needed them but don’t want now.  Things like the missing eyeballs to a now-defunct piece of yard art  or  a hernia belt, which you no longer need because you found the hernia cart…


I’ve found lots of things in the garage and there are lots more I have yet to find, like the shovel.   Every now and then I think I hear a voice in the garage.  It says “Hey Maggie, want to have some fun?”  It must be the shovel.  I still haven’t found it and I have holes to dig.  Maybe I’ll use the pressure cleaner.




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