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The first thing that everyone needs to know is that I hate smoke detectors. I know they probably save 50 billion lives a year, and they’re the best thing to happen to safety in America since seat belts, but I still hate them. Why? It’s simple. They irritate me.

The first problem with smoke detectors is that they must be installed on ceilings. If someone would invent a floor-mounted smoke detector, I’d be fine with them. But there’s an issue with anything in my house that’s on (or near) the ceiling: I am short – really short – and I can’t reach it. The second problem with smoke detectors is that – in general – they go off as a result of MY every day activities: cooking with oil, starting fires in the fireplace without remembering to open the flue, etc. My husband's every day activities (sitting in the recliner, eating the food I have cooked, asking me if I got the mail) don't set the dang things off.

The third problem with smoke detectors is that they always seem to go off when no one else is home, leaving me with a kitchen filled with smoke and a dreadful shrieking noise that I can’t stop. Usually the dog starts howling and the phone rings at the same time. Often the UPS man, who must lie in wait just around the corner from my house, takes this as his signal to barrel up the driveway, needing a signature, as well. In short, smoke detectors irritate me because they cause chaos in my life. I don’t know why everyone can’t see it this way.

In particular, I don’t know why JIM can’t see it this way. But he doesn’t. 

So, this is the second thing everyone needs to know: Jim has a different perspective than I do. Jim grew up in a rural area, where many people lived in wooden houses which were heated with wood or coal. Devastating fires happened to people he actually knew. I grew up in a city. People lived in brick houses. House fires were something you’d hear about on the news or in the paper occasionally. The message I got as a kid was, don’t play with matches, turn your Christmas tree lights off, and all will be well.

Nevertheless, as soon as smoke detectors were invented my first husband and I went out and got a couple, and installed them. This lasted until the first time one went off (probably about two days later) at which point I smashed it to smithereens with a broom handle. He was a bit perturbed by that, but simply replaced it. After I smashed the second one, he got more testy. I – happily – got smart, and as soon as he replaced THAT one and left the room, I climbed up on a chair and took the battery out of it. So that worked for many years – I lived in houses with sturdily-installed smoke detectors none of which had batteries. Fortunately, my first husband was the sort of man who would forget about things. Like why the batteries in our smoke detectors lasted for nine years – that sort of thing. I don’t think he ever figured it out.

Well, that didn’t work with Jim. Jim checks things like smoke detector batteries. He has this schedule – every year on New Year’s Day, he goes around and changes batteries. The first time he did that and found every one of the smoke detectors sans battery, he was pretty shocked. My very reasonable explanation: that I’m short and they irritate me – didn’t really go very far with him. He put it succinctly: “You screw with the smoke detectors again, I’ll bust your ass.” He didn’t actually say “screw,” he said something else, but you get the picture.

So – for many years now – I’ve lived in this uneasy state of truce with the smoke detectors. I still hate them, they still irritate me, but for many years, I’ve coped. Until last weekend.

We have moved recently, and many of things we'd like to do at our new home, like putting a cover on part of the deck, haven't been done yet. There's no place to provide cover for a grill, so we just keep it in the garage. When we cook out , we just push the grill out onto the driveway. Last weekend, it was raining very hard, and I wanted to cook steaks. So I pushed the grill barely to the front of the attached garage, and fired it up.

This house is completely equipped with fancy and sensitive smoke detectors, including one IN the garage, a fact I was unaware of. (Come to think of it, who puts smoke detectors in the garage?  It’s cement, right?)  Regardless, someone had and this one, being a sensitive model and only about four feet from the "fire," was going off full force within seconds – followed very quickly by the one in the “mother-in-law suite” which is above the garage. At this moment in time, the steaks also actually did burst into flames and the dogs - who seem to think that the smoke detector is a fellow wolf - started howling like coyotes. Actually, two of the dogs started howling like coyotes. The third dog was terrified and tried to stand in between my legs. Which was difficult because I was running around and he is not a small dog.

It hadn’t been a good day on a lot of fronts, and I basically lost it. (The only thing missing was the UPS man. I am sure he would have been there, right on smoke-detector schedule, but it was Sunday.) 

Jim has guns. You may be wondering why this is relevant, so I’ll tell you. The other thing our new house is equipped with is a pond. Our pond has a “stand pipe” with a “cover.” (I don’t know why.) From time to time, when he’s bored, Jim goes out on the deck and shoots at the cover on the stand pipe with a pellet gun. This apparently is “fun.” 

So – set the scene in your mind. My steaks are burning, two smoke detectors are shrieking into the night so loudly that I’m sure the neighbors will be calling 911, the dogs are barking… and the gun is sitting right there. I mean, come on. It was a no-brainer. I simply picked up the pellet gun, intending to blast the smoke detector in the garage into little (quiet) pieces. 

Jim saw me walking into the garage with the pellet gun and immediately became somewhat concerned. (“Somewhat concerned” is a euphemism, unfortunately.) To be more exact, he went ballistic. I guess the sight of one’s wife armed in the house is troubling, or something.

“Real” spankings are mostly a thing of the past for me. But – as I found out last Sunday evening – “mostly” and “completely” are two different things. I was – ahem – relieved of the gun in short order. He then calmly turned off the grill, turned off the two smoke detectors, saved the steaks, got the dogs to shut up (no, he didn’t shoot them) and then took me up to our bed room, where he, also calmly and deliberately, put me over the bed and spanked my bare ass with the paddle he made me when we first met. The one with the waffle pattern.

One forgets, sadly, when one is mostly playing happy little spanky games, how much a REAL spanking hurts. Particularly delivered by a large and angry (though calm) man. And spankings that begin with me not in the frame of mind to receive one can be particularly intense. I mean, friends, look at it from my point of view, OK? What did I really do? What was the ACTUAL crime? I walked from Point A to Point B (about twelve feet) with a gun in my hand. (Which was not loaded, I feel compelled to point out, so my “big plan,” if you can call it that, would not even have worked.) However, this argument really did not cut it with Jim. 

So the outcome was that I got spanked, good and hard. He said a lot of things about intent and poor attitude and guns in the house. I came around to his way of thinking eventually, which I will type here for you: Smoke detectors are our friends. Smoke detectors save lives. Women who tamper with smoke detectors WILL get their butts busted. And one other thing: Waffle paddles leave waffle patterns on bare skin. 

Just thought you’d all want to know.