When I moved in with BR four years ago, I was 31 and he was 39. Overnight I went from 600 square feet of normal to 6000 square feet of totally bonkers. Let me sum it up for you:
– spooky, almost menacing-looking mansion way down at the bottom of a ravine.
– creaky, unreliable funicular to take you up to street level.
– scary grotto (if I ever go missing, please look there).
– unfinished moat, accentuated by pylons and caution tape.
– ferocious poodles
– lots of cameras, lots of codes, lots of buttons, lots of Star Wars paraphernalia.
Me: BR, what was the point of building that grotto underneath the pool? I’ve never seen you use it. And I will definitely never use it because it’s basically just a dark, scary underground cave. With water in it.
BR: Blondie, I started that project before you moved in and my plan was to fill it full of Playboy models. But then you came along, so now that dream is basically ruined.
Me: Oh. Sorry.
So the house was big, and it was a little scary. But more importantly, I literally couldn’t work anything in the house. BR is one of those techie geniuses who likes to keep anything with buttons just beyond the realm of normal human understanding. And I am naturally terrible when it comes to working anything with buttons. So things that I used to take for granted like “lights” and “television” and “doors” had now become these weird obstacles that were getting in the way of daily functioning. For the first couple of days I was actually locked inside the house. And do you know what it feels like to be locked inside your house for two days? It feels like you have early-onset dementia.
Me: How do I turn on the music in here?
BR: See that panel on the wall? You have to touch the stars in a very specific order to get access into the system. DO NOT TELL ANYONE THE SECRET STAR CODE. Then you have to click on the room you want to play music in. Then blah blah blah press this button, blah blah blah press another four buttons, blah blah buttons, buttons, buttons. AGAIN, DO NOT TELL ANYONE THE SECRET STAR CODE.
Me: Umm, it’s ok, I think I’ll just not listen to any music right now. Or probably ever.
The house is full of codes and I literally can’t remember any of them. Except for the wine cellar. That one I’ve memorized. You will often find me down there curled up in the fetal position, clutching a bottle…
I remember the first time BR left me alone in the house to go away on business. I decided I was going to watch TV. So I grabbed all four remotes and my page and a half of notes on how to turn the television on, and tried to follow everything I had written down step-by-step. I obviously did something wrong because the screen went blank and a message flashed across it that said:
IF EXPERIENCING TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES CALL ENGINEER (phone number)
So I began to dial the number and then I was like, wait a minute, this is his number! And I just tried calling him about something unrelated and he didn’t answer! And now I’m alone in a big spooky house with no comforting background noise and I would consider reading a book but I can’t work the lights in the bedroom! And do you know what it feels like to not be able to work the lights in your bedroom? It feels like you have early-onset dementia!
Me: BR, when are you going to show me how to work the lighting system? I just barely know the basics.
BR: Blondie, you only have level-one security clearance. Therefor you are only entitled to know basic lights.
Me: Um, ok. How many security levels are there?
BR: Six. And I am the only one who has level-six security clearance. You will probably never have level-six.
Me: Well I don’t really care about level-six, I just want enough light in the bathroom so that I don’t come out looking like a clown after I’ve put my makeup on.
BR: Hmmm, let me think about that. That would mean bumping you up to level-two. I’m not sure if you’re ready for level-two.
Me: BR! I just want to know how to work the lights in the bathroom so I can put my makeup on like a normal person!
BR: Blondie, I can’t just bump you up a security level because you’re not skilled enough to put your makeup on in the dark. This will take some careful consideration. I’ll get back to you in a few days.
Me: What is wrong with you. Seriously.
But it’s amazing what you can get used to when you live with something long enough. And the moat is one example of this. Like now I barely notice the rotten slabs of plywood covering it so that you can (sort of) safely get across to the gate. And after a while the caution tape started to look rather whimsical. And the pylons reminded me of those quirky garden gnomes.
Until one night when we decided to host a dinner party and it finally dawned on me that our entranceway kind of looked like the entranceway to Hell. So I asked BR if we could clean it up a little. He said he would take care of it. And if by “take care of it” he meant adding two fake potted plants on either side of the moat, then yes, he took care of it.
Unfortunately it takes BR an absurdly long time to get things either constructed or repaired. This is because he is – how can I put it – “frugal” and also paranoid that everyone (especially workmen) is trying to rip him off. So after months of me complaining, he eventually hires the cheapest person he can find on Craigslist who has no references and is likely a serial killer, and not only does he try to kill you but also completely botches the job, and then the whole process starts all over again.
We have been through a countless number of gardeners, landscapers, plumbers, electricians (many of them likely serial killers from Craigslist), household staff, personal assistants, assistants for the assistants, etc, etc. It’s exhausting.
So now it’s four years later and not much has changed. I can still barely work anything. The house is still scary. We’re still living with several “unfinished” projects. And I still feel like I have early-onset dementia because even getting a cup of coffee is difficult. But on the positive side, I have now have level-three security clearance.