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Madeleine Begun Kane


My husband Mark and I have a weekend hideaway, a respite from the pace of New York City life. Our country haven is smaller than most; it was once optimistically measured at 400 square feet. In fact, it's so petite that the very act of staying there more than a day without a single quarrel is persuasive proof of a sound relationship.

On a recent weekend there we were happily hiding out, luxuriating in nature, listening to the birds, and breathing in the fragrant non-New York City air. Suddenly, we were assaulted by a distinctly unpacific sound. No, not sundry talking heads screaming about Iraq. It was even worse than that.

It was a car alarm.

Mark and I stared at each other in horror as the blare invaded our rustic surroundings. This had never happened before. Who was responsible, and when would it end? Was it a harbinger of other city evils yet to beset us?

We looked about for the culprit as the noise finally ceased, then sounded again. "I think it's coming from there," I said, pointing to a neighbor due south. "What's wrong with these people? Why don't they do something? And why on earth do they need a car alarm in the country?"

We discussed the pros and con's of calling the police, shouting to hear our voices over the din. The cons, of course, were affronted neighbors and reluctant police. On the pro side the noise, presumably, would stop.

We talked about another possibility - walking over to our neighbors and telling them to fix their $#$$%$#@!@ alarm. But we decided against it. After all, if they were home they would surely have done something by now.

In desperation, I boosted the stereo volume, hoping to fight car alarm cacophony with rock. I raised it so high, that I could barely hear Mark say, "Oh my God, it's our alarm."

And I'm afraid it was. Like many "loaded" cars, ours tells us when we've left our lights on. But its timing could be better; it waits until the lights have almost completely drained the battery, then proclaims our disaster by tripping the alarm.

Yes, Mark had left the lights on yet again - the fourth time in a year. Usually he tries to do it in a parking lot; it improves the odds of getting a jump.

But this time we were stranded in the country with the closest service station a half-hour away. And naturally, it was a holiday weekend.

But I'm proud to say we didn't argue - there's no room for bickering in a 400-square-foot house. Instead, we waited patiently until a neighbor came home and gave us a jump. And never one to waste a good "making fun of the husband" story, I sat down at my laptop and began writing this piece.

"What would you do without me to inspire you?" Mark joked as he sneaked a peak at the screen.

And he's right. With a spouse like Mark, I'll never run out of material. But even if his antics didn't provide a constant stream of column fodder, how could I be riled at his trapping us in so beautiful a place? A place that's blissfully peaceful, where we can escape just about anything?

Anything, that is, except our own car alarm.

© Madeleine Begun Kane. All Rights Reserved.
1st Published

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