Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Laughing Betty and the gas leak

So, Dan smelled a gas leak in my studio-office.
I sniffed and I sniffed.

Yeah. I began to think I smelled it, too. So I called our local gas & electric company.

I waited hours for someone to show up. At 11:30 pm Betty showed up at my door with so many pens in her front pocket and she wore the roundest shape hair I have ever seen. There was a small circle of blue ink that left a ring around her pocket from a leaky pen -or two.

She smelled the gas odor before I open the door. "Yup, that's a gas leak alright!" she says, and explodes into a crazy belly laugh, where she leans backwards, looking up at the stars and then throws herself forward, to bend down toward her shoes.

She states she needs to climb under my house to get to this leak and now it's my turn to do the belly laugh. I was under my house soon after I first moved in and noticed how tight it was down under there. I knew I needed a much slimmer worker to climb under my house with the low lying pipes and Laughing Betty didn't fit the bill. I worried. I wanted her to know how tight and cramped it was down there, without pointing any attention to her weight.

But. She insisted.

I walked her around to the opening under my house and she kneeled down to take a look.

"Hold my flashlight Lil' Lady" she said to me.

As she crawled in, I crouched down behind her and leaned in to shine the flash light over her head so she could see, but she filled up the entire door light of space.

"HeyYyYy!" She shouted. "I can't seeeeee!"

I'm searched frantically for an opening of space to shine the light. Her legs were kicking widly and then... she was in. I handed her the flashlight and she started to crawl and I said, "You okay in there?" She turns around (which took seemingly forever to face me) and says, "I'm hard of hearing! Please do not talk to me while I'm under your house, because I can't read your lips."

"Oh no," I thought, shaking my head. "This is a really lousy idea". I really felt unsettled --even panicky-- with her crawling under my house during a gas leak while I watched from the outside door.

Within a moment, I heard:"I'm STuUCcKk!"

She crawled only about six feet before getting stuck under the large pipe I suspected she would. After several pushes and tugs and pulls, she was able to free herself, but her work trousers remained behind.

She crawled back to the door of my crawl space in her underwear, laughing again like she did on my front porch. Her entire body convulsed. It made me giggle, too.

I leaned in and grabbed her work trousers and handed them to her. She hopped around squeezing herself into them while laughing into convulsions. I started to belly laugh, too. The experience caught me so off-guard. Any moment, I was waiting for Alan Funt to appear to tell me to "smile, I'm on Candid Camera!" But he never showed up. It was just me and her.

Before she left, she apologized she couldn't help and suggested I call a plumber to come out to fix the leak and she left my home still laughing.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

The next day, I got a call from her on my answering machine.

"Hello Shawn? This is Betty. Remember me from last night? I have lost my main gas key. Can you check under your house to see if I left it under there when I lost my pants? (explosion of laughter erupted). I can pick it up during a break between two house calls!"

I went back to look under my house and not only did I find Betty's key, but about $4 dollars worth of change, two credit cards, a handful of catsup packages and a half-dozen pens.

She showed up at my door and before she knocked, I heard her laughing again so hard walking up the walkway.

I opened the front door before she rang the door bell and I handed her the key and her other belongings. She thanked me and laughed at the pile of stuff that seemed so consealed inside her pockets. As she walked out the door, she turned toward me only once more and wanted to give me a quick hug. I returned it to her. She continued on her way down my front walk toward her truck and she laughed again, bending down to her shoes and then back up toward the stars, her little round vibrating hair casting shadows against the moon reflection on her truck.

Today it is quiet. And, I actually miss her.


Monica said...

This story brings such a smile to my face. I think this is another one of those things that only happens to you, but in a good way! :o)

danny said...

That was hilarious! I wonder if that laugh comes from all the gas she's inhaled.

grumpiest girl said...

That story is good enough to eat, and I want my very own Laughing Betty. Thanks for that delicious morsel.

Janet said...

HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHeeHeeHee....ohh I wish I coulda been there!!!

ValGalArt said...

I laughed out loud reading this post!Hilarious is your laughing betty!!! I think she would fit into Topanga quite nicely, all of the people that are freelance plumbers, builders, handy people are similar to betty up here. Freewheeling and fancy free. You gotta love it! Fun post shawn! I will be back to read the post below and I love the picture of you it is darling, I had the very same haircut!

Rayne said...

This is too funny. I love meeting larger than life characters. People who seem to have stepped right out of a book. It's a wonderful thing.

Courtney said...

What a great lady. I love meetinf these colorful larger than life charaters and trying to pay homage to them in my art.