Often you don’t see situations for how they actually are until hours after they occur. However, there are some occasions where you can see the horror of the moment unfolding before your eyes. You can literally be living in that hell until either the sweet release of death comes or (the more likely) the moment just stops being. I experienced this very moment last week, and my release came after a long and drawn out interaction that lasted 3 hours.
It all began when a letter came through the door notifying me of the deadline to complete my taxes.
The accountant that I have absolutely thinks I am a mental person. I met him when I bought my apartment in Amsterdam, and was introduced to him via via via people. The first time we arranged to meet was in Burger King at the train station. I waited for him at the entrance, surrounded by discarded napkins, Chicken Royale burger wrappers and sticky straws. We sat and discussed house prices and mortgages, whilst teenagers back and forthed between eating their curly fries and sucking each other’s faces off. It was pretty horrific and uncomfortable. I’m sure I made some jokes that made the whole thing more horrific and uncomfortable.
Anyway, over the months that followed, we had several meetings and a lot of emails when I was buying the apartment. Basically, a lot of opportunities for something ridiculous to happen. I’ve mistakenly put kisses at the end of emails to him, called him 12 times in a row from the bottom of my handbag and hugged him when my mortgage was approved. What can I say, I misread the situation.
Back to the story.
We made an appointment for him to come over to my house on one Friday evening after work. He was running late, so 7 turned into 9 – the time is irrelevant, only that it is important to know that outside was dark. A buzz at the door and he had arrived. At the precise moment I buzzed him up, the entire electricity in my apartment fused, and the place was in total darkness. I frantically lit some candles. I hadn’t thought to switch off the music in my room yet, but unfortunately Celine Dion/Mariah Carey/something a little bit seductive/romantic/not appropriate-to-play-when-the-Tax-Man-comes-round-to-your-house-on-a-Friday-night-and-the-electricity-has-gone-out-and-all-the-candles-are-lit started playing just as he walks in. He looks around at the seemingly very prepared environment. Candles. Darkness. Soft music. He looks terrified. I explain to him the electrical situation and that I need a moment to try to figure everything out. This is terrible. He thinks I have lured him here for some kind of Mariah Carey n’candle combo seduction night.
The fuse box is located in the utility room, otherwise known as an extension of my wardrobe/washing machine area/dumping ground/place for all the crap that doesn’t really have a place. Basically a room that, when you open the door to it, the opening of the door action has a kind of jack-in-the-box effect. This basically meant that on this particular evening, when I opened the door, my laundry basket spilled out onto the living room floor. Luckily in the dim glow of the candle light, the dirty pants tsunami was not so obvious. So, having managed to manoeuvre myself into the utility room – balancing on an empty suitcase, an old ab curler (impulse buy from the home shopping channel in a moment of hungover desperation) and a box of washing powder, I was able to reach around and into the small cupboard that housed the fuse box. Unfortunately, as I put my arm into the cupboard, the washing box below me buckled (of course!), forcing my weight against the Small Cupboard and subsequently trapping my arm. Unable to move, I waited for 30 seconds contemplating my next move. However, as I was literally physically unable to move – and the option of nibbling off my arm might be have been a slightly anti social one, especially as I had a guest – I had no moves to contemplate. I shouted for the Tax Man and he came into the utility room carrying a candle like Wee Willy Winkie (minus the pyjamas) offering his help. I explained to him to my sticky situation, in the fastest way that I could as I could feel the lower part of my arm losing functionality and myself becoming more and more panicked. Visions of that guy who fell between rocks during a climbing accident in the desert, and then had to saw his own arm off with a pocket knife flitted through my mind. What ensued between me and the Tax Man was farcical. It involved him holding my waist, trying to pull me back and release me from the grip of the Small Cupboard. At this point I was cursing that I had neglected to use the ab curler actually for my abs, as opposed to a clothes horse. Right there and then I vowed to use the curler the moment that this nightmare was over. In the end, one sharp tug and my arm was free and we were out of the utility room. Despite there still being an absence of light, the following truths were clear to see:
1. I needed to use the ab curler
2. my arm was most likely broken or at best, very badly bruised
3. there was still no electricity
The rest of the evening played out with us doing my tax return in the darkness and me drinking half a bottle of red wine. Guess he was afraid to accept any beverages from me just on the off chance that I had laced them with drugs. As he ran out of the door, I saw that a pair of my pants had attached themselves to his shoe, in the way that a piece of toilet paper might attach itself to a person’s shoe. I did what any self-respecting British person would do – I said nothing to him, closed the door and resolved to find a new accountant for next year. Oh, and to use the ab curler.