Screen Test


Our sliding patio door is actually the main point of entry to our house, because the driveway and garage are behind us, on an alley. As such, the patio door has hosted no less than 4 bargain-brand screen doors since we moved here. They are crappy when new, and rage-inducing when old. Combined with Phillip's complete lack of mechanical nuance, it's a recipe for two escaped Scotty dogs and a house full of bugs.

Last September, Phillip won his annual summer-long fight with the screen door.  He won by flinging it, frisbee-style, as far as it would go into the back yard.  The thing had leapt from its track for the ten-millionth time and bent, decisively, in the middle of its sub-par frame.  He turned to face me, breathing harder than was strictly necessary, and announced that we, as a family, were done with the screen door.

I calmly suggested that a family without air conditioning a might experience difficulty with that setup, and extracted a promise that we would acquire a new and improved screen door, Next Spring.  It was almost Fall, after all, and I'm a girl who knows how to time my battles.

As the person most likely to notice when the weather is getting warmer (probably because I'm usually sitting under a pile of WOOL), I wasted no time once the season changed.  I was on the phone to the Mobile Screen Door Installation Unit before you could say "Relative Humidity".  I ordered up the beefiest, industrial-strength, hard-core, pet-and-husband-proof, kickass screen door they sell.  I was so excited, I announced the forthcoming blessed event at dinner that night:  "Guess what, family Huff," I said. "I've called the screen door people and we are getting the very best one they have, next Tuesday!"  The crowd went wild.

The door was installed just as promised and it is, in a word, perfect.  It swishes open at the touch of a finger.  It lets in air.  It keeps out bugs.  Even the Scotties love it, preferring to nap in the doorway where they can smell all the outside smells.

Phillip came in that night.  Through the new screen door.  I said "Notice anything different?"  He hates it when I ask that.  He looks like a lobster that has smelled drawn butter.  I can hear the gears grinding in his head. "Did she do something to her hair? Is this an anniversary? Are any walls not where they used to be?" He runs through the litany of hugely obvious things he has missed in the past, trying hard not to panic. 

"Um...don't tell me,"  He opens the screen door, goes outside and spies the pot of herbs I planted three days ago. "OOooh!  Basil!  Looks great, sweetie."  He comes back in through the partially open screen door, closes it behind him and asks, "Was that not it?"  I smile serenely and call Lindsay in to watch.  Dude truly has no idea, and I think I need a witness. 

"Lindsay, Daddy's having trouble seeing what's new around here," I say.  She collapses into a giggling fit.  I join her, unable to stand it anymore.  Phillip opens the new screen door again, closes it behind him, and wanders around outside, looking for what might be new or out of place.  "Is it the flower pots over there?  You emptied them out?"  Lindsay and I are now immobilized by laughter and unable to respond.  He opens the new screen door, comes in, closes it behind him and retreats to his favorite spot behind the laptop.  "You people are just mean, you know that?"

Yeah, we know that. 

I finally gave in and pointed out the new door, once my breathing had returned to normal.  He had opened and closed it no less than 4 times, and never registered its existence.  As if we hadn't chased after at-large Scottish terriers only last week.  As if we haven't been squishing bugs like people in a tent for many, many days. 

My husband is a very smart guy.  He teaches other peoples children to be smart, too, every single day.  He is aware of many, many things.  I sometimes cannot tell what those things are.  Some things just don't make it through the Phil-ter.  It's like there's some sort of mesh device, keeping out all but the most pertinent information.  Yeah, some type of ventilated surface, mounted on a track around his brain.  Almost like a...

Never Mind.