In Soviet Russia, ceiling killz you


When I was little, my mother would send us upstairs to clean our room. After several hours had gone by, she would call up, “Girrrls? Is your room done yet?” And we would shout, “It’s about halfway clean!”

And it would be . . . THE TOP HALF. Ho ho! We certainly pulled one over on her. The floor and beds and dressers were as cluttered and sloppy as ever, but the ceiling was nice and clean, bare and tidy, as neat as a pin.

I miss those days, when the ceiling was clean.

Now that I have my own house, nobody shouts up the stairs at me.  Nobody sends me off to tidy up regularly. Instead, they encourage me in my filthy eastern ways, by saying things like, “Ha ha, you are keeping it real!” or “Wow, you make me feel so much better about my own house!” or “Mrs. Fisher, you have ten days to remediate this issue before a legal process is automatically triggered.”

Wanna see? Of course you do. It’ll make you feel better. Unless you’re my mother.


We live close enough to the woods that there will always, always, always be mice in our house; but we live close enough to the highway that any cats we own will always get hit by cars. So we poison the little bastards. They make mouse poison that desiccates the corpse, so there is no stink. Our walls are now cozily insulated with a thick layers of mouse mummies, and that’s how we like it.

The trick is to find a spot to slip the poison where the mice will find it, but the kids and dog won’t. So what you do, see, is — well, first you lose many, many nights of sleep to a maddening scrabbling, gnawing noise, and then, in that mental state, you decide it’s a good idea to just bash a hole in the ceiling, stuff some poison in, and then cover the hole with a piece of paper and tape


because things being what they are, you know you’re gonna need to get in there again.

Every once in a while I consider using something fancier to cover up the hole, like a cub scout kerchief, or maybe a piece of colored paper, but I don’t want to appear pretentious.


Here’s something I like to ponder every once in a while: a stain on the ceiling that has the habit / of sometimes looking like a . . . pooping wildebeest.


Literary, ain’t it? Or maybe it’s Winnie the Pooh, or possibly a toxodon. I wanted to say “tapir,” but I couldn’t think of the word, and then I got bogged down in “aardvark vs. anteater” like I always do, so I just said “wildebeest.”

The real question is, what the heck kind of stain is that, and why is it over the couch? The real answer is, “There is no answer that will make you glad you asked.”


Here’s one I may have shared before. Our exquisite bathroom is spacious, bright, prettily tiled, and as well-stocked with water guns, tea sets, broken humidifiers, peri bottles, ratty towels, and twenty-three bottles of almost-empty shampoo as you could hope, so that’s nice. But it does have a bit of a ventilation problem


Naturally, someone who was not made of stone just had to etch “DOOM ON YOU” into the mildew. Just in case you were having your morning shower and thinking that the day might go well.


Not only do they throw spaghetti at the ceiling, but


no one even thinks to pull it off the ceiling until it’s become one with the ceiling, and takes a little bit of the ceiling with it when it goes. Brought to you by the same kids who will tell you with a straight face that they did sweep, and they didn’t realize you meant also sweep up all those chicken bones, gosh.


Now you’re starting to get really disgusted with us. These people live like animals! you are thinking. How hard is it to buy a gallon or two of Killz and brighten those ceilings right up again? An hour or so of work ,and your outlook is so much brighter.

You’re right! It’s easy! All you have to do is lay down plastic, clear your schedule, throw on some old clothes, get one of those long-handled rollers, and away you go. Put on the first coat of white paint, and then


wait six years for it to dry. Is it time to put the second coat on? NO, NOT YET. It just isn’t, okay?


If you’re feeling bold, you can even venture into the boys’ room, where you will find  . . .


Yeah, no, actually, I would actually like to panic now, please, thanks. Is . . is that a tick trapped under some packing tape?  Is that blood spatter?  Is it terrible that I find myself hoping it’s blood, and not anything else? Never mind, I’ll just flee.


Back to the adult world, where people are responsible and sensible and do things the right way. For instance, it’s extremely important to have working smoke alarms throughout the house.
It’s important to regularly change the batteries in your smoke alarm.
It’s important to put the smoke alarms back in after you change the batteries.
It’s important to remember where you put the smoke alarms while you were searching for the batteries you bought yesterday.
It’s . . .


It’s important to have a working smoke alarm. Do what you gotta do.


And here, the little jerks were just deliberately marking up the ceiling with the syrup that secrete in their horrible little pores


I could take prints and find out who it was, but does it really matter? Let’s just call it a precious memento and draw a curtain. Yes, over the ceiling. It’s either that or burn the whole thing down.



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11 thoughts on “In Soviet Russia, ceiling killz you”

  1. Excellent article. I have two and worry about my house. I’m also thrilled that someone else in the universe knows what a hoopy frood is.

  2. Ma’am, I pronounce you an Honorary Crazy Stabler. That is the highest honor possible from someone who lives with…raccoon urine stains…in her kitchen ceiling. Does it help that they were made by *baby* raccoons? Some day, in your undoubtedly copious free time, I invite you over to this kitchen for a cup of coffee, where I’ll show you the still-unpainted patches where we removed the raccoons. If it’s late, it’ll be by candlelight–because once when the ceiling flooded, it shorted out the light. In about, oh, 1998. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord…and his sidekick, Entropy. Love your stuff so very much, wish I could friend you on Facebook but you seem to have all the friends that Mr. Zuckerberg will allow. If you unfriend someone sometime, can I be first in line to replace them? (Yes, that does sound pathetic.) With affection,
    Brenda from Flatbush
    Mistress of Crazy Stable (the House) for 30 years and Crazy Stable (the blog) for 10.

  3. Thank you so very much for this. It makes me feel so much better about the the repeatedly patched over but never painted Sheetrock at the bottom of the stairs where the animals (cough *beloved fruit of my loins*cough) ripped the gate out of the wall repeatedly.

  4. Hi Simcha,
    I was just reading through your last few posts which of course made me laugh, mist over a bit, and reflect on what a funny, interesting and multi dimensional person you are (that’s better than complicated, eh?) I remember that after the first few weeks of reading you in the NCR, I thought “Ohhhhhhhh. They
    are. going. to. get. her. ” I knew you couldn’t talk about reproduction and get away with it, and that you *certainly* couldn’t talk about sex and humor at the SAME TIME. I pictured them grinding their teeth and thinking about writing letters about how vulgar you (sex is) are.

    Yeah, you’re a really great writer. You should write some kind of comedy. (About Catholics?) Maybe that’s too depressing? I’m reading “A man called Ove” which makes me smile, it’s pretty good, and I like the writer’s quirky style but I’m sure what you would write would make your readers laugh out loud.

    Anyway, I needed to laugh so I came on over to the goddess in the armchair. You didn’t let me down. Yes, your house cheered me up and made me feel less bad about the rat that sneaks into my car at night from under the hood. My husband wouldn’t believe me so I made him switch cars. He has politely asked me to buy rat traps. As for the dirty walls–My best life hack has been to eschew all propriety. My husband thinks I have no conscience because I don’t use drop cloths, tape, and I wear my nicest clothing. I buy medium size brushes from the 99 cent store and keep a bucket of Swiss coffee white on hand. I’ve learned how to blot and twirl the brush a bit so it doesn’t drip. When it drips I have a wet washcloth on hand. The effects are so instantaneous that it has become a guilty pleasure.

    My husband just dropped off our son Blaise at LAX. He decided to go to school in Italy and is funding it himself with student loans. I don’t even know when we will see him next. The boy has given me my share of heartache but I’m really going to miss him and I’m excited for him. …Mixed feelings. He brought me a bottle of wine as a going away present. He knows me. I asked him where the straw was and we had our last laugh and hugged. I’m not going to wait for my husband because he’s on the 405 (most congested in the U.S.?) I will use a glass, and tomorrow I’ll figure out how to do your subscription thingy. Cheers to kids going away to college.

    p.s. Leah’s comment made me laugh too.

  5. Back in the seventies, my three brothers shared a room that was painted a very light blue-green. You could have called it Toothpaste Blue-green, because they discovered that almost anything that happened to that wall could be covered up seamlessly with a little smear of toothpaste. Played darts without a dartboard? Get the toothpaste. A little accident with a bat, tennis racket, putter, your brother’s teeth? Get the toothpaste, man. Archery practice? Get . . .

    It’s probably a good thing we moved out of that house when we did–at some point the sheetrock-to-toothpaste ratio of their walls would have reached a tipping point.

  6. Absolutely hillarious! Irma Bombeck would be proud of you! Peace and All Good to you and your wonderful, mad family. With affectionate regards, Corky Hart (Lydia Cubbedge’s mum)

  7. Dying. I’m dying. I cackled in solidarity all through this, but seriously lost my shit over the smoke alarms. It makes me so happy because I walk around through my life thinking, what the frick is wrong with us? Why do we have to live this way?! Lol!

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