Tthe sun has finally burned its way through the clouds of March, April, and May. The weatherman promised a glorious sunny weekend and I was so excited I got up early, pulled up the window shades and was disappointed.

The day looked as gray as all the days that went before. In fact the light was so dull it was barely able to penetrate the windows. Then, when I went downstairs to the kitchen my wife asked me to go outside. I wasn’t sure why because I hadn’t done anything wrong for at least a day or two, but I did as she asked and went out in front of the house. As soon as I opened the garage door, I was dazzled by the brilliant blue skies and bright sunshine.

As I went back inside I noticed that the inside of my house was dull and the light that penetrated through the windows had a brown sheen to it. I also noticed that my wife held a full roll of paper towels and a bottle of window cleaner. I got the message; it was time to clean the windows!

It was also time for my wife’s sisters to pick her up to go and do some shopping. My wife always leaves home when I clean the windows because it’s the only way she feels safe. I didn’t mind being left alone because it lets me experiment with new ways of getting the job done. The windows on my house are a type that can be pulled in so one can clean the outside of the window from the inside of the house. This makes the task a bit easier than trying to wash the outside of the windows from the outside of the house. Especially since ladders and I have never worked well together.

The first thing I did was to collect all of the necessary cleaning materials. I already had the window cleaner and paper towels but I also needed a garbage can and my portable CD player to entertain myself as I worked my way through what is generally a very tedious task. I always start with the corner window of our dining room. Not that it makes any difference but once the habit is formed it is destined to never go away. I pulled up the shade and removed the gnome that stood sentinel on the inside sill of the window.

We have a collection of these Clark gnomes, many of which have featured prominently in my nightmares. I then had to open the bottom window a bit and pull down the top window so that I could release the top window from the frame so it could rest on my belly in order for me to clean the outside glass. This went relatively well. Even though I had lost some weight over the past few months there was still plenty of bulk to hold up the window as I sprayed and cleaned off winter’s murk.

When I was done I pushed the window back into the frame so that it would click back into position in order to allow me to unhinge the bottom window. Usually this is an easy task but since it was still early spring and the ocean winds were cool I was wearing a long sleeved shirt at the time. As I pushed up the window into position I caught both my sleeves between the frame and the window, thus attaching myself to the window I was attempting to clean. At first I chuckled at my foolishness because I didn’t think it was a major problem.

All I had to do was unhitch the upper window and thus release my arms from the frame. The basic problem was I couldn’t maneuver my now attached hands over the frame of the window in order to release it from the frame. For the next 10 minutes I tried to twist my hands and wrist so that I could get my fingers over the latches. At one time I actually touched them with the back of my fingers. Since the hinge joints of my fingers only bend in one direction this was more of a tease then an escape strategy.

Understanding that it was impossible for me to unlatch the window with my hands and arms attached I thought the only way I could release myself from my restraints was to tear my shirt free of the window. The only problem with this particular strategy is that my wife always buys me the best and most durable of clothes knowing I have a tendency to be a bit rough on them. In other words the shirt I was wearing was indestructible.

A half an hour passed with me using all of my strength trying to tear the shirt clear of the window. I even tried to pull the window free of the hinge figuring a new window frame couldn’t cost that much. I then cursed the builder of my house because of his use of superior products. Sweat now poured down my forehead. At one time I saw a neighbor walking his dog in front of my house. I thought I must have looked pretty odd standing there in the window, jigging around, trying to free myself from my bonds and maybe he might stop to see what was the matter.

I even tried calling for help but realized our windows are also soundproofed so he couldn’t hear me. I tried mouthing the word “help” very distinctly, waggling my eyebrows and rolling my eyes to emphasize my desperation. The dog and the neighbor stopped, looked at me, the neighbor cocked his head to the left and the dog cocked its head to the right. Then the neighbor smiled and, deciding I was just feeling a little more neighborly than usual, gave me a little wave.

Then he and his dog turned their backs on me and walked away. I then started to wonder how long I might be trapped there before somebody found me. What if my wife went out for dinner with her sisters after they had done their shopping and she didn’t come home till midnight? What if she called home and couldn’t get an answer and decided to stay over at her sister’s for the night?

After being attached to the window for about two hours I had a new idea. I thought I might be able to maneuver myself out of my shirt. I knew it would be difficult, especially when I had to bite off the top two buttons of my shirt, but I figured if a hiker could cut off his arm to get free, I could bite off a couple of shirt buttons. I bit off the buttons, spat them out, made an opening in the shirt big enough for me to slip through and started to wriggle backwards. I then felt the cord that attached my CD player to my earphones tightening around my neck and realized I was slowly strangling myself.

After another hour of twisting and contorting myself every possible which way I found myself hanging from the window like a performer from Cirque du Soleil. My butt was about six inches from the ground and my head was stuck in one of the shirtsleeves. I was soaked in sweat and my face was covered in scratches and scrapes and I could hardly breathe. If I kept this up, I realized, I might actually succeed in killing myself and the report of the way I was found was not something I would want my friends and family to read in next week’s Independent. So, I just gave up. I spent the next two hours hanging from the window frame like a prisoner manacled to my own house.

A few hours later my wife and her sisters came home. I heard then come in the front door chatting happily, I heard my wife calling out my name and then I heard them come into the room and then I heard total silence. I heard footsteps approaching me and then my wife untied the CD cord and yanked what was left of the shirt off my head and I slumped heavily to the ground. My wife’s sisters gave her a hug, wished her the best and left without saying another word. I looked up at my wife, smiled gamely and said: “One done, 16 to go!”

The sun has finally burned its way through the clouds of March, April, and May and the weatherman promised another sunny weekend. Silently I watch my wife gather up the roll of paper towels, the bottle of window cleaner and a pair of bright yellow rubber gloves she will be able to slip off in a second if she gets snagged by the window.

When she has left I pour myself a second cup of coffee, settle down in my favorite chair with the sports section and reflect that every cloud has a silver lining.

The End

Why the man of the house doesn’t do windows.
By  J. G. Fabiano
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and a writer living in York, Maine, USA
e-mail him at:

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