"Honey, I think it's time that we put up the plastic," Mr Thrimbly's wife exclaimed chipperly one clear October morning. Gerald Thrimbly thought himself a rather stolid and unflappable chap, not given to easy starts or fear of any kind. Yet his wife's bright announcement sent his heart sinking and the erstwhile cheerful Saturday had suddenly taken on a gloomy timbre, a funerary pall now hanging in the air. Gerald dreaded the annual autumnal ritual placement of plastic over his windows. Secretly he hoped that his wife wouldn't think it necessary, that the baggy sheets of clear cellophane loosely festooning their living room would somehow suffice to keep winter breezes at bay. Realizing that his wife was still awaiting a reply, he answered "Isn't it a bit early?""No," came the stern reply. Gerald's heart sank even further, knowing his one stalling tactic had failed him again.
With dread-laden steps he trudged to the basement. The chipped plaster in the stairwell looked to him as the dank walls of the Bastille, closing in on the foppish French aristocrat. Soon, the tumbril would take him back to his cackling Madame Defarge with her maniacal fascination with weatherproofing. Mentally crossing his fingers, he hoped that the basket with sheets of plastic would somehow be empty, that he could forestall the dreaded operation by making a trip to Home Depot, which might take place some indeterminate day in the future. Sadly, the basket was full, boxes of unopened plastic from the last winter leered at him, mocking his fear. "It's not so bad", they seemed to say, "all your friends are able to hang plastic without the final product looking like a blind chimp placed it". Gerald knew the lie, and had once told himself the same thing. Now, after several years in his centenarian house, he knew the sheets of clear plastic were deceitful. Not only would the final product look like some grotesque parody of a window, but that he would be confronted with his own inadequacy every day he spent in his own home. There could be only two solutions. Either Gerald could hang the plastic and stare his incompetency and incoordination in the face for six months, or he could kill himself. Death seemed a welcome alternative to the incessant barrage of mockery, lies, and poor craftsmanship.
Knowing that flight through the locked basement door was impossible, and realizing that his 2 year old son needed some kind of father figure, but fearing that his son's affection would forever be tainted by disdain for his father's poor handyman abilities, Gerald Thrimbly decided suicide was out of the question, and shambled back up the basement stairs. "Honey, we need to hang the plastic before it gets too cold for the tape to stick", said Mrs. Thrimbly brightly. She too knew of the duplicity of the plastic, but was somehow inured to its lies. Gerald masked his dread and presented his wife with a basket of plastic, like some trembling Aztec priest offering the sacrificial knife to a homicidal shaman. Suddenly, Buddy ran in, distracting Mrs. Thrimbly. Quickly Gerald put on his shoes and said "Let's go, we need to get to the store" He knew that if he could get the family moving, his sentence would be commuted, and that perhaps in the interval, some miracle would intervene on his behalf. Vaguely, he thought hopefully of flames licking the side of the building or a smoking pile of rubble greeting the family on their return from the store. Calmly, he walked out of the house, leading his family, his aplomb and nerve restored. No coward he, he thought bravely of himself.