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Down the Hatchet

Exposing My Psyche

By Akshay Patil

I have a new smoke detector in my room. It is a behemoth of a device that hangs on my ceiling and winks -- err, blinks at me. A few weeks ago, a bunch of nice men came into my room and stuck it on my ceiling; since then I have lived in fear. Granted, I was living in fear before the ceiling monster took up residence in my room. But that was a different kind of fear -- a healthier, purer kind of fear.

A few months ago, my smaller, gentler, yellower smoke detector went crazy. It started beeping something crazy and would just not shut up. Even after leaving my window open for numerous hours (dropping the room temperature to a delicious 3 degrees Fahrenheit) the blasted thing would go off every time I plugged it in. This made me a big hit with the neighbors.

So I left the thing on my desk, e-mailed my house manager, and continued to live my life the way I always did -- except deathly afraid of frying to a crisp in my dorm room while asleep at 4:13 a.m. on a Wednesday. People would come to my room and marvel at my dare-devil behavior and dashing good looks. But despite my calm demeanor, my psyche and inner child were taking turns peeing in their pants (do psyche even have pants? And if not, does that mean they’re naked? Questions abound).

Well, as you can imagine, two and a half months, three e-mails, and a personal request later, I was still in a healthy state of paralyzing fear. True, I was being selfish, since constant terror is luxury compared to what my house manager must have been suffering from -- some sort of combination of blindness, deafness, and/or short-term amnesia. Not necessarily in that order. But call me self-centered, I was rather keen on not dying.

That’s when I decided to take drastic action. Since compliance with Cambridge fire-code was obviously not a high priority for my apparently still-ailing house manager, I threw caution to the wind and asked my local friendly maintenance guy if he could remedy my situation -- death.

Three days later there are men standing on my no-shoes-please carpet with their shoes on. But they are freeing me from angst, so I am happy.

When they leave, I have realized that I realize that I have jumped out of the frying pan into someplace that is uncomfortably warm, but is certainly not fire and really is quite an improvement over the frying pan. I now have a smoke detector once again and I would greet it with open arms if it weren’t so damn high and so damn scary looking. Seriously. It’s like the biggest smoke detector I’ve ever seen. They told me it was “better,” where apparently “better” is lingo for “freaking ass huge.” I’m scared to eat spicy food now because I swear heartburn will set the thing off.

But it’s a better fear now; a gentler fear; a less morbid fear. In fact, let’s call it a “trepidation” because says that “trepidation” is a synonym for “fear” and you have to admit, “trepidation” is a much cooler word than “fear.” “Trepidation” never got picked last for kickball or got zits in high school... but I digress.

Anyways, this trepidation stuff is great. I no longer dream of dying in a huge spontaneous inferno; instead I dream that my huge smoke detector will fall of the ceiling and crush me to death. Somehow that makes me feel better. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it’s because I’m exaggerating and my new smoke detector really isn’t that big and is just unsettlingly large. Or maybe it’s because I started flossing more regularly. I guess time will tell.