The naked woman in this story was my first wife, Janet (not her real name). We were still newlyweds, married only a few months, with me gone most of that time as I wrapped up my military tour as a wire rat for the U.S. Army in Germany.
The month was January, 1966, cold and wintry, snow in the mountains. We’d obtained married housing at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, a little one-bedroom crackerbox we both loved except for two things:
1. The ubiquitous cockroaches, especially abundant under the sink but prone to scuttle underfoot anywhere at any time.
2. Of four burners on the kitchen stove, only one worked right.
I’d put in an order for a repairman from Maintenance to come look at the stove, but that was one of those cases where you definitely don’t want to hold your breath till you turn purple, fall down, and die. Weeks had passed…nothing.
In the meantime, the roach problem. Maintenance had sent over a guy to spray under the sink. Nothing. These little carapace-packers were tough. They just waggled their teeny antennae, gobbled up the poison, and asked,
“Is that all you got?!”
In desperation, having sworn the hundreds of thousands of roaches resident in the Army mess hall in Germany would be the last heavy duty contact I’d ever have with the bugs, I walked into Mr. Bug Lover’s office and asked for help. Told him we had some spray-resistant roaches. He asked me to catch a sample.
Did it, though. The next day, staring at the still-alive critter in its glass jar, he told me he needed to study the bug thoroughly before coming to any conclusions. He called a day later. Told me we had a species of German cockroach never before seen in Montana.
No, I did not let those critters hitchhike across the Atlantic in my duffel bag! How dare you accuse–oh. Sorry. You weren’t accusing. Must have been a flashback. PCSD, Post-Cockroach Stress Syndrome.
The good professor came down to our place, sprayed the roach runs personally. End of problem. Whatever fancy poison he used, he knew what he was doing.
But still no stove-fixer
My college class schedule was always fairly rugged, usually what was considered a “full load” plus at least one more. With military service in my rear view mirror and a wife to feed, there didn’t seem to be much point to “messing around”. Time to finally get that degree and get on with Life.
Didn’t work out that way, but that was the plan at the time.
As a result, that university horror of horrors, the “8 o’clock class” was part of the schedule. It was Monday morning, somewhere around 7:30 a.m. I let myself out, locked the door behind me, and headed out on the considerable hike to and across the main campus. Janet had mumbled something lovey-dovey when I’d kissed her good-bye for the day, but she hadn’t really been awake.
My key turned in the lock. But I was having trouble getting it right, slow getting the door open. I’d forgotten something, obviously. Janet rolled out of the sack, padded out to open the door for me. Not a stich on, naturally, because that’s the way we both slept by preference. Starkers. Skin to skin. Definitely.
Only it wasn’t me at the door. The man from Maintenance swung the front door wide open and stepped into the home at the exact moment Janet exited the bedroom.
With a shriek, Janet spun–providing the Maintenance man with a pretty nice going-away shot to round out the picture–and dived back into the bedroom. The punchline, however, burst from the Maintenance dude’s lips as he hastily backed out onto the front step:
“I JUST CAME TO FIX THE STOVE, LADY!!!!”
That poor fellow never did come back to fix the stove. The maintenance department sent out another guy–who knocked on the door very carefully and did not use his key. Every burner on that kitchen range worked perfectly after that.
Still, I’d have loved to have heard that first repairman’s version of the story later, when he was sitting around on coffee break with the rest of the crew, telling can-you-top-this yarns about Life in the Fast Lane at MSU.