My in laws are really great people. I say this not because of their generosity, hospitality, reliability, taking care of the dog at the last minute when we leave town for the day or how great they are with the kids.
All those things are true, but it is not a true measure of how great they really are. The true measure is that they didn't kill me long ago. Two quick stories should illustrate my point.
Back in the days before DirecTv, most people were forced to use cable for TV if they wanted anything other than the networks. I know, I know, it sounds like a fake story an old guy made up, but it was, in fact, true. Some of the cable boxes had hacks. If you put a paper clip in just the right spot, you could get all of the channels. One night when we were first dating, I stayed over at their house. On the front room L shaped sectional. DearWife was on the same couch , but we could not have the hide-a-way bed out. We had to sleep head-to-head. Her brother (2 years her junior) could sleep in his room with his girlfriend and the door shut. But that's a different story.
I couldn't sleep, and the rest of the house was asleep (including DearWife). There wasn't anything on. But there were a lot of great movies on. I thought "how hard can this be?" So I got a paper clip, and started messing around. I wasn't quite getting it in the right position, but I was soo close. So I kept trying for about 5 minutes.
All of the sudden, there was a spark followed by a loud PFFFT sound and some black smoke. I jumped back on the couch instinctively, preparing to plead ignorance. But as my future wife woke up, I owned up to it. They had to call in and get a new box, which didn't have the paper clip exploit.
On another occasion, I proved my aptitude for fire. It was a minor holiday, like Easter or something if I remember correctly. Somehow, I was tasked to start a fire in the fireplace. Up until this point, my only experience with a fireplace had been in my grandmother's basement with her electric heater in the shape of a fireplace. But I was either too stupid or shy to turn down this task. "How hard can this be?"
I put about the equivalent of 2 sunday editions worth of newspapers in there - you know - to give it a good start. I put some kindling on top, and lit a match. It got a big fire right away, so I was pretty proud of myself. A minute or two later however, it became clear something wasn't right. The smoke was not going up the chimney, it was going into the house.
By the time I realized what was happening it was too late. The papers had burned through, and the entire house was filled with smoke.
On the plus side, lunch was great. Deviled eggs, potatoes, a nice salad, and unintentionally smoked ham.