Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I don’t know why, but my husband has always been fascinated with doorbells. When I asked him why, he said it’s because it takes a real ding-dong to appreciate another one.

One family we used to visit had the Westminster chimes for their doorbell, which he loved so much, he’d use any excuse to go over there and ring it. I, however, tried to avoid visiting this family during the winter months because by the time their doorbell played its entire tune, my lips were frozen to my teeth.

I remember when we bought our first home and the doorbell just went “ding dong,” how disappointed my husband was. He said he wanted something unique, something classy, something that would make the people who rang it say, “Wow, now that’s a really cool doorbell!”

My father told us he’d seen this gizmo somewhere that could be hooked up to a doorbell and programmed to play up to 50 different tunes, such as Christmas carols, birthday songs, and even “Here Comes Peter Cottontail.” As a surprise, and probably to stop my husband’s complaining, he bought it for us for Christmas. The problem was, this was before the age of mass computerization, so the doorbell had to manually be programmed for each different tune by connecting certain wires to certain other stuff in the mechanism.

When my dad presented the musical-doorbell gift to us, my husband took one look at the instructions and immediately got a deer-in-the-headlights expression on his face.

“Don’t worry,” my dad said. “Just let me know which song you want first and I’ll program it for you, then I’ll hook it up to your doorbell.”

After much deliberation, my husband chose (no big surprise) the Westminster chimes.

Three weeks later, my dad still was trying to program the darned gizmo. And every time he tested it to see how the Westminster chimes were progressing, the tune sounded so bad, even the cat covered its ears.

Shortly thereafter, the musical doorbell mysteriously disappeared from my dad’s workbench, never to be seen again. Although, I still suspect that the hole he was seen digging in his garden one night probably wasn’t for some really big tulip bulbs as he’d said it was.

I hate to admit it, but I was the one who bought the doorbell for our new house. I know my husband was hoping I’d come home with something that played Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, but I was penny pinching at the time and grabbed a doorbell that was on a half-price clearance table at the hardware store. And for the decorative box that covered the mechanism on the wall, I selected another half-price item, a plain oak one.

The guy who was doing the electrical work on our new house back then installed the doorbell for us, but we were too busy moving into the place to pay much attention to anything else. So it wasn’t until the house was completed and we were all settled in, that we heard the doorbell ring for the first time…when a guest came to visit.

“Bzzzzzzz! Dong! Clunk! Bzzzzzzz! Dong! Clunk!”

My husband and I just stared at each other. It was the worst sound we’d ever heard – kind of like a giant bee getting clubbed to death.

“What the heck was that?” my husband asked.

“I think it was our doorbell,” I said.

“Why on earth would you buy something that sounds that bad?”

“Well, I couldn’t very well test it out when it was still in the package in the store, could I?”

“Even your father’s out-of-tune Westminster chimes sounded better than that!” he said.

So for over a year, my husband gritted his teeth and rolled his eyes whenever someone rang our doorbell.

Last week, my aunt and uncle came to visit. When they rang the doorbell, my husband groaned and said, for about the 150th time, “I really hate that doorbell!”

My uncle heard his remark and being a talented jack-of-all-trades, said, “Let me check it out for you. It doesn’t sound right!”

He grabbed a step stool and removed the decorative wooden box from the doorbell’s mechanism, then started to laugh. “Whoever installed this, installed it upside down! It’s probably donging when it should be dinging!”

“What about the buzzing?” my husband asked.

“Well, unfortunately, I think that’s in the transformer.”

My uncle re-installed the doorbell in the correct position and then went outside to push the button to test it.

“Bzzzzzz! Ding Dong!”

“Hey! At least we have both a ding and a dong now!” I said.

My husband still looked less than pleased that it wasn’t playing something like Bohemian Rhapsody. It obviously was going to take much more than just a long-lost “ding” to ever make him truly happy about the doorbell.

Maybe I should sneak into my dad’s old flower garden and start digging. I have the sneaking suspicion I just may find that doorbell gizmo with the programmable tunes.

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