Our deck broke my sister-in-law’s ass. It also tried to have me arrested.

It began in August 2006 when Jill decided to go and get herself pregnant. Which led to a shitstorm of shit. We had a toddler and a new house and no steady stream of income. It was a rough time for her belly to get all babyful. But if that wasn’t enough, on top of cramming a passenger up in her uterus, Jill opted to get an insane sinus infection as the winter set in. What the hell she was thinking, I’ll never know. The infection got so bad, it blew out her eardrum until blood trickled down her jaw. All Hail the Drama Queen. Am I right? So to the hospital we went.

THEN a few weeks later, I took Ian to open gym at our local park district. For 5 bucks, Ian got to run around with other kids in his age group in a padded gym and do gym things while moms stood around in tight pants and dads tried out the pummel horse (dads = dad . . . dad = me). Everything was going boringly until Ian decided to bump into another kid and fall two feet down onto his face and bust his eye all wide open. Way to go, genius! We took him to a pediatrician and he said Ian could use a stitch or two. But since the gash was so close to his eye, the doc decided against it. Ian spent over a week with a black eye and I still have a tiny scar on my heart about it.

Finally, on a January day during that cursed winter, the deck seized its moment. Yes, this post is still about my deck. It was lying dormant, watching and waiting and biding its time. Because it’s a deck and it couldn’t physically go anywhere else. Also because the evil.

We were going to my in-laws’ house. I was in the car with Ian waiting for Jill. As per usual. Jill has this 10-minute rule that she’s yet to explain to me. It goes like this: whenever we go anywhere as a family, Jill gets to roam the house for 10 minutes after I load the car up and buckle in all the wee ones. It was in our wedding vows somewhere, I believe. Everything will be all set and Jill will stay in the house for 10 additional extra superfluous bonus minutes. She does this for no reason. No reason whatsoever. Even if we’re late, with the kids screaming, beating each other, kicking the back of my seat, she’ll still insist on circling the house, visiting every room, for ten more minutes. Just because. Every time.

So the 10-minute rule was in full effect. We were running late and Ian was getting restless. Jill knew this, but rules are rules. Anyway, once the 10 minutes were up, she came tearing out of the house, fully 7 months pregnant, onto the icy deck in shoes meant for summertime picnics. She slipped and fell flat on her side.

The rest of the weekend, the otherwise active baby didn’t kick once.

We were terrified.

We took our third trip to the emergency room. And that’s when the deck’s evil plan was revealed to me. Yes, this post is still about the deck!

I was in the waiting room of the ER with Ian while Jill was talking to the nurses.

Suspicious Nurse 1: “We see in your medical history that you were in here recently with a ruptured ear drum.”

Jill: “More like exploded.”

Suspicious Nurse 2: “Is the problem in the waiting room?”

J: “Wha—? NO!”

SN1: “You can tell us.”

J: “There’s nothing to tell, I slipped-” Jill, flustered, defensive.

SN2: “You’re safe here.”

J: “ . . . he . . . he’s a monster.”

While I was keeping Ian occupied, the nurses were trying to get Jill to admit that she was the victim of domestic abuse. Had they looked out into the waiting room they would have seen a very stressed, unemployed man, with uncertain job prospects, wearing camo shorts in the dead of winter, trying to keep his toddler son calm while his pregnant wife was racking up medical bills they had no way to pay. Had they been able to access Ian’s medical records, they would have seen that, in addition to Jill suffering a ruptured ear drum and a mysterious fall, Ian also had his eye busted open. All in the last 5 weeks. I would have been led out of the hospital in handcuffs. In my camo shorts.

What I’m saying to you is that the deck wanted me to get arrested. It knew that we had multiple trips to the ER and it was hoping that the circumstances would paint me as a Midwestern Jack Torrance and get me locked up. I can’t prove this. But I know it’s true. I’ve read plenty of Stephen King. And books don’t lie.

It must have been PISSED when it saw me walk out of the car and step on its face to get in my house. Doubly pissed when it saw the relief on our faces that the baby was fine and suffered no harm in the fall. That day, coming home after the emergency ultrasound, was when we knew we were having a little girl and her name was Elsa.

The deck would get its revenge years later. I said it was evil, I never said it was fast.

About two months ago my sister-in-law slipped on the deck and broke her coccyx. Which is the ass bone. You know what you can do for a broken ass bone? Nothing. Except sit sideways FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Or until it heals.

I really don’t have any more to that episode. It’s pretty straightforward.

But then, just weeks ago, we had the master carpenter at our house fixing that kitchen window. My father-in-law came by to make sure this “carpenter,” with a scant 20 years of experience, knew how to buck-frame a goddamned window. My father-in-law is a retired cop so he’s more than qualified to oversee a master carpenter. (Though, to be fair, all men seem to think they were born with blueprints in their brains and a toolbelt around their waist. Fucking men.)

My father-in-law was taking a well-deserved break on our deck. Exhausted from all that supervision and second-guessing, he decided to lean RECKLESSLY against the railing like it was put there to keep him from falling off our deck. HELLOOOO! It’s a railing—it’s there to rail. SHIT!

What he didn’t know was that our deck was built with recycled lumber from the Overlook Hotel. Its sole purpose: ruin lives and shelter raccoons that ruin lives. Okay, it was a dual purpose.

When he saw that it clearly wouldn’t support his weight, he offered to pay for a new railing.

So of course, we tore nearly the entire deck up and started all over.


DECK 2: New Blood

DECK 2: New Blood

And okay, fine, most of the “evil” was just slipping and that was probably due to neglect. Letting leaves and snow pile up and rot the wood was my bad. And the only time I stained the deck was when I accidentally spilled a little wine on it.

But I promise to take good care of the new deck. Promise.

[camera pans down, focuses on a deck screw, zooms in, we see a tiny trickle of blood seeping where the screw is embedded into the decking, hold for a moment, we hear breathing, screen goes black]



  1. You spilled the beans about the 10 minute rule!?! Oh snap! Now you’ve upset the balance of the universe and the deck, a servant of said universe, will REALLY get to work tormenting you.
    Just remember you brought it on yourself.

    • jeffandjill

      08/21/2014 at 1:27 pm

      I had no idea. I would edit it out, but thousands* of people have already read the post!!!

      *slight** exaggeration

      **gross exaggeration

  2. In my house, my husband is the one who has the ten minute rule in his favor. I have NO IDEA what the fuck he’s doing in there, but I know that it’s annoying as hell and he does it every single time. So I feel your pain.

    • jeffandjill

      08/21/2014 at 1:32 pm

      I mean, WHAT THE HELL? I’ve even tried waiting until she gets into the car with me to load the kids. But as soon as the buckles are bucked, she runs back into the house without anything more than “Oh wait . . .” And I hate being late, but we always are.

    • My husband waits until we are at least 15 min behind to invoke the 10 min rule. But it’s always, always to poop. Wtf? You’ve needed to go for over an hour and you waited til now? Every. Single. Time.

      • jeffandjill

        01/12/2015 at 1:43 pm

        That is a very specific ritual. I know someone who can’t poop anywhere but in her own home. So even when she goes on vacation, she holds it. Even when that vacation is a week.

        Or so she claims.

        • Oh I have the no poop unless I am at home rule too!
          Even for 10 days!
          There are many funny stories about that…I will share sometime.

          • jeffandjill

            01/16/2015 at 4:28 pm

            REALLY? 10 days?? Do you also eat when you’re on vacation? How . . . I mean what do you . . . where does it . . .HUH??

      • Oh my god Charlene my husband does the same damn thing! Everyone buckled into the car in 95 degree heat and king tut needs to take a leisurly dump!

        • jeffandjill

          01/19/2015 at 9:59 am

          I’m thinking that a King Tut dump would smell like cinnamon and allspice for some reason.

  3. When my son was 6 months old, my ex slipped at the top of the stairs while carrying him and fell all the way down (holding my son). My son sustained a broken arm, and the interrogation at the hospital was harrowing. My ex kept showing everyone the huge bruises on his own ribs so that they would believe him that he really did fall.

    You can understand why it happens, but it really is harrowing when the klieg light is turned on you.

    • jeffandjill

      08/22/2014 at 8:42 am

      Yeah it automatically puts you on the defensive. And defensive sounds a lot like covering up. I’m glad they do it because even if there are 20 false alarms before they find one real case of domestic violence–they still help that one at-risk person.

  4. I think u redid the deck to take away the proof of my fall. Now I can’t sue!!!

    • jeffandjill

      08/22/2014 at 9:26 am

      Those were the first boards we yanked. Then burned. Oh wait . . . I mean . . . I have no idea what you’re talking about! Who ARE you?

  5. Your deck has quite a rap sheet.
    Perhaps a ritual beer can chicken on a grill will appease your deck and you will be able to traverse it safely through the winter.

    • jeffandjill

      08/24/2014 at 10:12 am

      This might actually call for a deep-fried turducken. Deep fried in peanut oil. I’m so hungry right now. Also, we’re getting reports from the deck’s other victims. Which means we’re going to have to have a party with all of those injured by THE DECK FROM HECK (“deck” doesn’t rhyme with “hell”). But they better not touch my motherducken turducken. This is all going to end badly.

  6. The new deck is beautiful and a full=fledged deck, not an expanded catwalk, which is one reason is was evil. It didn’t want to endure the ridicule and scorn because of it’s limited size, so it lashed out at all who walked upon it.

    • jeffandjill

      08/30/2014 at 10:44 pm

      It’s the Jim And Sherry Hoffheimer Skydeck and we’ve already booked Nickelback.

  7. That was one evil, scheming deck. I also observe the 10-minute rule. Nine minutes and 50 seconds is for primal screaming. The last bit is for a touch of lipstick.

  8. The Overlook Hotel! OMG! I just read that book for the first time this summer. I believe that the entire deck was built by the ghost bartender from the Overlook. That is just awesome.

    Stop beating your family. Seriously.

  9. Hahaha, so yeah, is it terrible that I’m the 10 minute rule one in my house? Drives my wife nuts, but I swear that’s not the purpose. Gotta check locks and appliances and make sure I have my pocketed keys in my pocket still and stuff. I’m a bit suspicious about these accidents though. As a cop, I think I’d like to review the evidence with those nurses. Were they hot?

    • jeffandjill

      09/24/2014 at 8:27 am

      Yes, but when WE linger it’s to check for ninjas and such. Wives aren’t checking for ninjas.

      I don’t know if the nurses were hot. In my imagination ALL nurses are hot. My imagination just constantly sets me up for disappointment though. So I must be Jill’s imagination.

  10. I too have slipped on an evil deck and broken my coccyx! I had no idea. I need to think about all the other ways my deck has set me up for failure. That supposedly inanimate piece of rotting meanness is surely out to get me. Thanks, Jeff, for giving me the heads up.

    • jeffandjill

      09/24/2014 at 10:11 am

      It’s a hidden danger. Worse than the ninjas I fight every night. I make them eat the rhubarb. That’s what.

  11. I don’t know how I found you but this made me laugh out loud (or LOL as the cool kids say).
    Our daughter dislocated her elbow playing with her father and they split the three of us up to check stories. As a pleaser it was hard not to give them what they wanted, my husband on a platter, but he had the keys to the car so I told the truth.

    • jeffandjill

      01/13/2015 at 11:51 am

      Haha! Glad you found this place too. I’d give you an oreo but this is just the comments section on a website and I ate them all. I’m glad the nursing staff is doing this inquiry. Even if it means a few uncomfortable moments for innocent guys. Because maybe they can help the ones who are with not-so-innocent guys.

  12. I had no idea the 10 minute rule existed in other places. I’m so happy to have a name for it. My husband is the 10 minute violator. I once caught him back in the house eating the kid’s fruit snacks. In a corner.

    • jeffandjill

      01/15/2015 at 9:37 am

      That’s hilarious! And I can understand if you linger in the house because you’re trying to get some fruit snacks on the sly. At least there’s a reason. Jill just wanders the house, sometimes standing in the room alone, for no reason. She just needs to make sure the air is breathable? I have no idea.

  13. Our decks clearly belong to the same gang. Some sort of carpentry version of the masons. Bad Sandy sent me over and I’m glad she did – great story!

    I’m back after your blog thought my name was spam. I think your deck is upset that I’m onto it.

    • jeffandjill

      01/15/2015 at 9:42 am

      That deck has a powerful reach. Sometimes, I’ll wake up and find myself standing on the deck covered in mayo. Wearing nothing but mayo, surrounded by raccoons.

      I’m sure my deck was behind your visit to my spam folder. I’m sure my deck wanted to be licked.

      Thanks for reading!

  14. jack-n-the-hat

    01/15/2015 at 9:40 am

    My wife is eat up with A.D.D…. I’m lucky if it’s only 10.

    • jeffandjill

      01/15/2015 at 9:57 am

      One of these days I’m going to go back in the house for 10 minutes after she gets in the car. Because I have a theory that she MUST be the last to leave the house. More OCD than ADD. So it will be good to see if she goes back in the house after I have my 10 minutes. If she does, then I will go back in the house after she goes back in the house and I’ll keep repeating the cycle until it’s time for bed and our kids will sleep in the car.

  15. I’m crying laughing at the comments. Thank you for the best laugh!

    • jeffandjill

      01/16/2015 at 8:49 am

      Well on this site the first laugh is free and each subsequent laugh will cost you absolutely nothing.

      And I never thought I would love a comments section so much. It gives me a chance to include things that should have been in the post but we’re left out because my brain has holes in it.

  16. the same thing happened at the hospital but the roles were reversed. My hubby is 6’1″ and 250lbs. I’m 5’0″ and 130lbs. He fell at work and the nurse asked if he “felt safe at home”. His response….”can you ask her to leave before I answer?” JACKASS

    • jeffandjill

      01/16/2015 at 4:29 pm

      Oh man, that made me laugh so hard! Well-played!! That is awesome! I’m so glad you left that comment.

  17. I’m quite sure Stephen King has a draft about an evil deck that he just hasn’t published yet. And now he can’t. ..and the deck will probably be really pissed not to get all famous and shit.

    • jeffandjill

      01/17/2015 at 9:16 am

      That means that STEPHEN KING will be sending his goons. And by goons, I mean demons. And by demons, I mean lawyers. And by lawyers, I mean professionals who advocate for their clients and help them navigate the law.

  18. haha! I’m the 10 min violator in our home. Hubby gets all 3 kids plus crap packed in the car & then I wander the house for 10 short (long) minutes. I usually go back in for a ‘panic pee’, but then the rest of the time is just spent wandering from room to room so that anything I may have forgotten can jump out at me.

    • jeffandjill

      01/17/2015 at 9:23 am

      You and Jill are lost members of the same tribe. It must be some evolutionary hang-up. Some nesting instinct that makes people emergency pee. Maybe it was a way to scent the cave in case other humans wandered in? I’m really going down a rabbit hole here.

  19. I can’t wait to show this post to my husband so he can see that I’m not the only woman in the world who practices the ten-minute rule. He’s out in the car waiting for me.

    • jeffandjill

      01/18/2015 at 10:54 am

      I’ve inadvertently identified a tribe of short-term wanderers. I thought Jill was the only one! But I’m glad to be the support hub and maybe this will spark a national conversation and save countless marriages. Or not.

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