Beware the killer coral–a cautionary tale from the beauty salon

One of the great things about any kind of beauty treatment is the opportunity to overhear other women’s stories. This one is a cracker. In the massage chair next to the Crone this morning was a beautiful blonde woman. Like the Crone, she was having a pedicure. There, the similarity between the two women ended. She was backcombed, made up, perfectly turned out and dripping with diamonds. And the Crone was not. It turned out the beauty, her husband and two kids are living at the Intercontinental Montelucia until a home they have rented becomes available. They are here because 3 weeks ago a huge salt water fish tank they had specially commissioned for their custom-built home in Paradise Valley had sprung a stress fracture and poured 685 gallons of water all over their house. “It took out a 70 inch TV in the family room and spurted everywhere.  It kept on rolling until it reached my son’s room at the end of the hall”  Now perhaps your initial reaction is much like the Crone’s ” More fool you for having more money than sense” but actually, by the end of the tale, the Crone was feeling genuinely sorry for the family with the fish tank. It turns out that, because the water was salty and full of fish and coral, it was also full of bacteria. The high pressure hosing from the fish tank spread bacteria all over the west wing of the house ” We had servicemaster and the aquarium man but then an environmentalist told us to get out and now the EPA will have to come this week to certify that the house will ever be safe again”  The story of the damage is completely overwhelming ” Everything the water touched had to be ripped out. There was a tractor in my hallway chewing up my travertine marble. It took out 3 bathrooms on that side of the house, the kids bedrooms and the playroom. All the wet plaster had to go–the walls have been taken back to the studs at the bottom. We’ll be out of there for 6 months, maybe 8. All the kids clothes had to be trashed or specially cleaned because they were hanging in closets where the floor got wet. ” The family does not intend to replace the fishtank.

And the fish? Well, they too lived to tell the tale. The family ran about in bare feet and PJs (the leak was discovered at 7am) and managed to scoop the exotic marine life into tupperware containers that had contained the children’s toys. Everyone developed tummy and respiratory problems because of exposure to the bacteria in the dirty water, and of course the toys have had to be binned because they got wet. But the aquarium man took the fish and has promised to find them good homes. Oh, and the insurance company has said it will pay out, although it has some questions to ask the aquarium man. All her own questions answered, the Crone eased herself out of her massage chair and took herself and her ten bright red toes back to her patio. She can hardly wait for tomorrow’s blow dry and another exciting instalment from someone else’s life.

About Liz Barron

US Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia. Permanent address in Washington DC. Deep roots in Northern Ireland and persistent Belfast accent. Blogger,cook, mother, grandma, Scrabble-player and enthusiastic world traveler.
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