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If I were glueless, I'd be clueless

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It was a bit odd. The staircase rose in all its 1900s self-importance. But it went nowhere. It just disappeared into the ceiling.

Queenie, from whom we'd bought our new home, suggested that we might contrive a unique decorative feature by balancing a tropical fish tank halfway up this surreal stairway. (We noticed, however, that she had never taken her own advice.) But I had boldly claimed there would be no problem removing the staircase.

Queenie's parents had divided this house in two sometime in the 1950s. It enabled them to sell the upper half as a separate domicile, with its own outside stairs and a front door where a window had been. In this way, they could afford to stay in the lower half. But they had spent as little as possible on the conversion. Thus the unremoved staircase.

The dismantling of the stairway quickly established itself as a priority. But I knew our neighbors owned its upper reaches, rising from a small landing to a larger one. If the lower stairs were taken away, how could one be sure the higher ones would not consequently disintegrate?

One could not be sure. But I am always impressed by others' advice when it agrees with my opinion. And with such assurance, I one day took hold of a crowbar, a wide chisel, and a claw hammer, and (with apologies to Marcel Duchamp) ascended the staircase - fully clothed - and set to work at the very top.

They knew how to make things properly in 1900. The first part was vigorously resistant to my prying and walloping. But at last it came away; then the rest of the staircase creaked and sprang apart, riser after tread after riser after tread, until in no time the hall floor had a pile of large pine boards on it - and no staircase. This unexpected obligingness took me by surprise.


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