Jerry Zezima: Withering heights

Jerry Zezima, Tribune News Service on

Published in Lifestyles

All my life, I thought I would end up in the gutter. And last week it almost happened. So it’s a good thing I have gutter guards.

I got them because leaves, twigs and acorns had clogged the gutters so much that there was barely room for my mind, which was in there too.

When my wife, Sue, and I moved into our house 25 years ago, the gutters didn’t have guards. I had to climb to the top of the two-story Colonial to clean out the leaves every fall.

I came to the frightening realization that the word “fall” could also apply to me. That’s because I have acrophobia, which is an extreme fear of heights. Since I am 6 feet tall, this means I am afraid of being any higher off the ground than the top of my head.

So we got gutter guards, which enabled me to stand safely on terra firma instead of shaking like a leaf on the roof, where I could almost see people in passing airplanes laughing at me.

When we got a new roof a few years ago, our ace contractor, Anthony Amini, took me up there to check out the job and alleviate my fears. It didn’t work because one of my sneakers became untied and I just stood there, frozen in terror and afraid to bend over to lace up my size 11 shoe. Anthony kindly did it for me.


After I climbed down, which took roughly as long as the Super Bowl halftime show, I vowed never to go up on the roof again.

A couple of years ago, Anthony and his great crew replaced the siding on the house and installed new gutters. Unfortunately, they didn’t come with guards.

Not wanting rain spillage to get behind the siding and damage the walls, and refusing to relive haunting memories of the days when I had to clean the gutters myself, I arranged for Anthony and his terrific assistant, Carlos Garcia, to put on new gutter guards.

They came over with several boxes of the thick metal strips, which are perforated to allow rain through but which prevent gutters from being filled with ugly brown foliage and other disgusting gunk.


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