Pharrell Would Be Happier with a Securely Bolted Roof

"The Roof Is Not on Fire," flash fiction by Thomas Rowley

Pharrell Would Be Happier with a Securely Bolted Roof

The Roof Is Not on Fire: Dispatches from the Roofing Association of America

March 8, 2019

Dear Citizen,

We at the Roofing Association of America have watched with deep consternation as a sentiment opposing sensible roofing has spread through our culture. To appeal to the public today it seems all you have to do is loudly proclaim your antipathy towards the many benefits which roofs and ceilings offer us. “I’m happy,” Pharrell extols, a feeling which he elaborates is “like a room without a roof.” Have you ever been in a room without a roof sir?! If you spent a substantial amount of time there “happy” would be the last thing you would be. That song should rightfully be called “wet and cold.”

A man named Macklemore boasts about how he and his friends are having such a wonderful time that “the ceiling can’t hold us.” I can’t convey in strong enough terms to the public: If you are in a domicile where the ceiling can’t hold the people within it, please leave immediately. Either you are congregating in a stacked fashion, or the ceiling is extraordinarily low, well below the standards that the RAA recommend.

The net effect of these anti-roof sentiments could prove disastrous for the next generation. If you want to imagine the future, picture a man at home surrounded by his young children, open to the elements. “We’re cool!” the man yells as the snow and sleet descends on him.

To avoid such a future, the RAA will be releasing catchy songs with pro-roofing messages this summer. If you are a roofing enthusiast we would implore you to keep your eyes and ears alert for our songs. You will be able to purchase them on the RAA website, or at your nearest roofing store. You should also attend the most popular nightclub in your area and request them off the DJ—I know from personal experience that determined and repeated queries do work in these scenarios. The songs you will be requesting include “The Proof is in the Roof” and the romantic ballad “You Keep Me Dry.” The latter, written by Sandra Herkel, has the beautiful chorus:

“You keep me safe
You keep me dry
And when I’m with you
I can’t see the sky”

Citizen, I hope you will join us on this path to ensuring a sturdy, dry, and secure life for the next generation of Americans.


Frank Hammer

RAA President

Windham, ME

Elizabeth Hammer to Jane Thornton, May 14, 2019:

Dear Jane,

It was so nice to see you again at the Ladies Association Dinner before Christmas. My how we’ve all changed since our wild days of sneaking on to the range for “night practice” and all those hours we would simply spend in the locker room without a care, just talking.

Such a pleasant night. Everyone looked so well.

And how is Henry? We pick up the Windham Gazette most any time we’re in town. Such a well edited read. Frank agrees with me.

In fact I’m writing because there might be a neat opportunity coming up for our two “boys” to work together on something! Henry might recall the ladies cup ceremony in March 2017, when Frank told him about his newfound interest in roofing safety. You’ll remember I was worried about Frank for a short while after he retired. But then he discovered this, and it’s so good now. It’s made him young again. Isn’t it funny—we want our men to grow up so badly sometimes, then when one day they do, we miss what’s gone.

I’ve enclosed a special letter that Frank has been working on, which we’ve been trying to get into the papers every which way we can. The mainstream media is a tough nut to crack for two old timers like us. And then we thought of you. Perhaps Henry might like to publish it in his newspaper. As you’ll see it’s all very exciting. Maybe he could even do a special piece on it.

Let’s meet up soon.

Lizzie Hammer

Frank Hammer to Rick Hollywood, August 3rd, 2019:

Dear Mr. Hollywood,

It has been a long time since I was a fan of any particular musician. If you were to ask my old work colleagues, “Is Frank Hammer a music man?” they simply would have laughed.

That has all changed.

You’ve heard of Beatlemania, well “Rick Hollywood mania” has swept through our house. Ever since our only daughter gave me a copy of your CD, The Maine Line, for my birthday this has become a house of music. There was even one night when my wife Lizzie and I stayed up till 2 a.m. listening to it on a loop (our cd player has a repeat function). Each time “Wide Eyed Windham Girl” played I would twirl her, so much so that she got to giggling. Your music does good things to people.

I see from your vibrant website that you offer personalized recordings. I would like to make a proposition to you that would go beyond those to produce something of national importance. I believe that with the broad national themes that our songs contain, you could reach a wider audience than you’ve ever anticipated.

Please see enclosed a clipping from the Windham Gazette, raving about our organization and our dedication to civic improvement. I’ve also attached a number of the songs, written by Sandra Herkel, who you may know from the slurry safety commercials.

Yours Sincerely,

Frank Hammer

RAA President

Elizabeth Hammer to Ivan Crampshaw, November 13th, 2019:

Dear Ivan,

First of all, thank you. You were nothing but kind to us in extending the use of SpiderX nightclub to us for our special event. We, and I speak for my husband here too, had no intention of causing you any trouble.

Indeed, if we look back at the facts of that evening, much of it is positive.

For 5:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, we brought one hell of a crowd. It looks like our extensive leaflet campaign and door-to-door visits really worked to generate buzz. When Rick Hollywood took to the stage, oh boy, it was a boogie.

The evening held many surprises. That is another fact we can agree on. My husband Frank is not a man who shows his emotions. When he stood up there in front of everyone—his old colleagues from Morehaven Timber, Dr Halpin, our daughter Glenda who flew in from Seattle—“oh jeez,” I thought, “I can hear his voice begin to shake.”

I have received your correspondence about what then occurred. I have chosen not to show it to my husband, but to answer you myself. 

Yes, our event was due to finish at 8 p.m., and in our defense we were prompt in wrapping up our merchandise table and decorations.

We intended to stay for just one drink, and then all those youngsters arrived for the night’s bop – the very demographic that the RAA so urgently wants to connect with.

As I understand it, one part of a DJ’s job is to respond to the desires of the crowd in front of him. Since we made up a substantial portion of that crowd—I estimate 1/3 at 8 p.m. and 1/20th at 10:30—we had a right to hear the songs we desired. In rotation we approached the DJ and requested the songs from the RAA album. Out of 25 requests he only responded to 3 of those. Those 3 were modest hits, despite what you wrote in your letter.

It was on the 26th request that the trouble really began. The DJ was quite brusque with my husband. In time this escalated to rudeness. He then chose to play a song that he knew would be deeply offensive to Frank. I did not catch the name of the song, but the loud lyrics spoke of a roof being set alight.

Frank tried to yell above the noise, waving his arms for attention. When this failed he attempted to stop the music in every way he could.

And now here we are.

I have enclosed a personal cheque which will cover both damages to the DJ’ing equipment, and the DJ’s wrist injury. I am being generous and in return I would like to ask the same of you.

As you get older, new and perfect moments are rare. Moments you’ll look back on and wish you could just take a bath in them. You have many of those ahead of you, Ivan. Frank and I do not. If you can send a letter apologizing to Frank, you don’t have to mean it, but just say it, then I can get to work shaping this memory into one of the better ones.

Be sure not to mention the cheque, that’ll be our little secret.

Please be kind,

Lizzie Hammer

Frank Hammer to Ivan Crampshaw, December 10th, 2019:

Dear Mr. Crampshaw,

I read your apology with great satisfaction, and in response I have only one thing to say.

Go Fuck Yourself.


Frank Hammer

RAA President

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