Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Suburban Drama #6,793: In Which I Mortify myself entirely

I should have remembered the warm weather before I started swearing.

You may be aware (by Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, Pigeon Post, Chinese Whispers or simply me shouting it from the rooftops) that I have a fine new door. It has a fine Baldwin handset on it, complete with a fine Baldwin Full Mortise Lock. What this means is even when one has opened and shut the door from the inside several times, the handle on the outside remains locked unless you press a tricky little button inside the lock mechanism.

I have been stuck outside on my front porch a fair few times, since the door was installed in March. Luckily, we are the sort of family who throw the sashes open with abandon, and as such I can often find a ground floor window to crawl through, or find a husband with a spare set of keys. But last Thursday, when Cecilie locked me out as we prepared to take off for the zoo and I realized the window right next to the front door was open (thereby negating the incredible security of the new lock), I resolved to be better at locking all the windows. And lock lock lock I did - checked the locks on all 12 of the downstairs windows.

This morning Cecilie had to be picked up from school at 10.30 and we were heading straight from school down south to Grandma's house, as she & the kids were headed for dentist's appointments in the afternoon. The timing was tricky - had to keep Annika awake until time to go to school, but then knew she'd sleep just enough on the way down. At 10 I got Lars to turn off the 729th viewing of Robin Hood to get shoes on. At 10.10 an acquaintance called to invite us to a cocktail party. At 10.15 I was hanging up the phone, having put all bags/purses/diaper totes/soft blankets out on the porch during the phone conversation. At 10.17 I slammed the door behind me, went to grab the keys out of my purse, and They. Were. NOT. THERE. Not in the diaper tote. Not in the kids bags. Not on the porch floor.

Really, I should have remembered the warm weather before I started swearing. Because dear reader, I hate to offend your sensibilities, but I did swear. And swear and swear and swear.

And then it started to rain.

Here is what I knew: we would now be late to get Cecilie. The extra car key was also inside the house. The other housekey was in a different state altogether, with Torbjorn. All the ground-floor windows were carefully shut and double-locked. Annika was now very tired and would starting weeping any minute. If I got a ladder out to climb in an upstairs window, my 4-yr old and 16-month old would be right up the ladder behind me. And nope, no neighbors have any extra keys. It's a new door! (ish)

Stopped swearing. Called school, let them know I'd be late and hung up quickly before I could hear Cecilie dramatically lamenting whether we'd ever get into our house ever again? Went around the back of the house to get the ladder, with Little Miss Pink PVC Raincoat Jr. close on my heels. Dug out the extension ladder from the pile of rotting autumn leaves, set it up against the house, and considered my ascent.

Luckily, the ladder set-up was as noisy as my swearing. My kindly but very reserved neighbor (who actually grew up in my house), a man of few words, wandered over to the fence, asking now what's all this racket about? I sheepishly explained my predicament, and in his taciturn way commented, well now, whenever I worked on the roof I always set up on the high side of the house. As in, DUH little lady, you're trying to use your dumb ladder to get in the highest window in the house. So I pick up the ladder, carry it around to the other side of the house, and sure enough, if I set it up against the porch roof, it's a mere ladder & a half high, instead of almost 3 stories. Like physics was ever my best subject.

Meanwhile, the third section of the ladder was left against the side of the house, and I hear my neighbors wife calling through her open window NO ANNIKA! Don't you go climbin' up that ladder! No NO baby, don't you GO up there! Little Miss Raincoat was three steps up in the time it took me to run back around the house and pull her off the rungs. Add that to her list (for the DAY) of narrow misses.

Back to the problem at hand. I have these cute little leather slides on, instead of the usual mom clogs, so I kick those off and bravely insist that I will climb up the ladder, onto the porch roof and attempt to break in to my own bedroom windows. But this then means my neighbor has to hold Annika, who is not at all sure she likes him, no matter that he is our Great White Hope at this point.

So in the rain, in bare feet, I try the first window. Locked. Second window: locked. I start to get a little nervous, and irrationally irritated at our rash & sudden window locking exercise. The third window was mercifully unlocked, and as I folded all six feet of me through the opening and the wood blinds, I thought to myself: surely this scene could not get any more mortifying.

Meet Steve downstairs, he hands over a traumatised Annika, and he says with a dry smile, maybe your first stop should be the hardware store to get some keys cut? I try to be graceful and smile, and he goes around to take down the ladder before Lars can get up on the roof. I thank him profusely, again, and as he wanders up the walk to head home he throws over his shoulder 'yeah, we heard all the swearin' and thought maybe you could use a little help with somethin' or other over here'. I kind of laugh, and then stop short. 'all the swearin'? No. Surely noooooo. Yes indeed. My kindly older neighbors, the ones with grandkids of their own, heard me sharing my own little reading from

And thus completes my mortification.

But you know what Cecilie's take on the day was? I love this. She heard me retell the entire drama on the phone to my mom when we finally got on the road, and she pipes up from the back: "isn't it great Mommy? We got LOTS of people to help us today!" Indeed. It takes a village. Especially if the Village Idiot lives on your street.


L-A said...

While I do feel for your situation, I really do, I must also point out that this is what keeps your blogs so (blankity blank) interesting! Reading about it was the next best thing to being there ;-)

Dave Cooper said...

I say this is another example of why women should carry wallets. I carry a spare key in mine. The counter-point is of course, 1) I'll likely suffer from back problems later in life due to the single propped up butt cheek, and 2) women's butts look better when they're symmetrical. Not that I'm looking or anything.

Moxie said...

I love your writing. I really do.

Frantic Holly said...

My thought: You aren't truly a mother until you've been locked out of the house and had neighbors witness it. Especially if the neighbors are ones you don't like. It's happened to all of us. We now have a spare in our shed that has a combination lock.

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