We’re housesitting for Caleb’s parents this week. It’s Thursday, and I know Caleb won’t be home for a couple hours. I left work early to rush home, there’s a swimming pool waiting for me. Pulling in the driveway at 5pm, I run through the house: in the front door, let the dog out of her room, pull off my clothes to put on my bathing suit, back out the back door in 45 seconds or less. I follow through on my momentum all the way off the diving board, nine hours of work gone in a plunge.
I swim a couple laps and then get back out. I’ve got a full evening agenda planned, workout, bath in the jacuzzi tub, painting my toenails. I want to be found completely at peace and cooking dinner when Caleb gets home. I wrap myself in a towel and reach for the back door.
Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.
Okay, so I’m locked out. No big deal. This is fine, I’m fine.
I reach for my phone to call Caleb in a SOS, what’s the garage code, how on earth can I get in, panic. Then I look through the window. My phone is sitting on the kitchen table.
This is why we are addicted to our phones. This is why we view them as extensions of our body. Because you just never know when you will be thrust into a near death situation with only a tiny dog companion. No one’s gonna praise your disconnectedness at your funeral when it was a direct contributor to your demise. Stay on the grid.
Upon realization that I am trapped outside with only my own strength, I instantly become a cast member on survivor and a kidnapping victim that must keep herself alive all at once. Let’s take stock of our resources: I don’t know what time it is, but probably around 5:20. Caleb might not be home until 7:30. I have a tiny dog named Sophie, a container of blueberries, and zero clothes. It’s Oklahoma summer, and I’m already sweating in fear and humidity. I have no idea if there’s a hide-a-key, but there are at least 35 flowerpots around the front and back yard. There’s a garage, but I don’t know the code. There are two doors, and a lot of windows.
Let’s do this.
Stage one: make sure there isn’t entry through a conventional method. Sophie and I start to pace around the house like stalkers. We try every window, every door. We consider whether we could scale up to the roof and decide no one will be there to call the ambulance so it isn’t worth the risk. We discover how to get to the front yard from the back yard (after trying to climb the fence once) and try our hand at the garage code. After at least one thousand guesses, we abandoned hope. Reality is beginning to close in around us, we will have to find another way.
Step two: find a key. Towel tied around me (all those beach fashion articles I read really do pay off) I start in on a flowerpot lifting marathon. I examine at least 105 flower pots, inside and outside, to make sure they don’t harbor the key to the kingdom. I am very proud of my perseverance; I wouldn’t die in an emergency situation, no sir. I’m a SURVIVOR. Well a survivor until there’s absolutely no hide-a-keys to be found, that is.
This is a break in our regularly scheduled programming to remind you what this looks like. I am dripping wet, in only a one piece bathing suit, sweating profusely, running back and forth around the house lifting up flower pots, and looking visibly irritated. My only companion is a tiny fluffy dog who will not shut up, and I interchangeably agree with her and tell her to be quiet.
Step three: Okay, so traditional methods aren’t working out. That’s fine. We’re innovative and clever. I start to really take stock of my materials. I don’t have a credit card, but surely something can finagle this door open. The BLUEBERRIES. I’ve been snacking on them sparingly to keep my sugar levels up, but it’s worth the sacrifice. I pull off the lid with my teeth and they scatter across the concrete. Sophie starts trying to eat them, so I have to scramble to beat her to all of them cause honestly who even knows what’s poisonous and nothing’s worse than being locked outside with a dead dog. I tear the plastic into a shape that is equal blunt dagger and hopefully magical door opener. Sophie watches in horror as I wiggle it into the door frame, succeeding at nothing but scraping off some paint. Minutes pass that way, me making eye contact with my phone on the kitchen table, wrestling blueberry plastic in between the wood to no avail. Nothing. I must have something else. I start wandering around the yard, in the shed, through the front yard, looking for something to open the door. They probably taught you how to pick locks in the girl scouts, didn’t they? I knew I should’ve been a freakin girl scout. I’m trying scraps of metal, ice scrapers, my own fingers, anything. It’s all hopeless. I will not be let in, and I’m beginning to submit myself to a life in the outdoors.
It’s okay, Sophie and I can live here. We’ll swim in the pool, and eat some leaves, and learn to thrive here. It’s fine. I throw myself down on the outdoor sofa, admittedly if you have to be trapped outside this is not a bad place. I pick up a Pottery Barn magazine and try to leaf through it, but I can’t muster up care for fine home furnishings in my distress. My plans are flashing before my eyes. What about the work out? What about the dinner? What about the BATH? I think of all I could be accomplishing on my phone. I could be working if only I had my phone! I could be building relationships! I could be WATCHING NETFLIX!
Okay, this is all I test. I am too accustomed to capitalistic society! I don’t need to be productive to be a human! I am valuable without work! PLEASE LET ME IN THIS HOUSE NOW.
Newly crazed, I take to the streets. “Sophie, I’ll be back for you. Hopefully this time with a plan.” I run out into the road, burning my feed on the asphalt and trying to remember if I know any neighbors. After 10 minutes without a single human sighting, I remember I met the neighbors to the left at a wedding. Taking a deep breath and wrapping my towel tighter around me, I walk up to ring their door bell. … … Nothing. I resume to my interchangeable pacing and hiding up by the house. It’s been 20 minutes and I have yet to spot another human being. What is this, the Siberian plains? Where is everybody? It’s a Thursday evening, surely one of you has a dog to walk. I pace up and down the grass, walk back to check on Sophie. She’s beginning to look emaciated, I need to figure something out and fast or it’s going to be the end of both of us. I walk past the neighbor on the right, up… down… up… down, and I nod my head with resolve. I’m going in.
I walk up to the glass door, only to be met by an elderly woman and two small dogs, creating a racket. She looks at me, eyes passing my crazed frenzy, my swimsuit, and my desperation, “You locked out, honey? I have a key.”