Friday, February 16, 2007

My Bad No. 1

In March of 2003 I became a homeowner for the first time. One of my first rites of passage was this little "dramedy in real life," which is the perfect story to introduce a new and noble theme: my stupidity.

If there are certain kinds of things that only happen to me - as my friends tell me they do - then it's either because I'm the victim of a cosmic conspiracy, or I'm just an idjit. And since I'm not quite ready to reason like Dr. Crusher ("If there's nothing wrong with me...maybe there's something wrong with the universe!"--best Star Trek quote ever) that really narrows down the possibilities.

If we can't laugh at ourselves, we go insane. I may be one of the sanest people in St. Louis.

When I moved into my new house, the old owner gave me a big ring full of keys. Most of them seemed to be duplicate keys to the front door. There were also some odd keys, say, to the neighborhood pool & pool bathroom, my mail box down the street, and the inevitable mystery keys.

Quite soon I learned that 5 of the keys did, indeed, fit the front door, while some really similar keys opened the security door with its different set of locks. I started to idly consider rekeying the locks so I only needed one key to get through both deadbolts and both doorknob locks. I also took off just one of each key that I really needed and added them to my personal keyring, to carry with me. I tossed the extra keys into a kitchen drawer.

Soon afterward, I found out that the door between the kitchen and the garage had yet another set of keys. How did I learn this? While going out to my car I thoughtlessly locked the connecting door. I realized this when I missed my car key and wanted to go back in the house to look for it. I tried all the keys I was carrying, which would have opened any of the locks on the front of the house. None of them would open the door between kitchen and garage.

My heart sank. The key I needed to get back inside was in a kitchen drawer inside. I pushed the button on the wall to open the garage door, but it didn't work. The working remote for the garage-door opener was inside my car, which was locked; and my car keys were inside the house, which was locked. My pocket is bulging with keys, many of them related to the house that I can't get into. There are no other doors or windows. The thought actually crossed my mind: "The neighbors will begin to notice a bad smell coming from the garage."

Then I realized that, luckily, I have one of those odd cars whose trunk doesn’t automaticaly lock when you shut it. You actually have to turn the key one way to unlock it, and the other way to lock it. It has a squeeze-handle to open it, which works if it’s unlocked. It was also, luckily, a hatchback. I squeezed the handle to see if I had remembered to lock it when last I opened it. It popped open! Finally, I thought, a stroke of good luck!

I had pushed down the back seat of my car, crawled through the trunk, hit the garage-door-remote clipped to the sun-visor, walked out the front of the garage, and let myself in the front door when it occurred to me that I could have pulled the little "ripcord" to release the garage door and open it by hand. As I went to Lowe's to buy a new set of locks (all on one key), it wasn't the previous owner's stupidity that I cursed.

So there's your first serving of "things that can only happen to Robbie F." If you enjoyed it, come back from time to time. I have many more like it.

TONIGHT'S SOUNDTRACK: Sir William Walton's Symphony No. 2, under the Naxos imprint. Walton (1902-1983) wrote music of terrific energy and strength, handling modern techniques (like twelve-tone themes) with a direct and accessible touch. Sometimes (as in Orb & Sceptre) I think he veered a little to far toward the "popular" side for good taste. In this piece, though, he perfectly balances seriousness with joy. If you're interested in seeing the wide selection of "art music" on the Naxos label, visit the Arkiv Music link at the right.

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