Book Fair week was an exercise in misery. My bronchial issue morphed into a full blown illness on Monday; my face swelled up and I began sneezing and hacking as though possessed. There was little sympathy to be had, and no one seemed concerned when I asked in vain for replacements for my Book Fair shifts; “Those little things are germ factories, don’t worry about it,” one woman assured me when I said dubiously that it didn’t seem right for me to be working around kids whilst ill. I refrained from saying that I did NOT want to be doing ANYTHING or going ANYWHERE while sick. Frankly nobody seemed to care what I did or did not want. Perhaps if I suddenly burst out with bright red chupacabra gills and began spraying mucus and venom at the assembled children, alien-style, someone would have noticed, but then again, maybe not.
I was exhausted on Monday evening after Day 1 Book Fair and my darling Miss L did the dishes and bustled around industriously to put me to bed with tea and lock up the house. Unbeknownst to me, she efficiently made sure the inside doors were all deadbolted and the knobs locked, and in addition, locked all the outside storm door handles. Including the door that I usually use between the garage and the den. The funny thing about this particular door is that if the knob is locked, from the inside it will still turn and allow you to exit; you don’t know the knob has been locked until you try to get back IN. Put a pin in that, okay?
On Tuesday morning I awoke feeling marginally better but still rough. I decided to take a few hours off for illness, and prepared to take Miss L to school. I wore a hooded sweatshirt, combed my hair, but, willing to take a big gamble that I would not have to exit my vehicle if I dropped her off in the school car line, I kept my voluminous buffalo-plaid flannel pajama bottoms on and threw on a pair of Converse. I looked a fright. I left my cellphone in the house, grabbed my wallet, and Miss L and I were off.
After a successful quick dropoff, I pulled into the garage, hopped out, and tried the door to the house. (Pull that pin out.)
The knob was locked. My heart sank. I tried all the keys on my ring, and realized that I did not have a key to that knob. Okay. I was only feeling a little worried. I ran to the front door, trying to be quick so I wouldn’t be spotted in my bright red pajama pants. Tried the front door. THE STORM DOOR KNOB WAS LOCKED TOO. I scrambled through all my keys and NOT ONE FIT THE LOCK. Dear God!!!
The wind was freezing and buffalo plaid flannel pajama pants are not a match for it. I hacked once and scampered around the side of the house. Please don’t let her have hit the back door too…YEP. All storm door knobs locked. All storm door knobs and inside door locks keyed differently and NOT ONE OF THE STORM DOOR KEYS WAS ON MY RING.
Emmett’s face appeared at the window, watching me dubiously. “Get Sarge,” I yelled at him through the glass. Sarge can open doors and in my weakened state, I thought….don’t be ridiculous. My hands were getting numb as I tried all of the downstairs windows – all locked. I could see my cellphone sitting on my table inside, and I thought, DEAR GOD, I’m going to have to go to the neighbor’s house in my PAJAMA PANTS and ask to call a locksmith…with my nose running down my face and my bright red alien gills squirting phlegm and mucus.
Crowbar the door open? Climb up onto the roof and see if a second-floor window was unlatched? The thought of having my neighbors see me crawling around on the roof in my pajamas made me sneeze with angst.
Just then I spotted the small kitchen window, higher up in the wall – the one over my sink. In a blaze of insight I remembered unlatching that window that very morning to throw a toast crust out to the birds and I was almost certain I hadn’t relatched it. I stood on a wobbling lawn chair, my pajama pants flapping gaily in the wind, and to my exquisite relief, the window slid open, sending all of my potted succulents crashing into the sink. Emmett immediately exploded into a furry puffer fish and dashed away into the bowels of the house, but good riddance, he was no help anyway. Could I fit in the window?? It was small. I ran around to the garage, got the stepladder, and brought it back. Up I went. Head in…shoulders in…gosh it was nice and warm inside the house! My nose immediately began to stream. Bracing myself on the counter, I tried to ease my lower half in – and got stuck. Buffalo plaid pajama pants and Converse tennis shoes sticking out of my kitchen window, breath being cut off from the windowsill digging into my tummy….I could almost hear the neighbor looking out her window and dropping her coffee cup. Then, blissfully, I slid all the way in, and landed on my kitchen floor in a welter of icy cold flannel, mucus and crumpled succulents.
The rest of the week was blessedly less eventful, which was good because I haven’t been this sick in a long time. My days shrank to working, driving, catching a quick nap at home before heading up to the school to work until 9ish every night. But the other volunteers were lovely and it was a great feeling to be able to watch teachers shop for books with profits from the prior fairs. Book Fair is like Christmas, and I love being at L’s school. I often wish I had nothing but time on my hands, and money to burn; I would be there all the time, volunteering every day.
On a final beautiful note, B came to town for a quick weekend visit and despite my illness, we were able to fit in sushi, a lot of companionable reading time together, The Darkest Hour, and brunch with his parents at Cafe Zola (Turkish eggs YUM). It went too fast but any time with him is happy.
I don’t plan on doing anything extravagant for the next several weeks. I am faint with relief that I get to go back to my daily routine – no side hustling, period. I hope that your week has gone well and that you never have to test the security of your ground floor establishment clad in buffalo plaid pajama pants. xoxo