It is often said that the way you ring in the New Year is the same way you’ll end up spending the entire year. Well, if my New Year’s Eve is any indication, I’m headed for yet another rocky year of struggling to get out of the house, get in shape, and beat life’s deadlines. I’m my grandmother’s child, so you know I can’t go out like that!
My granny has a strange obsession with tape and plastic, and has found a way to cover almost everything in our house with them. Chairs, the bathroom sink, windows, the china cabinet, her bed, the dresser, our new washing machine. You name it and she’s taped it down. Or plastered it down. She also loves playing with caulking, but I’ve hidden the caulking gun because granny could do some serious damage with it. Earlier in the week, I discovered that she had found yet another victim to suffocate – the front storm door. She must have run out of tape, because the plastic hung down on one side and kept getting stuck in the front door. With just a couple of hours left in 2008, I performed my customary lock check and decided to take that plastic down. However, after turning one of the locks to open it, the knob turned but the bolt inside the door did not. The dern lock was broken and granny and I were locked in the house. As is typical of many inner city homes and apartments, all of our windows are covered with bars and our front porch is enclosed with a locked gate. And of course I didn’t know where the keys to the emergency window or back gate were. We’d managed to keep the thugs out – and us in. Real smart, Miss J.
I laughed as I envisioned myself screaming for help while trying to throw the keys out the window and across the porch to drunk revelers passing by. I then sobered up and slightly panicked as I remembered that I don’t have good aim, making it likely that the keys would probably land short of their target. It was just as well because, after such a spectacle, I’d probably never be able to show my face in public again and would lose all respect in my hood. Why, oh why?
I then thought about calling a locksmith. However, I wasn’t too fond of having to shell out hundreds more dollars for them to break and replace the front gate’s lock, and then replace the door’s lock. Granny and her invisible friends had already caused me to replace three locks this year. Besides, it was New Year’s Eve. Locksmiths might either be out partying, breaking other people free from their homes, or getting others into their cars. Who knows when they’d show up. What if a fire broke out before they came? We’d be trapped! Always the pessimist, I had visions of a fire breaking out and granny and I burning to death. Fire is another of granny’s – and my – obsessions. A pan of hot fish grease fell on her head when she was about five years old. As a result, she lost hearing in one ear and was permanently scarred. And she constantly checks appliances and electrical outlets. Fire was never far from our minds. Thank God granny is asleep. She’d probably panic and say the invisible people broke the lock.
I’m going to have to remove the lock, I thought. Now, where did we put the tool box? Several years ago, an ex-boyfriend had insisted that I purchase a tool box for my mischievous and handy granny. I’ll have to thank him for that. I had no idea how to remove a lock, but hey, how hard could it be? It’s not like this was the first time I had been trapped behind a door with a broken lock. I babysat for extra money while in college. On one particular evening, I had the displeasure of sitting for two little girls, one of whom was the twin of Damien from the movie The Omen. The evil she-devil slammed doors and screamed because she didn’t want to practice on the piano as her parents had instructed. When she slammed her bedroom door, the door knob fell off and her younger sister and I were trapped inside. I peeked through the empty hole, inspecting it to see if there was some way I could open the door.
“Uh oh. I think we’re locked in,” the little girl said.
No duh, Einstein.
“Now, you have to be quiet. Don’t scream or let your sister know we’re locked in, because she might burn the house down and then we won’t be able to get out,” I told her.
Some might say that was a terrible thing to tell a child. Hey, tell the truth and the truth shall set you free. I was just trying to mentally prepare her. Keep her grounded. Get her to think about consequences before she acted. I, on the other hand, had already assessed the situation. I thought her bratty sister was evil enough to set the house on fire, just to be spiteful because she didn’t want to practice the piano and didn’t appreciate me telling her what to do. I had also noticed that gates covered the windows, and that there would be no way for us to get out of the room if something were to happen. So, I jumped into MacGyver mode and used whatever I could to pry that door open. I managed to open it with a bobby pin and fingernail clipper. Little she-devil never knew what happened.
“How was everything?” the parents asked when they returned.
“Just great. Everything was fine.” All is well that ends well.
I was hoping to repeat that magic during my New Year’s Eve dilemma, but a ringing telephone saved me from myself. My granny’s friend, Sister C, was on the phone and to the rescue.
“Why can’t I catch a break? Why do I always have some drama going on? Why, oh whyyyyyyyy?!” I whined into the phone.
“J, what done happened now chile?”
I explained how I had managed to lock us in the house, and that I was going to remove the lock.
“Lord, come to the meeting!” she exclaimed in her southern drawl.
“J, girl don’t you tear that door down! Wait, lemme get my husband on the phone.” I relaxed somewhat because I knew he could work a screw driver. He’d done housework for us in the past, including fixing our leaking roof and ceiling.
“Yea, breaking and entering. Chile, that’s his thang” she said to me as we waited for him to come to the phone.
I finally explained my predicament to him. He calmly instructed me to use a screw driver to slide the bolt back into the door, to stuff the lock hole with tissue and to tape the hole and the lock so that no one would use it.
Why didn’t I think of that? Here I was, about to take the entire lock off.
“J, here you talkin’ bout takin’ some lock off. And then you’d be sittin’ there with a whole in ya door. Next thang ya know, folks be tryna look in ya house and sayin ‘Ya see, look. They gotta hole in the door.’ Knowin’ you, you be done took off the whole door. And then ya wouldn’t even know how to out it back together.” Sister C said. I laughed as I pictured myself holding a free-standing door and a screw driver. I’ll have to thank my ex for the tool box idea.
But, the drama continued. By 11:00 PM, I decided to try to assemble my new elliptical machine so that I could start the year off right and get in shape. I had set all the parts out on my bedroom floor as indicated in the instruction booklet, only to discover that one of the parts was cracked! I can’t return it to the store because I butchered the box to death just to get the thing out. Now I’ll have to pack the cracked part and mail it to some place east of nowhere for it to be fixed or replaced. I wasted so much money on this machine. Oh well, I’ve started researching a neighborhood gym and other ways of getting in shape.
Why can’t a sista catch a break? Lord, I’m tryna do right and get it together!
Bringing work home is another of my weaknesses. I spent New Year’s at home, editing a 72-page memo.
“J, why do you always get backed up like this?” granny asked me from across the dining room table. “What you need to do when you have a big project is tackle the easy stuff first and then move on to the hard part.”
Since when did granny become so observant and a time management guru?
“You’re right, granny” was all I could say, because I knew that she was right. I’ve found myself up against and being beat by deadlines more times than I care to remember.
But, it’s a new year and a time for new beginnings! I’m gonna get mine in 2009!