The entire week's housework somehow gets shoved into Sunday afternoon, like the entrance gate at Disneyland on the first morning of spring break.
"Did you wash my shirts yet?" Spouser asks, tapping his pointer finger sharply on the kitchen countertop. "Where's that stack of bills I left here yesterday?"
"In the office, and I'll finish the wash when I get back from the store," I reply, grabbing my wallet. "Did you empty the cat boxes?"
"I need the cat litter first," he answers. "What's for dinner?"
Half our day passes like a Vancouver tourist running from a Grizzly Bear. About an hour before sundown, our dog Cheech is begging for her daily walk. Somehow I manage to convince Spouser he needs to take a break from work and go for a stroll with us. He agrees reluctantly, thus fulfilling his good deed of the day quota.
Back home, we turn the handle and realize the front door is locked. "Give me the key," I say.
"Key?" he replies, eyes bugged out like a blowfish. "YOU are the one with the keys."
When these kinds of things happen, it's like time stands still. It's like the tourist gets caught by the bear and the world stops turning. It's just too awful to go on. I tap my foot and think about the several assignments due tomorrow. Spouser cracks his knuckles and remembers the work stacked up on his desk, not to mention dinnertime has arrived for us, Cheech and those who are sitting on the window ledge, looking out at us: the cats.
"Don't worry," I say. "Remember the guy who opened the car for me years ago, Pop-A-Dude? Let's call him."
Luckily, Spouser has his loyal Jezebel (iphone) in his pocket. He googles Pop-A-Lock's 24-hour emergency number, and the operator informs him we'll be put on a waiting list and it may take a few hours.
"They are backed up with idiots who have locked themselves out," Spouser bemoans. We Google again and call the ONLY other locksmith service open on Sunday afternoons. A fellow named Chuy tells us in broken English that he'll be at our home within 30 minutes. So we park ourselves on the wooden swing in the back yard and try to think of this, glancing at our watches every five minutes, as a positive learning experience.
It's the first week of spring, and signs of the earth coming back to life are all around us. The Easter lilies have appeared from the damp soil and are bent like ballerinas taking their final bow. They'll soon open and stand tall as if worshiping the sun.
"We should really give a key to the neighbors," I suggest, "in case this happens again."
"Is that tree naked?" Spouser asks, pointing at a trunk and its bare branches.
I squint at a procession of leafcutter ants doing what looks like the Hokey Pokey down the west side of our sidewalk, each carrying a piece of foliage twice its size. Rising from the swing, I bend over and watch them curiously. Each ant seems to pause before entering a hole in the ground behind our swing and do a quick cha-cha-cha maneuver to fit their cargo down into the opening. "Amazing."
I take my seat and notice several hummingbirds whipping to and fro from the three feeders hanging from the porch. A male, with a brightly-colored green breast, flies forward, backward, up, down and then abruptly pauses, hovering like a swimmer treading water. From the neighbor's tree, another hummingbird swerves into the first bird's path, and they do an awe-inspiring aerial dance up and over the top of the house.
It's no wonder spring is the time many cultures celebrate the renewal of new life. It's intoxicating. "Can you smell that?" I ask, reclining and inhaling deeply, slowly.
Spouser looks over at Cheech, who has struck her "poop pose," tail bent like the number seven and is taking a dump, partially obstructing the leafcutters' trail. The ants look confused for a minute, make a detour and then continue on their journey.
"Smell THAT?" Spouser asks.
"No, Silly, smell the jasmine from the neighbor's vine?"
He can't smell the nose to spite his face, but the power of spring and its regenerative and stimulating powers have not escaped Spouser, evidenced by the fact he's trying to neck with me in the great wide open.
"Not here," I say, pushing him away, looking around for someone who is probably watching through the fence. In fact, there ARE a multitude of eyes peering at us: two belong to Cheech, and the other dozen belong to the cats gazing through the window — all waiting to see when their supper will appear.
"Let me call him again," I say, dialing Chuy's number.
"I'll be there in 30 minutes," he says.
"You said that over an hour ago," I remind him gently, giving him our address for the second time.
Desperate, we circle the house looking for a way in. But there's no breaking in. With bars on every window and double locks on all the doors, which are also covered by locked bars, the cats might as well be jailed in San Quentin.
I sit back on the swing and begin singing ninety-nine-bottles of beer on the wall; ninety-nine-bottles of beer… Spouser joins in, and we croon down to fifty. "All that about beer, and now I've got to go to the baaaa-th-room," I whine.
"Squat over there." Spouser points to a secluded area behind the pool pump, right under a wasps' nest.
"Nothin-doin!" I declare and call Chuy one more time.
This time he doesn't answer. His voicemail says, "Chuy's close today; llĂˇmeme maĂ±ana."
We're about to start walking to who knows where when Pop-A-Dude pulls into our driveway! It turns out to be the same Pop-A-Dude, only with more gray hair, as the one who rescued me years ago. He recognizes me and starts to make a run for it. But, remembering the dude is a cat lover, I point to the hungry felines lined up in the window, and he concedes.
"These locks have to be as old as…," Dude says. He pauses and looks over at me, his eyes move up and down like a lukewarm iron on a pair of stubborn wrinkled trousers.
"Please don't say it," I request.
He doesn't, and by the fourth door, he's finally able to break us in. As a parting gift, and whether Pop-A-Dude likes it or not, I hand him a copy of Bike Lane, my first book in which he made his big debut. "Now you'll get to be in my next book Pit Stop Under the Overpass," I announce.
"Gee, thanks," he says, taking his check and tossing the book into the back seat of his minivan.
Before going to bed, I turn my calendar from February to March and think about the lengthening of days and warm velvety breezes that blow in springtime. And I realize that sometimes we're forced to observe beauty, whether we like it or not.
Post your comment on this column or about your locked out experiences. If you're interested in getting your very-own copy of Gina's book Life in the Bike Lane, they have a few left at www.Amazon.com.