You’d think that fact would be obvious. You’d think the countless reminders with which I’m presented daily would permanently implant the message in my thick skull that I’m not in my twenties anymore.
Still, I forget. Still, I sometimes engage in the behavior of a young woman.
Take the evening I met Brenda and Alexandra at a busy bar on a busy Friday night right after work. This was when both my job and my separation from Alan were new and I was exhausted.
This made it much like the Friday nights straight out of college when, fatigued from my new world of 9 to 5 career building, I’d head straight from the office to home to collapse in a heap. The alternative, and this was a 50/50 equation, was that I’d go out drinking pitchers of cheap beer with my colleagues and then head home drunk as a skunk to collapse in a heap.
This Friday night with my two long-time friends I drank 3 vodka gimlets. Brenda gets the credit for introducing me to the delights of this drink. When a vodka gimlet is good it plays with your palette, gliding with such smoothness down your throat that it tickles along the way. That’s what these were like, all three of them. I couldn’t resist that tantalizing tickle gliding across my tongue, down my throat and into my stomach.
When I was 23, I didn’t own a car but could always rely on someone being happy to drive me home on drunken Friday nights.
But now I’m older and a car owner. The time was clicking rapidly out on my parking meter and I had to get myself home. Only a mile and a half, all on city streets, but driven and intoxicated. Absolutely do not try this one yourself.
I walked in the back door. I remembered to take the keys out of the lock, lock the door behind me, put the keys in their usual spot in the drawer and take off my boots so I didn’t track slush all through the house, this being March.
Next thing to do was to check the mail. I walked (make that weaved) through the kitchen, dining room and living room, to arrive safely at the front door, which I opened, stepped out of and let close behind me. I pulled the mail out of the box and turned to open the door which, of course, just as it has for all of the 20 years I have lived in this house, had locked automatically behind me.
I was wearing a dress, a wool coat and bare feet, locked out of my house at 9:30 p.m. on a Friday night. The peaceful stillness of a snowy evening settled all around me. My drunken brain struggled to grasp the situation. Then I remembered that I’d exchanged keys with my neighbor to the east, just in case such a situation should arise.
Clutching my mail in one hand, I made a beeline for her door and rang the bell. I waited, then rang again. I waited, then rang yet again. No answer.
I staggered back to the sidewalk and headed for my neighbor to the west. Not that he had my key, but at least he could provide shelter from the cold. I rang his bell. I waited, then rang again. I waited, then rang yet again. No answer.
Now I was in a pickle, a far- from- 20 -something year old, standing alone in the dark and cold of a March Friday night in a coat and bare feet, clutching her mail to her chest.
A thought penetrated the drunken haze of my brain. That thought was that chances were good that my divorced acquaintance, Rhonda, who lived with her mother a mere two blocks away, could be counted on to be home on a Friday night.
I headed east the half block to the corner, turned south for a short block, then turned west to the middle of the block. Rhonda’s house!
I rang the doorbell. No answer. I rang again. No answer.
I bobbed and weaved my drunken way to the back, climbed up the steps to the deck and rang the kitchen doorbell.
Her mother answered! Her mother let me in!
Now, the not-20-something me had to hide the fact from this sweet woman that I was drunk as a skunk. After all, she was a mother! Older even than me. An authority figure looming from my childhood past.
“Hello Mrs. Wennerstrom. So sorry to bother you. I seem to have locked myself out of my house and none of my neighbors are at home to let me in.”
“You poor dear,” she said. She looked down and saw my feet. “Georgia, darling, your feet are bare and red with cold! Slip off your coat and go curl up on the couch. I’ll be there right away with some warm blankets.”
Sure enough, within moments I was supplied with hot tea. Warm blankets swaddled my cold feet.
She sat down and said, “What are we going to do about your little problem, my dear?”
I asked for a phone and a telephone book, both of which she supplied immediately. I called my neighbor to the east who was, as it turned out, home with a non-functioning front door bell. I told her I’d be right over to pick up my spare key.
Mrs. Wennerstrom said, “Why don’t you wait a bit. Rhonda will be home in 15 minutes. Then you won’t have to go traipsing through the snow and cold again in your bare feet.”
Oh, but I’m an independent woman, aren’t I? I can take care of myself. Never mind that I’ve gotten myself into trouble thinking that more than once (refer to Ah Have Always Depended Upon…) Plus, enough alcohol is still coursing through my brain to muddle my thinking.
I was bound and determined to finish this Odyssey under my own steam, bare feet or not.
I left behind sweet Mrs. Wennestrom and her warm, cozy home. I headed east a half a block, north a block, west a half a block in my wool coat and bare feet, clutching my mail to my chest.
Turbulent thoughts of blame whizzed around in my head, all directed at ex-husband, Alan. Of course, it’s all his fault. If it weren’t for his perfidy, I’d be home safe, warm and dry. Amazing how husbands and ex-husbands can be made to take the blame for such a variety of stupid actions with which they had nothing to do.
I stopped to pound on my neighbor’s door. She handed me the key, I happily opened my own door, closed it tight behind me, stripped off my clothes as I climbed the stairs to my room and collapsed in a heap in the warmth of my bed.
Where I slept soundly through the night, just like a 20-something-year old.
None of you have ever been this foolish. Or have you?