Saturday, June 18, 2011

While I've Been Gone

The fruit bat
Two weeks ago:
I arrive at my brother's house to dog sit while he and his wife travel. The dog is a Chihuahua pup, untrained, looks like a fruit bat. Sweet little thing but yappy and hyper beyond belief. She's like a two year old, constantly into things she shouldn't be. She needs a vigilant caretaker. Thank goodness for my two teenage grand-nieces who want to stay with me and help. They play with the fruit bat, remind me to take the garage door opener when we leave each morning, and check to make sure the two inner doors are left unlocked as there are no keys for them.

One week ago:
The fruit bat goes to bed at 9 and wakes at 4:30. She yaps incessantly. She needs a dental bone each morning, a treat each afternoon. She knows when to expect such things and if they are not forthcoming, she climbs whatever leg is available and screeches. While we are gone for the day, she chews shoes, loose paper, pillows, blankets, rug edges, curtains, pencils, the cat. The high pitch of her voice echoes in my fillings. I am beyond exhaustion. I am counting the days until her owners return.

Last night: 10:30 pm
The girls are taking a break to visit their dad. I am on my own for the weekend. I throw the bouncy ball for the fruit bat to fetch, make dinner, hold one end of the old necktie while the fruit bat tries wresting it from my grip, clean the kitchen, throw the rubber bone for the fruit bat to fetch, put out the cat, throw the squeaky toy for the fruit bat to fetch, tidy the house, throw the rag doll for the fruit bat to fetch, try to read. Finally it's time to put the fruit bat in her crate and go to bed. I brush my teeth, turn out the lights, lock the outer doors and fall into bed.

I lay thinking. Those two unlocked doors bother me. What if the outer doors are breached? What if the cat is still in the garage? What if... I get out of bed, check the garage for the cat and lock the inner door behind me. I go upstairs and turn the lock on the second inner door. A little voice in my ear says, "Oh boy! The last time you did this you locked yourself out of the house. You had to make an embarrassing phone call to Maine to ask where the spare key was hidden. You better leave these doors unlocked."

I scoff. "I'll just write myself a note that the doors are locked and unlock them before I go out in the morning," I tell the voice. UNLOCK INNER DOORS I scrawl and put the note in the middle of the kitchen counter where I'll see it first thing. I climb back in bed and sleep peacefully until the fruit bat wakes me at 4:15 a.m.

Saturday: 4:30 a.m.
I stumble into the kitchen and turn on the kettle. I scoop some cat food and step out into the garage to fill the dish. I close the door carefully behind me so the fruit bat won't escape. I turn to go back into the house. The door is locked.

Saturday: 4:35 a.m.
It's still fairly dim outside. There's a fog that drifted in last evening after the rain and the garage floor is damp and chilly on my bare feet. I can't believe I've done it again. I am good and truly locked out. The fruit bat is locked in. Along with my car keys, the spare key, the phone, my purse... I say every curse word I know.

Saturday, 4:47 a.m.
I look around the garage for something with which to pry open the lock when my eyes fall on my bicycle. My bike! I pause. I am a 65 year old woman wearing nothing but a thigh length nightshirt. It is only five o'clock in the morning. My hair  is not combed. But my niece has a spare key and her house is only a mile and a half away. She will surely be asleep but I'm desperate. So is the fruit bat. I can hear her little claws ticking on the floor. I can hear her yipping. I pray that the rest of the neighborhood is still sleeping. I don't want anyone who knows me to see what I'm about to do.

Saturday 5:00 a.m.
I pass house after sleeping house. I hold the handlebar with one hand and tug my nightshirt down with the other as I pedal furiously along the road. I have no hands left to slap mosquitoes. I leave the side street and turn onto the main road. I bend my head, pedal as fast as I can and hope feverishly that no one who knows me will drive by.

Saturday: 5:06 a.m.
I stand shivering on the doorstep, my hair plastered against my head, looking, I'm sure, like something raised from the dead, and pound on my niece's door. No sound from within. I pound again. Please, please open the door! She does, looking at me with alarm. "What's wrong?" she asks as I duck past her.

"I did it again," I say. "I locked myself out of your parent's house just like last year. Can I borrow your key?"

She looks me up and down. "Did you walk here?"

"I rode my bike," I say.

"In that?" She points to my nightshirt.

"Yup," I admit, "And I have to hurry back before traffic starts up."

She begins to chuckle. Then she snorts. She guffaws. Finally she leans over double, ha-ha-ing and hee-hee-ing as I shift from one bare foot to the other.

I hold out my hand and she puts the key into it. Nothing has made me this happy in a long time. I clench it in my fist, dash out the door and grab my bike. I can still hear my niece as I pedal off down the drive.

I hear a car behind me and as I dare to look up, I see another headed in my direction. I duck my head again just in case. Whoever it is gives a cheery toot. I have no free hand to wave. I just pedal on, turning down the street toward my brother's house. A dog barks as I fly past. Around the corner, up the slight incline and into the drive. The fruit bat is at the window, barking furiously. I drop the bike, lunge up the front steps and unlock the door, slipping inside just as the newspaper man turns into the drive. I hear the paper thud against the garage from the safety of the house. He toots as he drives away. My heart is racing.

Saturday: 5:13 a.m.
The fruit bat is so excited to see me she pees on the floor. Then she poops. I stand there panting. She dashes off for the kitchen and leaps at the treat bucket.

"Not a chance in hell," I tell her.

I clean up the mess, unlock the inner doors, make a cup of steaming tea and sit shakily down. The fruit bat hops into my lap. I think inanely that biker Lance Armstrong has nothing on me this morning. Who needs performance enhancing drugs when all one needs to do is own a Chihuahua pup and lock oneself out of the house now and then?


Brian Miller said...

really i am laughing with you, right. smiles...oh my...that fruit bat is keeping you a bit busy eh...smiles.

Teri said...

What a great story! I know the feeling having locked myself out of the house occasionally and having to "break" in to my own place. That dog...what a character. Maybe that dog crate sounds like a good idea for more than just sleeping at night!

Anonymous said...

Thank you starting my day with a good laugh! That image of you on your bike in your nightgown and the fruit bat peeing and pooping in joy at the sight of you will keep me laughing all day!

Out on the prairie said...

This is good, I laughed at the name for the dog in the first place.

steven said...

i shouldn't be laughing pauline but really? really?!! i hope the fruit bat's owners give you something really really nice as a thankyou. steven

Star said...

How hilarious! though not at the time, I'm sure. I hate that feeling when you just realise you're in trouble and it's up to you to find the solution.... oh my!

Tabor said...

These little adventures just make you stronger in have a LOT of character.

Pauline said...

Brian M - I can laugh now, too but at 5 a.m. I failed to see the humor!

Teri - if that crate was any bigger the fruit bat would be a permanent inhabitant ;)

Barbara - that image may haunt me forever!

OOTP - she does though, doesn't she? And fruit bat she will always be to me :)

Really Steven. Every word is true. I swore my niece to secrecy but I just know the truth will come out and I will feel the fool all over again when my brother comes home.

Star - no, at the time I was just dumbstruck at how dumb I could be!

Tabor - one is supposed to learn from one's mistakes but as goes humankind so go I!

Meggie said...

I surely had a much needed laugh at this story. I am sorry it was at your expense! I do hope the fruit bat survives to adulthood!

Judith said...

Oh, I am so sorry for your misadventures, Pauline --- but I can't help thinking the YouTube would go viral instantly!!!!!!
Fruit bat! Wonderful!

Pauline said...

Meggie - I've been threatening to make Chihuahua tacos. We had a fairly peaceful day after the morning adventure. She still doesn't know "Down!" or "Come" or "Stop!" but she is learning "NO!"

J - I imagine it would but alas, no pictures ;)

Barbara said...

What a story! I'm glad it had a happy ending. A dog like this would turn me into a cat lover I think. Actually we have one next door right now. She's about 2 and she snarls and barks incessantly whenever we or Jake go out the door. I've been thinking about tainted meat! It could be a long 10 years as we wait for this biting herder to calm down.

You are probably counting down the hours until you can escape the fruit bat!

JAK said...

Love the story! Jennifer K

Brian Hayes said...

I think you could launch a new Reality TV series, but your assertions aside, I'm not sure if you've written a true story. Of course you're making it up. Please, tell us you're pulling our leg. The camera crew is flying in early Monday. This is your last chance to confess.

herhimnbryn said...

Oh my ! Laughing ( sorry!).
1. A happy dog is a tired dog, a quiet dog is a tired dog. In my humble oppinion!
2. Your niece could have lent you a coat, or driven you home:)In my humble oppinion!

Hope you have recovered. I bet opening that front door on your return was such a relief?

Joanna Jenkins said...

Oh! My! Gawd! That is absolutely hysterical. You're my new hero. I can just picture you riding that bike and love that you made it back in one piece.
You rock! xo jj

Pauline said...

barbara - she's a cute little thing but needs training! Can't wait to get back to my quiet cat!

Thanks Jennifer!

Brian - the moment this aging flesh was seen riding a bicycle at dawn, the show would be canceled! It's the truth - who could make up something like this?

HHB - I TRIED to tire the little cuss out but alas, I fell asleep long before she did!

JJ - I am SO glad there are no photos of me riding that bike!

Hilary said...

This is hilarious.. probably not at the time but thank you for sharing it. :) That fruit bat needs the Dog Whisperer.. or something. He makes Benny seem like he's tranquilized.

Ravenstar said...

Thanks for the laugh on this lovely solstice morning! I'm a teacher, also and am relishing the summer days to come.

Reya Mellicker said...

Pauline this is hilarious, every bit of it.

The fruit bat is rather cute, but really why oh why do we breed dogs to be so small. What are we thinking??

Leave the doors unlocked, please? Ha.

slommler said...

OMG!! This was so funny!!
I had my dog lock me out of the house one time!! That is another story but I was so made that I found a sledge hammer and splintered the door until I exposed the lock and took it apart!! Got in though! Ha!
Dog didn't get treats that day either!
Congrats on your POTW

texwisgirl said...

oh this was hilarious!!! or maybe hilary-ous... Congrats on your POTW!!!

missing moments said...

Outstanding story! I'm glad to have discovered you from POTW! Congrats!
Hope you are all quietly home now!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Hahahahahahaha! What fun to read - so sorry it was at your expense. Hope you got a nap after all your exercise.

Congrats on your POTW. Well deserved. Story well told.

lailani said...

lol!! {{Snort snort snort}} What a great story (now that you are home and not locked out with a yipping fruit bat demanding your attention). Thank you for the wonderful read!


Pauline said...

Hilary - I did have to laugh at myself, especially once I got safely in.

Raven - enjoy your summer!

Reya, she is a cute little thing but she needs some self-discipline!

Slommier - I was looking for a tool to jimmy that lock but the bike looked like a better choice. All that got injured was my dignity ;)

Tex - thanks! Hilary 's POTW are something to be proud of.

Missing - thanks! Hope you come back.

Midlife - it's funnier now that it's all over ;)

lailani - thanks for stopping by to read and comment :)

Anonymous said...

You poor thing. Perhaps you should have an extra key made and sleep with it around your neck?

Congratulations on this FUNNY story and for winning the POTW over at The Smitten Image!


Moannie said...

You have left a great picture in my head. Congrats on POTW

Pauline said...

Snappy - I plan to make my own spare key and hide it!

Moannie - thanks. The more I tell this story, the sillier I feel!

Kerry said...

Well this already had hellish overtones at two weeks ago, but then it just builds until it becomes like an anxiety-nightmare!

When's the next time you dog-sit for them?

Pauline said...

Kerry - if I stop and think about it, maybe never!

Marion said...

Oh, this post is awesome. I laughed myself silly...I can see this happening to me. You have the best way with words, Pauline, I love reading your posts. I love how you called the dog a fruit bat...the description is perfect!

Love this..."I say every curse word I know." Heh, heh! xx

Pauline said...

Marion - always appreciate a visit from you! I need to beef up my supply of curse words ;)

Cyn said...

ok so I am gasping for breath here, was eating and reading, think I am choking on a piece of lettuce and the tears are rolling down my face from laughter. Oh Pauline, you are SO good for me, a breath of fresh, albeit nutty, air. I knew there was a reason we renewed our friendship a few years ago. I love having you in my life again!! ;)