I stared down morosely at the doorknob that opened up into my apartment. Well, here's a fine kettle of fish. Here I was, all ready to pack up the kids and drive them to Corb's hotel, where he was doing time as Manager on Duty for the entire week-end, and THIS had to go and happen.
I banged on the door to the apartment, for Theo to answer. I knew that Ashes would be locked away in her bedroom, on the computer, as she always was.
The minute that Theo opened the door, I pointed to the doorknob. "Oh," he said, looking more than a little unsure of what to do.
See, I have this thing. It's a dumb thing, I know, and certainly something that Corb gets annoyed about. But you see, I have a problem figuring out which keys are which when it comes to opening up our apartment. I have three keys: one for the outside entrance to the building, and then two for our door (the general purpose lock and the deadbolt).
There's the problem. I always get the general purpose door lock mixed up with the deadbolt lock, because they look exactly the same. And, try as I might, I just can't remember the order of which is which. I had it down at one point, but then the keys were messed up on my keychain, and that all went to hell, and I never got my groove back again.
And here I was, having placed the deadbolt key into the general purpose keyhole. Only this time, instead of realizing my mistake right away, I had done gone and pushed it square into the keyhole, and now...
I grabbed at the key, trying to wrench it out of the keyhole with all the strength I could muster. "Grrrr, won't budge," I said.
"Let me try," volunteered Theo. As if my 79.6 pound stringbean of a son was going to have more success.
After five minutes of frantic straining (which is a line that I swear I'll someday use in a ridiculous blog about a bowel movement and five pounds of cheese), Theo came to the same conclusion that I had arrived at: the key would not budge. So now what the hell were we going to do?
My first ingenious idea (and I swear I'm not making this up): locate a wire hanger from the closet and wrap it around the key. And then I pulled, really hard. And, after that hurt my hands, I wrapped a paper towel around the wire.
So there I was, in the hall, the wire hanger stretched out, practically touching my neighbor's door. Strain, strain, strain.
Well, what did you expect out of me? My momma made me pretty, not mechanically inclined. Keep in my mind, my father doesn't know a Phillips head from a...well, whatever the hell other kind of screwdriver isn't a Phillips head. I remember when I was a kid, our house once had a pipe leak. Dad's solution was to take scotch tape and wrap it around the pipe. It didn't work very well, and prompted this comment from the plumber: "Your husband quite the handy man, isn't he, Mrs. Alexian?" Father was not amused.
My next ingenious idea, even worse than the first: make the keyhole slippery! After quickly looking around to see if we had WD-40, which we didn't, out of desperation, I chose the next best thing.
"Dad, why are you spraying vegetable oil on the doorknob?" Theo asked me, as he watched me work in fascination.
You know how kids always blaim their parents for screwing them up during childhood? This, I swear was going to be just one of those moments.
Okay, so cooking spray and wire hangers didn't work. And now, the door handle was so slippery that I couldn't try to yank the key out if I tried! What else did I have in my pathetic toolbox that might do the trick?
Frantically, I ran over to the toolbox and starting yanking out objects, blindly. A tape measure! Now what was I going to do, measure the key out? Rub rub juice! Hmmm, how the hell did that get in there? A hammer! No, I wasn't that desperate...hmmm, a screwdriver...
Well, that might do it. Maybe if I undid the doorknob...
For the next ten minutes, Theo and I worked to remove the screws that held the doorknob in place. And finally, there it was, the doorknob facing the hallway, dangling down from the door like the ears of a droopy-eyed bassett hound. I lifted the knob up, twisted the key...
And it fell out. Just like that.
Success! Dammit, I felt so proud of myself, I could have beaten my manly chest right then and there and let out a Tarzan yell.
Then I looked at the doorknob. How the hell was I going to put that together?
After ten more minutes, Theo and I came to a conclusion: we weren't. And we had to get to Corb's hotel, and start our week-end! It was seven o'clock already, and the hotel was over a mile away.
"Let's just leave it for Corb to fix when he gets back home," I said.
"But is it going to be safe?" Theo asked.
"Hmm, let's see," I said, and stepped out of the apartment, closing the door.
Uh oh. Hmm, this was interesting. How was I going to get back in? I tried lifting up the knob and placing it back into the door hole (because of course, experts that we were, we were unable to completely remove the doorknob from the door). I turned the knob...locked.
"Theo!" I called out. "Do me a favor, would you? I'm going to run downstairs. Can you throw the keys over the patio to me, so I can try to get in?"
I ran downstairs, and after a few minutes, Theo located the keys and threw them down. I ran back upstairs, and moved to the door. I stared at the keys on the chain. How about if I placed the wrong key in again?
Carefully, I chose a key and placed it into the keyhole. Slowly, I pushed it forward.
It slid through. Success! I breathed a sigh of relief, turned the knob, and opened the door. Theo stood in the living room, smiling.
"You did it, Dad!" he said.
I moved over to hug him, closing the door behind me.
"Uh oh..." we said, in unison. We moved apart, and ran to the door.
"Let me try it!" I said, trying to turn the living room side of the doorknob, which was really little more than a cylinder.
"No, let me!" said Theo, moving my hand away, and trying to make the cylinder move. We stood there, grasping at the door as if we were two contestants in a greased pig contest.
"Let me try." We stopped, and turned around. Ashes stood behind us, having watched the entire scene, amused. And then, she walked over to the door, grabbed the cylinder, moved it to the left, and opened the door.
We look at her, amazed. "Bet you can't do that again," said Theo, and closed the door. But she did.
A few minutes later, as we started to pack clothes for our week-end at the hotel, I called up Corb to let him know that we were on our way.
"Corbett?" I said, the minute he picked up the phone. "You know how I always say the living with you is like an episode of Life with Lucy? Have I got a story for you..."
PS: And yes, that really is my doorknob. Corb put it back together when we arrived home on Sunday.