"So which one do you think I like best?"
Corb kept his gaze on the box in front of him. "I don't know..."
"Oh, come on," I frowned, and pulled the car out of the parking lot. "After all the years that you've known me, you can't figure out what my favorite chocolate is in the Whitman's Sampler?"
Corb thought about it for a moment. "Well, it's gotta be something...dark. Um, toffee chip?"
I shook my head. "Nope."
"Almond nougat? Chocolate truffle? Vermont fudge?"
"Nope, nope, and nope. Really, I would think this would be easy! It's the most obvious choice in the world. I love the little chocolate messenger guy, right in the middle of the box. I've always found him fascinating."
Corb made a face. "What a boring choice."
But there you are. I'm in love with the chocolate messenger guy. Whenever I get a box, I save him for last. It's my present for slogging through the rest of the bunch. And my man never lets me down, either.
Tuesday night, when I arrived home from my five-hour drive from New Jersey, I was awfully tired, but Corb convinced me that what I really wanted to do, more than anything in the world, was to go out and do a little Christmas shopping. (P.S.: I'll be taking another three-hour drive tomorrow, into Manhattan, for a Christmas party).
After dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant and a few hours walking around the mall, we returned home. Since I was doing so much traveling, and Corb and I only have one car nowadays, I had taken a company van home for the week. It's a really comfortable one, too. I like traveling around in it. Plush seats!
Anyway, when we arrived home, something dawned on me: we had taken the van, not my car. Had Corb remembered to take the keys out from the apartment before we left? In case I haven't mentioned it before, I get nervous about these things. For most of the week, every time we had taken the van, I had quizzed Corb before we left the building...usually right before shutting the door to the apartment...but this time...
"Corb," I asked, my voice quivering, just a bit. "Did you..?"
Corb rummaged through his jeans. "Oh shit," he said, and I groaned.
Well, as Douglas Adams liked to say, "don't panic." We managed to have some neighbors open up the front door for us, and we bolted up the stairs, on the off chance that we had been totally negligent, and left the door to the apartment unlocked. Of course, we hadn't, which led us to the next most logical option.
"Do you think the cats could unlock the door?" I asked.
No such luck. So, resigned, we tried playing our next card. Our apartment has a balcony, and there's a fire escape leading down from it. There as the possibility that we had left the sliding doors unlocked. We moved to the back up the building and stared up at the third floor. I moved forward, to start climbing.
"No," said Corb. "I don't want you to climb up there."
"I don't want you to climb up there."
"But you once broke your ribs. You could fall."
"I'll be fine, really."
"But you could fall!"
"So could you," I replied. "Just let me get this over with, okay?"
Corb stepped aside. Huffing, I made my way from the steps to the fire escape, and pushed myself up. It was only when I was halfway up that I remembered how rickety the stairs were, and that I had actually bent back the thin fence surrounding the balcony in my old apartment, under a similar set of circumstances. However, that had been on a second floor. There would be a harder fall if I lost it this time, especially in winter.
I made it up, however, and I stood there, looking into my apartment, staring into it as though it were a fishbowl. I said a quick prayer and then, grabbed the door handle.
"It's locked," I said.
"What should we do now?" Corb asked.
"Call the super," I replied, rubbing my arms with my hands. It was starting to get cold.
Corb did. "They say they'll be here in ten minutes," he said, calling up. "But they want to meet me at the front of the building." The he giggled. "I feel like we're in Romeo and Juliet."
"You go around," I replied. "They'll be here pretty soon. What else could go wrong?"
It was at that point, dear friends, that the food from our favorite Mexican restaurant started to kick in.
Longest. Ten minutes. Ever!