Friday, June 16, 2017


If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you are well aware of my knack for getting myself involved in situations that inevitably will make me want to go hide out in the woods somewhere until I can show my face in public again without feeling embarrassed.

Well, I’m ashamed to admit that last week I think I managed to create the Queen Mother of all embarrassing moments – which is why I currently am writing this from my tent in the middle of the forest (just kidding – I couldn’t handle the mosquitoes).

Anyway, speaking of annoying insects, that is how my morning of embarrassment began. I had taken the dogs out for their usual walk, and when I returned home, I noticed a parade of ants marching across the laundry-room floor. I followed their trail to the point of origin and discovered that the pests were coming up from the basement through a gap around the laundry sink’s drainpipe.

Usually, I give the interior perimeter of the basement a few squirts of ant killer every spring, but this year, the weather was so cold, I forgot it was spring and thus, forgot to spray. So I decided to do it right then, before the ants that already had made it into the house had the chance to signal down to the rest of their buddies and invite them upstairs for a party.

“I should change my clothes first,” I said to myself. I was wearing my “walking” clothes – my good jeans, good walking shoes and a navy-blue hoodie – none of which I wanted to get bug killer on. But laziness overtook me and I decided to venture down into the basement without changing into my usual protective basement-attire – paint-covered sweat pants, my late husband’s size XXX flannel shirt that comes down to my knees, and a baseball cap to protect my head from anything that might decide to make a nest in my hair. But I did opt to at least put on a face mask, to lessen my chances of being overcome by bug-killer fumes.

First, however, I walked outside to the bulkhead. Last year, I had a screen door installed over the bulkhead door so I could air out the basement when it was damp…or if I needed to spray anything down there. That way, I wouldn’t have to worry about vermin getting into the basement while I was airing it out.

I unlocked the screen door, opened it from the outside, opened the inner door, then closed the screen door again and locked it with my key. That way, fresh air already would on its way down there when I started spraying. I shoved the key into my pocket and went back into the house before heading down to the basement.

You may be wondering why I didn’t just go downstairs through the bulkhead, seeing I already was out there, opening the door.

In a word…spiders.

In the stairway of that dark, narrow, creepy bulkhead live more hideous species of spiders than I ever even knew existed. In fact, some of the species have yet to even be identified by science. Considering that I suffer from a severe case of arachnophobia, I wouldn’t set one toe on those bulkhead stairs even if I were wearing a suit of armor...or there was a sack of $100 bills waiting for me at the top of them.

So, armed with my jug of bug killer and my face-mask, I ventured down into the basement through the door in the laundry room. Getting down there, however, wasn’t an easy task because I had to outrun my two dogs and slam the door before they were able to reach it. For some reason, they both LOVE to go down to the basement. Eden likes it because there are boxes of old toys down there from which she quickly can grab something and rip it to shreds. And Wynter likes go down there because she enjoys…well, peeing on the concrete.

As I was down there, spraying the corners with bug killer, I could hear Wynter jumping up on the basement door and whining loudly. She obviously wasn’t at all pleased I had given her the slip and left her upstairs.

As soon as I was finished with the odious task of spraying, I ran up the stairs so I could get away from the toxic bug-killer fumes. I also was eager to remove the face mask, which was beginning to make even my teeth sweat. I grabbed the door handle and pushed on the door.

It didn’t open.

I tried again, and then again. Still, it didn’t open. I thought Wynter might be lying up against it, but I could hear her wrestling with Eden out in the kitchen.

I felt my heart begin to race as reality struck me – Wynter’s jumping on the door must have locked it!  The lock, only on the outside of the door, was this weird hinged type that flipped over onto a little ball to lock it. Somehow, Wynter had managed to flip it! There was no way to unlock it from the inside – which was the main reason why I’d installed that particular lock in the first place – to
prevent any fanged basement monsters from ever gaining access to the house.

I’d like to say I calmly weighed my options, but unfortunately, I would be lying. There was nothing calm about my reaction. I practically screeched, “Oh, my God!  My only way out of here now is to climb out through the bulkhead! I can’t do it! I can't! I’m going to die down here!”

It took me at least 20 minutes to gather the courage to even approach the steps leading up through the bulkhead. I put up the hood on my hoodie to protect my hair from becoming a spiders’ nest, and bolted up the super-steep steps. The inner metal door at the top was the one I’d just opened from outside, thank goodness, so all I had to do was open the screen door and dash out into the yard…and freedom!

I grabbed the handle on the screen door, but it wouldn’t move. I tugged it, I shoved it, I hit it with my fist – still, it remained frozen. I couldn’t open the door no matter what I did. Not wanting to spend one more second standing in the creepy bulkhead, I rushed back down into the basement, all the while, envisioning a bunch of hairy spiders clinging to the back of my shirt.

 That’s when panic really set in. I was trapped! The two locked doors were my only way out. The small basement windows not only were up too high for me to reach, a quick measurement of them with my eyes told me my butt was doomed to get stuck in one of them even if I could climb up high enough to attempt to squeeze through one.

I then thought about going back up to the screen door and shouting through it for help. But considering the fact I live in the middle of nowhere with no neighbors close by, I couldn’t imagine who would come to my rescue – Grizzly Adams? And even if someone did come, how could he save me? I would have to tell him where my spare house-key was hidden outside, and then he’d have to unlock the front door, go in through the house…and end up having his pants ripped off by my dogs.

I thought that if worse came to worse, I would  just cut a hole in the screen door and climb out through that. But I’d forgotten there were no tools in the basement, just toys. The tools were out in the garage. I found myself frantically wondering if the Luke Skywalker action figure in one of the basement boxes had a lightsaber that actually could cut a hole in something.

At that point, I remembered I still had the screen-door key in my pocket. I could see sunlight coming in from a gap underneath the door, so I figured if I could squeeze the key out through that little gap, whoever was on the other side of the door could then unlock it from outside and let me out, without having to go into the house or end up with shredded pants.

 I decided I had no other choice at that point. I was going to have to go back up to the screen door and shout through it for help. Then if someone showed up, I’d try to get the key out to him (or her).

I checked my pocket to make sure the key still was in there, and that’s when I discovered my cell phone!  I’d completely forgotten I’d taken it with me when I walked the dogs. If I had changed my clothes, I wouldn’t have had either the key or the phone on me, so I was grateful that my laziness had worked in my favor for once.

My first instinct was to dial 911, but then I decided a bad case of arachnophobia probably didn’t qualify as an emergency - not unless a gang of black widows viciously attacked me. I finally decided to call my friends Paul and Nancy, who live 10 minutes away. I breathed a sigh of relief when Paul answered.

“Paul! The dogs locked me in the basement!” I cried to him in a rush of words. “I thought I could get out through the bulkhead, but I can’t open the screen door!  I have tried and tried, but it won’t budge! Please, get me out of here!  If the spiders don’t get me, the bug killer I just sprayed down here will!’

“Well, on the plus side,” he said calmly,“the bug killer probably will kill the spiders.” He chuckled before adding, “Hang in there – I’ll be right over. You caught me just as I was about to get into the shower.”

Waiting for him was the longest 15 minutes of my life. It would have taken only 10 minutes...if he hadn’t been naked when I called. 

He arrived on the outside of the screen door and called my name through it. I ran up the bulkhead steps and stood there on the inside.

“I’ll shove my key under the door so you can unlock the screen door and get me out of here!’ I said to him as I bent to try to squeeze the key through.

“Um, Sally,” Paul said, once again very calmly, as he peered at me through the screen.  “See that little button on the side of the door handle? That’s a lock. Flip it up and it will unlock the screen door from your side.”

I hadn’t even noticed the button until he mentioned it. Sure enough, I flipped it and like magic, the screen door suddenly was easy to open. I, however, didn’t immediately rush outside as I had planned to do. I was too embarrassed to face Paul. Even the spiders suddenly began to look more appealing to me.

The look Paul gave me when I finally did emerge from my dungeon told me he probably was thinking I could win the “Dumbest Woman of the Week” award, hands down.

I’m still apologizing to him.

Even worse, after all of that trouble, the bug killer I used had no effect whatsoever on the ants. It could be because it expired sometime back during the Nixon administration.

 I’m beginning to think that maybe living in a tent out in the forest isn’t such a bad idea after all.

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