Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Remains of the Day.

So it's been awhile between posts, but let's not dwell on that now. I have been waiting to feel compelled to sit down, apply my fingertips to keys, and share something suitably miscellaneous. Alas, nothing suitably miscellaneous has compelled me to blog. Until yesterday.

Since the last time I wrote you, we have a dog. She's a French bulldog (not a French pug or a British bulldog, the mistaken identity applied by dog-loving strangers on the street). The fact that she's a "she", is not as obvious as it sounds either, given most people see a little black dog and jump to the conclusion; "he". "What's his name?", "How old is he?"..."SHE is five months old. HER name is Millie". We correct them, polite but emphatic.

Yesterday, Ms Millie, aka The Milliken, was simply not keen to go outside. Her Dad had gone to work and I was racing around, frantically putting things in their place, creating order out of our weekly chaos. At about five minutes past my time to leave, I took her into the garage where she has an open door to the run of the yard, a warm bed and enough toys for five pups. I told her to "stay". She looked at me, raised an eyebrow and bolted straight back into the lounge. We played chasey for a few laps around the coffee table and then I picked her up and put her out on the deck. "No Millie, stay". I put my hand up like a stop sign. She observed it briefly, her head leaning slightly to the right in consideration, and then ran directly past me into the laundry.

By this time, I was starting to sweat it. I was going to be late. So I picked her up with one hand and grabbed the back door handle with the other. I tested the handle right to left and pulled it shut behind me. I sat down with her on her towel, coaxing her to sit and telling her I would not be long, explaining rationally that it was Saturday. I figured I would disappear like an illusionist once I had talked her around. She settled a bit, so I leaped up to make my escape, reaching the door only a few seconds ahead of her to find that it was now, in fact, locked.

I was trapped in my own backyard.

Granted, with the company of a very cute dog. But with no phone, no keys, no change and only barely enough cloth coverage for the day's sub-mild weather. I tried the door again. And again. The nib must have slipped. I checked the flyscreen on the small laundry window thinking I could remove it, slide the window open and unlock the door. With my face firm against the window pane I saw the short stick we had cut to stop exactly this happening at the hands of wanton criminals. Inconvenient genius.

From our yard, you can get out to the street via the garage roller door. The trade off is, that to return to the backyard, I would need to leave the garage door open for potential vagrant visitors while I checked if the front door had been randomly left unlocked. Placing improbable bets on the slim chance that it had, I raced down the street and around to the front yard with dog in tow, leaving the garage gaping large to the street. No such luck. The front door and window were shut tight and secure.

We returned to the backyard defeated, observing on our retreat that the neighbours (our planned next stop in the hope of a free phone call) appeared to have chosen this week to take a break. Their cars were distinctly absent and the mail was piling up in their letterbox. One hour on, I had committed a cardinal sin in the book of Peta by being a no-show for my first Saturday appointment and began pondering how lame my excuse would sound when I eventually got my hands on a phone.

Then it dawned on me, that my Mum was coming over. And she had a key! It was about half nine by now. I had no idea what time she was due, but decided it was worth a last ditch effort to the phone booth and the risk of more vagrant visitors in my garage to find out. I hit the roller door button and put the leash back on Millie. We were released again onto the street, and made a mad dash, across the railway line to the beacon of hope. The phone booth. Well, it's not really a booth these days, but it is a phone. Unfortunately, Telstra's voice recognition robot was not familiar with the concept of calling collect.

I swallowed my pride and went into the green grocer, explaining to a dubious looking girl that I lived around the corner and had locked myself out, trying not to look or sound as frazzled and desperate as I was beginning to feel. She uncertainly handed me two 50-cent pieces, partly in pity and partly to expel me from the store where customers were attempting to spend a peaceful morning selecting vegetables.

I promptly returned to the Telstra phone to find that vandals had stolen my salvation by sodomising the coin insertion slot. I returned the coins at the grocer where the girl explained that her phone was out of credit, shrugged us an apology and went back to stacking apples. Millie was pushing half a plum around with her snout. As I sighed and turned to head home, I heard a kind voice; "Would you like to use my phone?" A lady with thick red glasses was squinting at me, holding out an iphone in one hand and clinging to a bag of organic carrots with the other. I thanked her profusely.

After a reassuring call and a grateful double handshake with our saviour, we ran like the rabbits in Watership Down back to our garage burrow and waited for the Corolla to pull into the driveway. As Mum's key turned in our door, Millie looked up at me and swaggered back to her spot in front of the heater, victorious. The panic of losing a Saturday to sitting still and silent in my backyard subsided. The rest of the day remained, to be unfolded.