My vortex of bizarre happenings continues, 14 months after my arrival in Big D. It’s the strangest thing, really. But lovely blog fodder.

We had a beautiful day recently, tucked in somehow among all of the tornados. It was sunny and warm, and I sat outside reading for a bit. No phone, no watch, just relaxation time. D came out to say bye, because she was heading off to her mother’s house. I had a massage a appointment a couple of hours later, to work on my creaky back and neck from the wreck in March.

D left, and I enjoyed the sunshine for a while longer before heading in to change. Well, that was my plan. But the back door into the house seemed to be stuck. After several tries, it becomes obvious that it’s not stuck… It’s locked.

It’s so easy to do; we’re both in the habit of locking the door behind us when we go inside. We just don’t usually do it when the other one’s in the back yard. And in all our years in Nashville, it never happened. I’m just sayin’.

No worries, I’ll just call D back. Except remember that relaxation thing? No phone. Right.

Our fence gate is always locked on the outside, because of our pool. But once in a while… we leave it off when we’re working in the yard. Maybe this was one of those rare times?

Nope. The gate doesn’t budge.

So I try the windows. All eight of them.


It’s possible at this point that I said an unladylike word or two. They looked something like this: %$^&*@#$%.

I try yelling to my neighbors. “Hello? HELLO? HELLLLLOOOO?” Obviously, they are all video game enthusiasts or agoraphobics, because none appear to be outside enjoying this beautiful day. They’re probably still jumpy from all of the tornadoes. I get that.

So it’s obvious. My only way out is over the fence.

This wouldn’t be a problem, if it were a tiny picket fence, or a chain-link one made of all of the neat little squarish toeholds. It isn’t. It’s one of the Dallas signature wooden fences, 8 feet tall. Yes, 8 feet, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs. Everything’s bigger in Texas, and they spit upon those 6-foot fences popular in the other 49 states.

OK. I’ve got lawn chairs. I’ll just stack one up here against the fence and hop over… uh-oh.

It appears that the seat of a typical lawn chair is just about 15 inches high, give or take a piece of mulch. I, of course, am not 6 feet, 9 inches tall. This isn’t going to work.

I take the chair over to the corner of the yard by the pool pump, where we have a plastic deck box. The lawn chair doesn’t quite fit on top of it; the legs are a smidge wider than the deck box. Who needs four legs? Three are perfectly sufficient.

I put the lawn chair on top of the deck box, then clamber up onto it. It rocks a bit — OK, more than a bit — but I think it’ll hold. I reach up toward the top of the fence, ready to pull myself right up. My fingers caress the top of the fence, but that’s it.

Are you kidding me? A 15-inch lawn chair on top of a 2-foot-high deck box, and I still can’t reach the top with more than my fingers?

OK, I can do the math. Maybe, just maybe, when I was 18 and playing softball every day, I could’ve pulled myself up in a killer reverse chin-up. But that SO isn’t happening anymore.

I climb down. I have no watch, but my massage appointment is coming up soon, I’m quite sure. So I’m pretty motivated. I grab a blue floaty noodle, then an orange one for good measure. I climb back up and stack them on top the lawn chair, on top of the deck box. Those extra four inches are nice, but still inadequate.

Back down again, this time to grab a blue inflatable lounge chair. You know, one of the cheap plastic ones that sticks to the back of your thighs for the entire five minutes that it remains inflated after you give yourself a hernia blowing it up.

Back up again, where I add it to the tottering pile, on top of the blue and orange pool noodles, on top of the lawn chair, on top of the deck box, in the house that Jack built.

(I really don’t know who built this house. It just felt right.)

This time, it’s going to work. I climb up, surviving one perilous moment where the entire stack threatens to drop right to the ground like a Tennessee fainting goat. At the pinnacle I discover that if I bounce once or twice or thrice, I should be able to vault myself up onto the top of the fence, thereby rescuing myself with grace, style and ingenuity.

The hazards of this are clearly revealed upon my first attempted catapult. In addition to the threat of my bouncing right off of the Tower of Death and onto the concrete pavers below me, the fence is wood. I am wearing just a swimsuit.

I’ve got one four-letter word for you: Splinters.

Yeowwwch. Before my second successful attempt, I throw my towel over the fence. Wish I’d thought of that a few minutes earlier.

But I am, at last, atop the fence. Splintered, maybe, but atop. This is when I notice that the back side of our yard, on the other side of the fence, drops off sharply to the alleyway behind our house, with just a thin strip of grass, maybe four blades wide. The concrete alleyway is now probably 10 feet below me. Crap. I had planned to dangle down the fence by my fully extended arms, dropping 18 inches or so to a gentle landing.

While pondering this new wrinkle, I wonder idly if any of my agoraphobic neighbors are looking out of their windows, wondering why there’s a chubby little middle-aged, red-faced, besplintered woman in a swimsuit straddling our fence.

My Tower of Death has collapsed when I pushed off of it, so there’s nothing left to do but drop, at this point. That 3.5-foot drop felt like 35 feet, especially when I crumpled right past the four blades of grass and rolled into the alleyway.

This would be the moment, of course, when one of my non-existent neighbors would choose to drive around the corner of the alleyway. Her mouth made a perfect little “O” as she took in the chubby little middle-aged, red-faced, besplintered woman in a swimsuit. I smiled gamely as I hobbled up and darted toward our garage, which thankfully has a keypad to open it.

When I finally get into the house, it’s just 15 minutes ’til my appointment. I throw on a T-shirt and shorts and somehow make it, but the drive wasn’t exactly restful.

I’m hiding a key in the back yard this weekend. Just so you know.

Then just a couple of nights later, I was working late with a colleague (hi, Jim!) when a storm hit — imagine that — and the lights went out at work. We decide to leave, since we have no lights or computers.

What we DON’T realize is that our parking garage arms and gates are electric, too. I’m trapped. Again. Despite our best efforts to push and pull and overwhelm and rewire the gates, they don’t budge until the lights come on a while later.

At least Jim and I didn’t freak out like someone else who drove down from above. She began screaming at us to call the Fire Department to rescue us, then squealed off in her car toward the top of the garage. Wonder where she was going? I thought she might pull a Thelma and Louise and drive off the top, but I didn’t see any wreckage.

At least that would’ve made a great YouTube video.

So I’ve decided that as long as this trapped thing goes on, I’m keeping my cell phone with me. Feel free to call!

About wordsmith1313

Now: Somewhat retired, although I don't do it very well. Formerly senior director of Communications and Marketing for the Dallas Zoo. Journalist. EMT. Writer. Breast cancer survivor. I love to travel, and will always return from a trip with a new friend or two. Those fortuitous meetings bring velvet to the rough edges of life.
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3 Responses to Stuck

  1. TNcoonass says:

    Push-button deadbolt, cher. Home Depot sells them.

  2. Stephanie says:

    You rock. I’m just sayin.

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