Thursday, June 12, 2008

Just Passing Through

Yesterday evening, I was reading a manuscript and Spiceboy was on the computer when there was a soft knock at our door. In the hallway stood a blonde man in khaki pants and a crisp button down shirt, looking very “just home from the office.”

He was soft spoken, so I didn’t quite catch his name. Jim? John?

He claimed to be our neighbor. We never get visits from our neighbors, so I was curious to see what his request would be. Did he want to borrow a cup of sugar to bake cookies, or perhaps a screwdriver to assemble furniture?


Turns out, he wanted to borrow our window.

Jim/John had locked himself out of his apartment on the 2nd floor. He was hoping we’d be kind enough to let him climb out of our window so he could descend the fire escape back to his happy home, which he would enter through an open window.

Spiceboy folded his arms and blocked the doorway and eyed Jim/John skeptically. He grilled Jim/John about his residency in the building while Jim/John stood there, looking stressed out. I jumped in before Spiceboy could ask for proper ID and perform a criminal background check.

“You say you want to climb down our fire escape?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Jim/John.

“Come on in!” I said. Spiceboy, ever the surly gatekeeper, threw me a dirty look.

Okay, so this guy could have been a total wacko. He could have been a stalker bent on tormenting an ex girlfriend, or a thief, or a murderer. But he didn’t look like he was intent on doing us any bodily harm, and I’ve been on bed rest since the end of April and I don’t get a lot of excitement these days and I really wanted to see this neatly dressed blonde man climb out of our window and maneuver his way down the sooty fire escape—even if it meant he was on his way to strangle someone.

It’s the little things that please me.

As Spiceboy set about opening our window and clearing the way for our visitor to make his exit, I had time to look Jim/John over and wonder if his apartment was as neat and tidy as his appearance. One of those apartments in which everything is in its place and there’s no “junk drawer” or “clutter closet”, the walls painted a calming shade of beige and some carefully chosen innocuous artwork on the wall, with magazines lined up neatly with the edge of the coffee table and books in alphabetical order on the bookshelves. One of those apartments that looks great on the outside, but if you looked more closely, you’d find a human head in the freezer.

I also had time to ponder what it would be like to live that kind of crisp khaki life, a J-Crew catalog kind of life, rather than the organized chaos that we call home. And because I'm vain, I wondered what this neatly dressed man thought of us—Spiceboy in an old t-shirt and shorts and me with my pregnant belly and unkempt hair, our unwashed dinner dishes stacked on the counter, unmade bed, unruly piles of books on the shelves, and Betty’s wee wee pads in the corner.

And then Jim was hoisting himself up and out of our window.

“Good luck!” I said.

Jim/John paused, half in, half out of the window. “Thanks,” he said.

Then with a quick duck of his head he passed out of our lives—on his way to whatever it is he had to do: cook dinner, or iron a new pair of khakis, or possibly to murder someone and steal their plasma TV.