The instant that back door slammed behind me, I knew … I knew right then and there, that I, literally, was out in the cold and clad only in my flannel nightgown. And that dog, his dog, his big, black, hairy, slobbery, slow-witted retriever with a wet tongue dripping along the floors and a rod of a tail wiping the coffee table clear of magazines, plants, or whatever and slapping at my wine rack filled with carefully chosen whites and reds was warm inside.
It happened so fast. I couldn’t believe it! I was taking meat bones to the garbage outside so that gangly, lumbering dog wouldn’t get into the kitchen trash. And this mangy mutt, he follows me, jumps up, and slams the back door behind me! Me! The one who feeds, walks, and bathes him!
I banged on the back door as I shouted at him. “I’m outside and my feet are cold! It’s 48 degrees. Do you even care?!”
With his front paws up on the back door and his tongue wagging, he stood panting, his dog breath fogging up the window. We were eye to eye and hand to paw. I was not smiling. He looked like he was.
That dog, not yet 2 years old, could do more damage in a few minutes than a midsummer tornado. Leaning my back against the door, I realized two things about this problem 1) it had to be dealt with fairly soon and 2) being a sane and logical woman, I could not cry about it.
Had to think! Seconds ticked by, maybe minutes.
If I go to my elderly neighbors on the left, they’ll call the police to assist. That would be so embarrassing. Can’t go to my neighbors on the right, they both work, or to the people behind us, too far. And I certainly will not cross the street in my nightgown!
That left me with only one option. Try all the windows.
The bathroom window would be first. If hubby followed his regular morning routine — opening it wide while he showered, leaving it cracked open while he shaved — it might still be open or unlocked. Even though I found all that to be quite silly, since we have an adequate fan and it’s a danger to leave it unlocked, this time, I counted on his leaving it open.
One problem was that the bathroom window was at the side of the house where the elderly neighbors might view my attempt to climb through it as a potential break-in or worse. The other problem was that the window was higher than any other window of the house, so I would need something to stand on — leverage and such.
I was in dire need of a plan.
Aha! I spotted that old wheelbarrow in the yard behind ours. Confident if it all went well I could definitely, with some effort, move it to our side yard, turn it upside down, and then use it to climb into the bathroom, I wondered, Hmmm, long flannel nightgown no slippers for a firm grip can I get it lady-like?
Plan A began well. After wrapping my nightgown around my legs to look like pants, it only took me a few minutes to sneak to the wheelbarrow leaning up against the back of my neighbor’s garage.
In checking the ground for burrs, bugs, or snakes, I looked cautiously around. Good. No neighbors out, none peeking through drapes or curtains. I trusted the commuters wouldn’t really pay attention; they’d be oblivious, talking on their cell phones or staring straight ahead.
Acting like a thief, feeling like a crazed woman, I took the well-used concrete encrusted wheelbarrow and awkwardly pushed it around the house to the bathroom and turned it upside down. Yuck! Cut grass and spider stuff stuck everywhere!
His dog had followed me to the window and began barking and racing around in circles in the undersized bathroom, knocking things off the counter and toilet tank to the floor, or into the toilet. Hearing the crashing, I thought of my expensive perfume. My makeup and hairbrush. I just hated to think what else was there for him to demolish.
Pursing my lips for courage, I whisked most of the obnoxious stuff off the wheel barrel with my hands and wiped them off the best I could on the grass. I gingerly stepped up, avoiding the rusty parts, and took off the screen, exerting pressure up on the window frame. Oh good, miracles of miracles, not locked!
The window area looked OK for me to squeeze through. It all seemed simple enough; I figured if I could get my shoulders in, my hips were sure to follow.
I stuck my head into the bathroom. The mess didn’t seem too bad. Perfume, back of toilet, top appears to have held; no broken glass around; makeup doing the balancing act on the edge of counter; bath powder not as close, lid on … good; hairbrush, nowhere to be seen.
Going in; window wide enough for my shoulders. There’s always hope for the lower half.
His dog, overjoyed that I’d come to play, tore back into the hallway, hind legs scrunching the rugs as he sped around the corner. He returned with his squeaky bone; squeak, squeak, squeak resounding all the way back to the bathroom. “Midnight! Good boy! Go get your blankie; get your blankie for Mummy.”
I made my voice sweet as apple pie, hoping he’d get me his old towel so I could use it as a pad beneath me. Well, so much for that wish, he brought back his stuffed monkey.
I hoisted myself up, using my elbows on the window sill, jumping a bit as I wrestled a little more of my upper half through the window with the adroit skill of a beached walrus. (Thank goodness for granny-gowns because most of me was now up in the air.) In lieu of the dog’s blankie, I grabbed a hand towel that hung nearby to use as a pad for my ribs and subsequent hip bones.
That dog barked almost incessantly and slobbered continuously as he jumped around throwing his wild monkey up again and again until it landed, ending with a perfectly centered shot in the toilet. After studying his problem for a moment, he grabbed the soaked monkey and tossed it once more, splattering large drops on the large mirrored wall over the sink, at the same time tangling a rear paw in the shower curtain trim behind him.
Oh, I knew what was coming …
The rod ripped away from the wall on the far side. The shower curtain snapped from the rod, showering bits of exploded plastic rings over everything and shrouded that dog in a shimmering azure blue. The monkey landed splayed out, weeping toilet water over the floor and the disheveled bathmat, which now bore the piled remnants of my makeup and bath powder.
Poor Midnight masked in my once elegant shower curtain thrashed in circles, barking and yipping and sending clouds of powder and the wicker wastebasket filled with tissues, dental floss, and a used toothpaste tube flying. I shouted at him again, like he would listen to me, “Midnight! Stop! What a crazy mess!” When it was all over the tightly twisted shower curtain looked like it had come directly from the washer with its Dry Clean Only tag sticking straight up. The shower lining lay in a mangled heap in the tub. In his flailing, that dog managed to get the curtain off his head and did proceed to knock the bathroom door shut with his butt, so at least all was contained in the small room.
My body was beginning to hurt dangling halfway into the bathroom. I dragged and pulled myself a few more inches through, wondering how I was going to manage the outcome for the rest of my body. My waist was at the edge of the window sill. What could I grab? The sink was out of reach. If I balanced myself with one hand on the toilet tank and the other grasping the toilet seat (that was left in the up position), I could wiggle in, but I might slip down between the wall and the toilet, or end up in the toilet itself. This situation soooo needed a plan B.
Midnight jumped up — front paws straddling the toilet bowel — barking happily knowing that I really was coming in to play with him. “No Midnight! Get down!” I had a bad feeling of what might come next.
Into the toilet his paws went. Paws in, paws out. And water was everywhere. He jumped up again, hoisting one rear paw into the toilet, keeping one on the floor, balancing himself quite well as he plopped his wet front paws on my shoulders to lick my face and smother me with doggie kisses.
I was more than halfway through the window, belly button resting uncomfortably on the sill; one hand on the toilet tank, the other braced against the wall near the towel rack. I still had the widest part of my body to drag through, but by that time, I heard the sirens.
I moaned, “Oh, no. Plan B.”
Midnight barked, looking anxious. I waited, feeling anxious. He barked more. The fireman and police couldn’t contain their smiles; one laughed, and then apologized; he knew my husband, and the dog — Midnight was one of his dog’s litter. What a morning. What a mess. So embarrassing … why couldn’t he have just locked the window?
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