I locked myself in the bathroom Monday night and against all odds, with nothing but human ingenuity and good old fashioned fear, I escaped.
The bathroom I was in is the one that today is absolute rubble and exposed pipe and tufts of insulation. Before it was rubble, though, it had to be a bathroom without any stuff in it. This is an important detail.
“Get everything outta there,” my contractor said on the phone, “’cause on Tuesday the whole thing’s going into a dumpster.” My eyes got real big and I began at once to move my belongings into my back bathroom with visions of Danny and his crew tossing my perfume samples and sea sponges into a bin with the old tile. By the end of the day, the bathroom was denuded, empty of mouthwash bottles, bobby pins, half-rolled up tubes of Ben Gay (when did I buy Ben-Gay?) and contact lens juice. I did leave a roll of toilet paper in there, however. Until they removed the toilet, the bathroom was still functional in that regard and I might as well use that part of it, right?
On Monday night I went into that bathroom to pee. (Well, it’s true!) I shut the door behind me, heard a tiny click, and A Great Dread passed over me. There was no doorknob on that door. What there was was the inner apparatus where there is typically an attendant doorknob. This meant that the door’s internal tumbler latch thingy was latched but there was no knob to turn the works. I stuck my finger in the metal and wiggled it. Okay, wow. I was locked in my bathroom. An empty, tool-less bathroom. Had I not taken every last item out of the space earlier in the day, I wouldn’t have been terribly worried. A toothbrush would jimmy the latch all right; one of those bobby pins would’ve worked great. But I had nothing. And I would need something to work in that door latch. Immediately.
I spun around. Ah-ha! The shower curtain! I hadn’t taken it down! I seized the curtain and pulled off one of the hooks. Yes, a piece of skinny metal! But it was useless; the curve of it was too thick and tight and it wouldn’t fit where I needed it to go. I tossed it to the floor. What else, what else? Ah! There, by the sink, an empty matchbook! I grabbed it and tore it into a hard little cardboard stick and jimmied at the latch. The stick bent. It bent into a wad and the door laughed. I was getting concerned. My ultimate “I will do anything to get out of here” plan was to body slam myself against the door again and again and again until I broke it open, but getting a running start from the tub was not going to be easy. It would be more of a flying leap from the edge of it and I foresaw a chipped tooth and a concussion, but I ask you: What price, freedom?
Just as I was about to start my flying leaps, I saw it: the doorstop. One of those spring metal ones. I wrenched it off the door and uncoiled it, bending it back on itself, fashioning a dandy and rather dangerous-looking tool. I worked it in the latch. Worked it some more. Turned. Jiggled. And then…
There was no fanfare. No picture in the paper celebrating my derring-do. I had but the personal satisfaction of a job stupidly done (locking myself in my empty bathroom) followed by a job well done (getting out.) Incidentally, I had an appointment with my shrink yesterday and when I got there, he had locked himself out of his office — the key had broken in the lock. The session would likely not happen, he said, which was fine with me. Sometimes I don’t feel like digging through the dirt. The weather was so rainy and cozy, I just wanted to drink cocoa and read a book.
“I’m so sorry, Mary. I’ll call you to reschedule,” said Dr. Herman. “Twenty years of practice, this has never happened to me before.”
“You’ll figure it out,” I said, opened my umbrella, and walked out into the rain.