A Bad Day
I have a headache right now. I should just go to bed and wait out the rest of this day lying under the covers ignoring reality, drifting in the soft, warm comfort of dreams and silence. But what I’m doing instead is writing this while listening to Macy Gray humping her bass. I’m yawning already because I’m having a day which I can easily define as Lance Fucks Up Day.
It started at 1:00 AM, Pacific Standard Time. And this is how it started.
I had been working on a client’s project (rather than one of my own, which are all sitting either inside my brain waiting to be purged or on a Word document as the frame of an idea) and, as often happens, I was not paying attention to the time. I had been doing laundry so I knew that at least two hours had passed, since it takes about an hour to dry a load and I’d done, I don’t need to tell you, two. The first I folded up and left on the bed, the second I dumped next to the first meaning to fold it but failing miserably.
Anyway, I suddenly felt tired, which is usually how that works for me. I suddenly feel tired. Like I just realize that I’m yawning and my eyes are tearing and I’m drooling and my nose is running (all my fluids really start pumping when I’m yawning, such a nuisance) and all the sudden I decide, hey! I’m tired! Sometimes that will pass and I get lethargic but not tired, so that I end up staring at TV or the Web until 3 in the morning. Fun!
At any rate, at 1:00AM I was tired, but I hadn’t finished what I needed to finish for a meeting later that morning at 10:00AM so I decided that the least I could do is get more comfortable, so I put on my butter-colored terry cloth robe and my LLBean snuggly warm slippers made of some dead animal (because the live ones bite your instep) and went back to the computer where I noted the boxes that I had to put out for garbage collection, and now I’m wearing my robe and slippers.
I’m sure there are plenty of people ready, willing and able to take the garbage out in their robe and slippers, but I am not one of them. For one thing, all I was wearing was my robe and slippers. For another, my neighborhood is not exactly quiet even at one in the morning. So I sighed heavily and pulled my jeans and T-shirt back on, patted my pocket to make sure I had my keys, grabbed the boxes, opened the front door, opened the wrought iron gate and walked outside to put the boxes on the curb.
Turning, I looked up into the clear, dark sky, watched my breath turn into fog as I exhaled, stuck my hand in my pocket and pulled out my watch.
See, normally, I wouldn’t put my watch in my pocket. Normally I’d put my keys there, and I have a habit of always feeling for my keys and wallet without actually touching them. I just look for the bulge—you should excuse the expression. But this time the bulge of the keys, which would have allowed me access back through the wrought iron gate which locks itself, was my watch, which told me I was now locked outside my apartment in jeans and a T-shirt at a little past one in the morning.
First thing through my head: I know the gate is locked and there’s no way to reach through and open it but maybe, maybe it isn’t locked. Maybe, this one time, even though I distinctly heard the gate close and go click and lock itself back up tight just like it’s supposed to, maybe it’s actually still open!
So I pulled on it, and lo and behold it really was entirely locked. Locked very tightly and the metal was very cold, like me! There’s the door to my apartment, hanging wide open, with all the heat leaching out, and here I am, on the sidewalk, five feet away, stuck.
I walked across the street, hoping against hope that another resident’s lights are still lit, at 1:05AM on a Friday morning. And none of them are. But maybe, maybe they’re just sitting there awake in the darkness and not asleep and if I ring a bell, they will come down and let me into my own apartment!
So I ring my upstairs neighbor’s doorbell. I do it very carefully, so that I don’t disturb him as I wake him from a sound sleep. And I wait for something to happen, and nothing does. Nothing at all.
Everyone Will Hate Me
So, I stand there wondering if I should ring the bell again. As I think about that, I am also trying to consider my options, here. If the thought of bothering my neighbors (and illustrating exactly what an idiot I am) is too embarrassing to contemplate, what else can I do? I have no wallet, so I have no money, no ID, no nothing. I have no car I could sleep in, and even if I did, my keys are in my apartment, not in my hand, hence my problem. The bars on the block over are already closed, so I can’t call anyone. If I’m going to wake someone up from a sound sleep and make them mad at me, I’m sure as hell not going to knock on another building’s door and wake up another building’s tenants when I have a whole building of helpful, peacefully sleeping residents in front of me.
I go to the next gate over and ring the upstairs bell there, because that’s the guy that I give my rent check to and that’s the guy who I had to ask to get access to the secret, locked room in the basement so my DSL line could be installed, and that’s the guy whose old apartment I now occupy, which I asked them to pretty much undo everything he’d done to it like paint over the Velveeta orange and pull down his full-length mirrors in the bedroom and de-install the faux fireplace (with a lighted mirror this time) and put the doors back on the storage space under the stairs because, no, I didn’t think I’d put my TV in there so I can watch it from bed.
Nothing. Again. Nothing. 1:15AM.
So now I’m thinking, I’m being too nice. Fuck it if anyone thinks I’m an idiot, I am an idiot! Ding dong! Ding dong! Diiiiiiiing dong!
Still nothing! What the hell is up with everyone? Aren’t they even curious as to why someone keeps ringing the doorbell at 1:17 in the morning? Couldn’t they at least come to the window to see if I’m bleeding to death after cutting my arm off putting empty cardboard boxes out, unable to grasp the keys from the pain, unable to cry out because after I fell to the sidewalk I bit my tongue so hard that it’s all swollen up? Ding dong! Ding dong! Hello! Hello! I’m dying on your sidewalk! Ding dong!
The window upstairs opens, a head pokes out, I hear “Lance! What’s wrong?”
“I’m really sorry, but I accidentally locked myself out!”
“But I don’t have a key for that gate.”
“There’s no key?”
“Antelmo has it.”
Keys To The Kingdom
So he goes, “Is Bien home?” That’s my upstairs neighbor. And, yes, no one in the building has an ordinary name. This is San Francisco, remember?
“I rang his bell a lot, but no one answered. His car is here, but it’s got a parking ticket on it from today so he never moved it so I’m thinking he’s gone.”
“No key? Then, I guess… um… ”
“Well, we have to get you in.” I agree silently. Yes, please, I’m freezing out here next to the garbage. “Hold on a minute.”
The window closes.
So, now I’m thinking, maybe he’s waking up Antelmo in Oakland and telling him that the idiot new tenant with no taste for mirrored living has somehow managed to lock himself out of his own apartment and you need to get some clothes on, bring the key, and come let him in.
And then I’m think Antelmo’s saying, “Fuck him. Doesn’t he know it’s 1:20 in the morning? What the hell is he doing outside anyway, all the bars are closed!”
“I don’t know, Antelmo. He’s standing out there on the street in jeans and a T-shirt.”
“It’s like 40 degree outside!”
“I think he knows that.”
“What a frigging idiot. Well, I’m not coming over there. My cat is sick and my truck’s carb is clogged with soot from when my hair caught fire earlier today.”
“I’ll tell him.”
Then I’m trying to figure out where to go. The nearest friend I can think of is Derek, and he lives over a great, big hill. It’s probably about a 45 minute walk. I don’t even have change for MUNI. Maybe I can bum some off a bum, which would be the only people on the street at 1:24 in the morning.
“Spare some change, Mister?”
“No, but can you?”
Then the gate opens. Apparently there is a magical portal leading between the upstairs apartments, making me instantly wonder about magical portals into my own apartment and that simply drawing the curtains when I need “private time” may not be enough.
It’s 1:27 in the morning, and I get back into my apartment.
Just The Beginning
So I do another hour’s worth of work on the project, I’m sorta hyped up from brain overdrive from thinking too much outside, can’t sleep, know I have to get up in about five hours, and it’s one of those situations where the more you try to sleep, the less you actually sleep. Yes, friends, it’s that familiar refrain that echoes through the head of many an insomniac, “I need to go to sleep. Why can’t I go to sleep? I need to go to sleep. Why can’t I go to sleep? I’m going to sleep now. Why can’t I go to sleep?”
Eventually, somehow, I drift off.
At 7:00AM, my phone rings. I have no idea what time it is, but I was afraid I was going to sleep through the alarm and my meeting would call me asking where the hell I was and did I really want this job, so I put the phone on the nightstand and I answered it like this: “Huh hell huhloh?” Only groggier.
“Is this Lance Arthur?”
“Yes it is?” And who the hell is this?
“This is (potential client) calling from (potential client’s company) in Austin. Is this a good time?”
“Buh. Whuh. Huh.”
“Did I wake you up?”
Well, do I say, “No, I’ve accidentally stuffed toilet paper in my mouth. Used toilet paper.”—or—”No, but the drugs haven’t quite worn off, yet. And why is that porpoise making an ommelette with Abraham Lincoln?” but instead I answered, simply, “Well, sort of.”
“Oh, I’m sorry! When should I call back?”
Work brain! Brain? Hello? Brain? “Uh, mumble 10AM meeting, mumble lunch date, mumble conference call, after 4:00, your time?”
“So, that would be after five, your time?”
Ah. He thinks I’m still in Boston. So do I correct him and cause him more possible embarrassment, or give a quick answer and get back to sleep? “Yes. That’s right.”
“Okay. Talk to you then!”
Pound the pillow, try to get back to sleep. One more hour.
Bang! Clang! Rumble, rumble, rumble.
Oh, yeah. Garbage day. I seem to remember something about that.
Well, okay, the world wants me to get up—or just be up for the rest of the day. Fine. I’ll get up, take my shower, be all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for my 10:00! What a great plan!
9:35, another phone call. My 10:00AM. Says she was in another conference all evening and didn;t get my email verifying the meeting until this morning. Can we resched?
First thought: Fuck bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I can go back to sleep! “Yes, let’s reschedule!”
Next thing on Lance’s schedule, lunch in SOMA. But does Lance call first to verify that meeting? No, Lance does not. Even when Lance considers that the date was made Monday evening after a bottle of wine and the other party works fulltime in an office and has responsibilities and a dog and all sorts of things to cause forgetfulness or distractions from the more important things in life, namely Lunch?
So, I get on MUNI to ride to SOMA and the nice conductor man tells me, “Oh, we aren’t going that far. Embarcadero is the end of the line! There’s a bus…”
Wow. That makes me so happy!
Long Story Short
Anyway, as you can guess, she did forget the lunch, but I only had to wait 20 minutes or so and we went to some ritzy shitzy restaurant off South Park and I had a G&T with my steak lunch, feeling quite the stockbroker 80’s power tie Yuppie scumsucker dude, wishing I could have lit up a cigar and blown smoke at the bartender who hated me.
The (potential client) never called back. Probably thought the dolphin thing was more likely, and why the hell was I still asleep in Boston at 10AM? (Not that I get up much before 11AM in San Francisco, either.)
I promise to keep a key on my person somewhere at all times in case I ever lock myself out again. I mean, c’mon, what’s an orifice for?
January 29, 2000