My Twenty-Four Hours

I suppose I have to admit it. Last night was Rose’s birthday party — her first thirtieth birthday — and I wanted to be a good colleague, socialize, see the gang, and all. But as the time to leave for the party arrived, I realized that I had to check the email Rose sent me again to find the address. Alas, Rose had sent her mail to me at my U of G email address, and the mail server was down; I couldn’t retrieve the message from the server. After hitting “Reload” repeatedly, just in case, and looking in several files where I knew it wouldn’t be, I determined that it was time to take action. I knew the street she lived on, so I could just go and wait till someone I knew headed in.
By now I was about a half-hour late, so I look around and, at the last minute, thought I’d check my calendar to see if I had copied the address to it. Ah! I had, and I could have saved fifteen or twenty minutes by just checking there immediately. I grabbed the bottle I was taking and sprinted out the door. In fact, I jogged or sprinted much of the way over to Rose’s (and David’s; he does live there, too). I drew up at their street, and began looking up and down for their number. I sprinted out so fast that I forgot to take my phone with me. Oh, well.
As it turns out, their street has both odd and even numbers on the same side for the first block (the other side of the street has no street-address entrances). I headed down to the next block, and since one side of the street is occupied by a block-filling school building, I figured that the numbers would all go down the same side on this block too. But (as John Belushi said), No-o-o-o-o-o-o.There were no odd numbers in that block at all, despite the fact that I thought Rose’s house was an odd number that belonged smack in the middle of the sequence for this block. And I doubted that Rose lived in the high school.
I was staring intently at the doors and numbers, thinking that perhaps Rose occupies an entryway like Platform 9 3/4 Kings Cross Station. Was there a tiny crack between these two houses, where her number should be? Maybe I scrambled the numbers, and it would be in the higher-number block I just passed?
As I was trying to guess the magic words to reveal Rose’s doorway, I was passed by a familiar-looking couple who were also holding wine bottles. I kept an eye on them as they walked past me (to the higher numbers, where I had just been), but it looked to me as though they were lost, too. I approached them — “Sorry, but are you looking for Rose and David’s flat, too?” And it was Laura and Tom whom we had met at a party at Ben and Richard’s flat in January, and yes, they were looking too. To my great relief, Laura remembered the number as the same as what I had thought.
After a while, we drifted down the hill, to the block that would have lower numbers than Roses’s, and sure enough, their flat was in the block beyond where the other side’s numbers had already passed it (if you see what I mean).
Once having gotten there, I had a delightful evening, sipped a wee bit of wine, fended off whisky, and headed home at a quite reasonable hour so that I’d be well-rested for church this morning. As I passed through the revelers in Ashton Lane and strode steadily up to the entry of my building, I reached in my pocket and pulled out — my office keys. I had locked myself out of my own apartment. I spent about twenty minutes standing around the front door, hoping that someone would come in and I could at least look reproachfully at my door to see whether guilt would make it admit me. This tactic was foiled, however, by the fact that no one was coming in or going out (the residents of my building keep very sensible hours). I didn’t want to buzz anyone and wake them up, especially since I didn’t have the key to my flat’s door, so I just stood outside and looked glum.
After not too much glum-looking, I reasoned that a warm, indoor office chair with internet access beat a chilly concrete offline front step any time, so I walked back to my office and stumbled up the steps to my pedagogical aerie. There I checked in with Margaret, and looked around for the appurtenances that would make the night more restful than trying to sleep on a bed of nails. In the end, I rotated among sleeping sitting up with my feet on a chair, sleeping sitting down with my head in my arms on my table, and sleeping sitting down with my head on a pillow borrowed from the kitchen-lounge. Woke up about 5:30, fit to. . . go back asleep. Unfortunately, that was not to be.
I took some time to wake up and have a cup of tea , then struck out for church; I went to the early service so that (a) my slept-in clothes wouldn’t be noticed by as many people, and (b) I could get back to the flat to wait for any locksmith I might call after church, and greet him cheerily.
Kelvin, bless him, showed me a neighbourhood locksmith near the cathedral, but his shop was closed for Sunday. Kelvin spotted another locksmith in the Yellow Pages, but it turned out that he, too, observed the Lord’s Day (or was sleeping off a hangover, or preparing for watching Six Nations rugby all day, or something). Eventually I tracked down a locksmith in my neighbourhood, but his son — who was supposed to be manning the mobile — wasn’t picking up when I called. I tried for a couple of hours, then two and a half, and finally got through to him at about 12:30 — met him at the flat at about 1:15, and have been snug inside since then, but too awake to nap, too groggy to be productive or useful.
Tomorrow I set off for Durham to talk with their biblical students about postmodernity, the underdetermination of meaning, and the problems with trying to use the term “literal.” I will sleep a lot before I leave.

3 thoughts on “My Twenty-Four Hours

  1. Oh Dear, Akma, my heart goes out to you. Should that happen again, please don’t hesitate to come to our Anniesland bolt-hole.

  2. You poor dear, that is grim indeed – a veteran of travel on the cheap I find a floor is usually more comfortable than a chair – especially if one can improvise a pillow. I remember Rome Airport floor and the shock of the security men as they moved on the young back packers, too poor to afford a hotel for a few hours, and in among them rose up myself, then in my mid thirties, and my mother, then in her mid seventies (ditto as to finances).

  3. Your nostalgic reference to G & S Penzance reminds me that your 24-hour nightmare reads like the song “When you’re lying awake with a dismal headache” from Iolanthe. Can you recite the whole thing from memory?

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