i always feel a bit strange just talking about what’s been going on. I don’t really do things that way. There are sort of two ways to follow my life: (1) Just tag along and experience it, or (2) Accept the retelling of it in stories. I’m not so great at the bullet points. I think in stories. It has to shape up with a beginning, middle, and end for me to tell it.
That said, I’ll try to bullet point a few things before I talk about the gate.
*I’m currently working on getting a patent for my new torture device for racoons. It involves wiring ordinary outdoor trashcans with explosives. Working title is The Coonflagrator. I’m not married to the title, but I’ve already married and started a family with the invention.
*Chickens like water. If you own chickens, make sure you give them water.
*On our annual pilgrimage to Texas, it became apparent that i will never road-trip again without some sort of horrific health issue with the kids. This is a disturbing discovery that I pretty much have to solve. I can’t stop road-tripping. I wonder what would happen if I didn’t tell them. If I just stuck them in the car and pretended I was going to the grocery store. At 4 a.m. In another state.
*You would think the horrific health incidents might have occurred in Louisiana. This was strangely not the case. That doesn’t mean there was any love gained, though.
*Just recently, I spent some time at the beach with the local cousins and my kids. It was perfection in almost every way.
And that leads me to the Gate. The Beach Gate. The Gateway to the Ocean. The gate that should never, ever have been erected.
Years ago, the family beach condo sat nestled in some sea oats and looked out toward unspoiled sand and sea. As you walk out toward the ocean, to the right there is a pool, fenced in as pools should be. To the left there were two tiki hut cabanas with picnic tables. And in front of you, there was nothing.
Then one year we showed up to frolic in the sun and came face-to-face with a large, white, pvc fence that ran the width of the condo’s property. Some grumpy old bag had decided that too many people were wandering off the street and using their beach access and WE CAN’T HAVE THAT. So they put up a white, plastic prison to keep out the riffraff. Most of the time, though, it traps the wrong people.
It never fails to trap me on the opposite side of where I desperately need to be.
One year they had the gate rigged with a combination that never worked. You could punch those numbers in all day long with the force of a lumberjack and the precision of an accountant and still be standing there with your pooping baby, locked far, far away from diapers, or ambulances, or valium.
When that combo code thing utterly failed, they went to the standard lock and key method. I know it SOUNDS simple enough. You keep the key on you. Use it. Viola! But if you have one key and 8 people in your party, you are bound to end up in an awkward situation on the wrong side of that gate at some point.
Not that I would know.
It was a Monday afternoon and we had decided to order pizza to be delivered to the beach. We would eat it at the tiki cabana, so as not to interrupt our frolicking too much. I had my very smart phone with me outside, so I looked up the number for the pizza place and dialed it without a lot of forethought. I knew what I would be ordering. But I was grossly underprepared for the anything else.
I was sitting in a beach chair enjoying life and placing my order when the woman on the other end asked the most natural question in the world: What’s your address?
Um. I don’t know. I think, um, there’s a 9 in it. Hold up. I’ll go look real quick.
I went running, while on the line with the Pizza Lady, muttering things like, I’m really sorry. Hang on while I just get to the parking lot and look up at the building. Almost there. So sorry.
All of my ludicrous muttering came to a screeching halt when I got to the gate and realized my nephew had the key and was swimming like a drunken octopus in the pool. Have you ever tried to make a 12 year old boy hear you when they are under water and you are on the phone with a pizza lady? Yeah. It doesn’t work. Most 12 year old boys don’t hear you even if you manage to pipe your voice directly into their hear aids.
So instead of just muttering stupid apologies, now I was yelling for my nephew to come bring me the key. That’s much better.
This did not work. I was then faced with the decision to find another way into that parking lot to get the silly address or hang up and change the evening menu to grits and fruit snacks. As I was trying to rather immediately decide on my next course of action, a shirtless man walked up. I didn’t look at him immediately, because at that point it was hard to even see around my own thoughts. I was about to pass out from the pressure. When I finally did look at him, because it suddenly occurred to me that he might have a gate key, I had to take a slight step back. He was covered in blood, holding his arms like he had just been scrubbed into surgery, and was holding a large knife in his left hand.
It seems like I shouldn’t ask this guy for a gate key. Or anything. But the pizza lady.
“You don’t have a gate key, do you?” I asked him. Please don’t kill me right here in the open.
“I do, actually,” he paused. “But I can’t get to it.” This wasn’t going to work. I yelled for my nephew again. He made some sort of explanation about cleaning a fish. Then he concluded with, ‘This is a bit awkward, but you can open my pouch and get my key if you want to.”
Hmm. This is definitely the strangest Gate Fiasco I have encountered yet. Fishing Dude needed to be where I was standing in order to hose off. I needed to be where he was standing to get my own address. Only a gate and a fanny pack stood between our two destinies.
I opened that fanny pack with the pizza lady still on the line. There were like 800,000 things inside that pouch. It was like his last 8 tax returns folded up and tucked away for his fish murder. Who needs THAT MUCH STUFF while fishing? There was no finding that key.
By this time, which seemed like the next morning, my nephew had come to my rescue with the key and I was free to run like a gazelle toward my address. FINALLY. I gave the woman my address and then asked about how long it would be. 40 minutes. No big deal. OK. Thank you. See you then.
Wait! She says. What do you want to order?
I’ll bet she told a slightly different version of this story to whomever was standing next to her when she hung up the phone.
The pizza was good.
The address is 19418.
I will never EVER forget those numbers again.
The fence in question is in the background. There is a break in the fence where we tied the gate open.