Locked Out

No one likes to get locked out of the house, especially in the winter.
The house is your sanctuary, your safe place. It represents shelter, security, and warmth. Heck, the Xbox, potato chips, and Twizzlers are in there.
Last February, in the frozen foods aisle of Mother Nature's supermarket, Green Bay, I had the house to myself for the afternoon and my mind set on doing some much needed cleaning. I was dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and slippers, having passed out of my experimental women's clothing phase weeks earlier.
Job one was vacuuming. Our gaggle of cats produces an extraordinary amount of fur and I quickly filled the Dyson with the equivalent of an entire animal's worth of hair. I strolled into the garage to empty the vacuum, making sure to close the door behind me so as not to let any cats or precious heated air escape on this frigid day.
I was on a roll, getting things done, taking care of business, moving, shaking, rocking, and rolling, until my hand hit the door handle on the way back into the house - it refused to move. After trying everything I could think of to open the stubborn door (i.e. jiggling the handle a lot), it was apparent that I wasn't getting into the house through the way I came in.
The first thought I had was how did that door get locked? Could it have been my daughter playing with the lock? Did it jam? Mischievous ghosts? Subsequent, less rational thoughts involved finding items to make a fire (wooden shelves and gasoline were considered) and selecting a place to relieve myself (garbage cans and a child's bicycle helmet were possibilities). No matter, I had to figure out a way to get back in the house, as the sub zero weather would not be forgiving to a man in slippers and a 1984 Huey Lewis t-shirt.
My best bet was to hope that I had carelessly left one of the other three doors to our house unlocked. In order to check, I had to go outside, dressed more for a hot toddy in front of a fireplace than an expedition through the frozen snow accumulating in my yard. I scavenged around in the garage and found a pair of rain boots that were a decided improvement over slippers. And although I didn't find a coat, some old moving blankets would have to do.
The image of Clark Griswold keeping warm in his attic briefly flashed through my brain as I left the garage to check the other three doors. No dice, Chicago. They were locked down tighter than a Ned Flanders alibi.
I rushed back to the relative warmth of the garage, breathing heavily partly as a result of the frigid air assaulting my lungs, partly because walking around the house now constitutes a serious workout in my sedentary existence.
I needed to come up with a new plan - my freezing toes were barking to me that the garage was not a long-term solution. I basically had two realistic options: walk next door to a kindly elderly neighbor and ask to use her phone or walk about a quarter mile to my mother in law's house along the golf course and get a spare key.
Not wanting to look like a fool, I of course chose the only real option, the long walk to my mother in law's house. I would be far less embarrassed asking her for help. After all, I've seen her without her teeth in.
So I set out to Grama's house, selecting the shortest route, through backyards along the deserted golf course. While the most direct route, as I struggled to wade through the literally foot deep snow, I realized this may have been a mistake. My heart was thumping, my breathing was short and fast, and I started to believe there was a strong possibility that I would perish right there in my kindly elderly neighbor's back yard, discovered face down sometime during the spring thaw by a golfer unsure if hitting a lifeless corpse results in a two stroke penalty.
Well, needless to say, I didn't expire that afternoon, and survived the incident with only damage to the part of my brain that abbreviates stories. Grama provided her spare key, loaned me her car, and I got back into my castle without further ado, where I decided to sit down safely for the rest of the afternoon, Xbox controller and Twizzlers firmly in hand.

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