38: The Door Bell

38: The Door Bell

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

The Door Bell

Laugh at yourself first, before anyone else can.

~Elsa Maxwell

We had just moved into our new house — our dream house. Finally our family had room to spread out and each of us — my husband, our three sons, and I — had enough space so that we weren’t stepping all over each other all of the time. What a luxury! It was a wonderful two-story house and each boy had his own bedroom. My husband and I had a wonderful bedroom upstairs right at the front of the house.

I was busy trying to get unpacked and put things away but with three young sons, all under the age of eight, it wasn’t easy. My husband helped as much as he could but he was working during the day and by the time he got home and we had dinner, neither of us wanted to unpack boxes. It was taking us a while to get settled.

One night, after dinner, after the kids were in bed, Frank decided he would just go upstairs to our bedroom and take a short nap. Great idea. Now I love my husband and I love being married but I also like some time to just be by myself — to think and relax. If he were to go and take a nap that would give me some of that alone time — all-alone time — for the first time in our new house and what a rare opportunity that is for a mother with young children. So what did I do? I took off my clothes, put on my robe and decided I was just going to relax. No television, no book, no telephone, no nothing. Just me… and the quiet.

It was an unseasonably warm evening in January in California. The temperature was probably still seventy degrees at 9 p.m. and rather than sit in the house, I decided to sit outside in the back yard. I didn’t even want the dog to come outside with me, so much to her annoyance I made her stay in the house. I just wanted to be alone. All alone. And alone I was. Completely. Totally. I opened the kitchen door and walked outside. The evening was divine; the air was not only warm but there was this amazing aroma of orange blossoms. I was in heaven. It was absolutely still. I relaxed and although we had been in our new house only a few weeks, I knew we would be happy here.

After an hour, it was time to go back in. I walked to the kitchen door and turned the handle. Nothing happened. Tried it again… still nothing. Was the door stuck? I pulled and pulled. Nothing. I knew I left the door unlocked when I came outside. Suddenly I realized that, in her great effort to get outside to be with me, the dog had somehow pushed the knob in and locked the door. And I was stuck outside. In my robe.

But not to worry. I knew the two younger boys, Mike and Rob, would already be asleep but my oldest, John, would probably still be awake. He could come downstairs, unlock the door and let me in. I took a handful of pebbles and threw them at his upstairs window. “John… John… are you awake?” I listened. Nothing. I tried again. All was quiet. I had three choices: I could spend the night outside, but it was starting to get chilly. I could go knock on my neighbors’ door but I felt silly going to their house. First of all, underneath my robe, I was… naked! We had just moved in and I didn’t know them, hadn’t even met them. What kind of a first impression would I make if I knocked on their door like that? So that left option number three: I would try and wake my husband.

There was one small problem with that option… my husband doesn’t take kindly to being awakened from a nap. But what choice did I have? So I walked through the gate to the front of the house and walked up the front steps. The front steps and front door are visible to the entire street but thank goodness no one was outside at this hour.

Our mail slot was located in the middle of the front door so I sat down on the step in front of the door, rang the bell, opened the mail slot and very gently called, “Frank.” Then I put my ear to the slot and listened. All was quiet; there was no response to my call. So I rang the bell, opened the mail slot again and this time called a little louder, “Frank.” I jerked my ear around to the slot and listened. Surely he had heard me this time. No response. Then, being the adult that I am, I started to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Picture this. Here I was sitting on my front steps, in my robe, ringing the bell and talking into the mail slot in the front door. The more I thought about it, the funnier it seemed to me. The funnier it seemed, the harder I laughed. But, you’ve got to know that it’s not a good thing to laugh if you are trying to wake Frank. Not a good thing at all.

I tried again. I rang the bell over and over, opened the mail slot but this time I yelled and laughed at the same time, “Frank!!” I quickly put my ear to the slot and I… wait, I heard something. What was it? It was Frank calling… to me. “Barbara.” I was frantic. I had made contact with the sleeping bear. I needed to keep going before he fell back to sleep. Again I rang the bell over and over, ding-dong ding-dong, and yelled/laughed, “Frank… Frank!!” I was laughing hysterically into the mail slot. Then I heard his voice: “Barbara, Barbara… the door bell is ringing. Someone’s at the door. GET THE DOOR.” Now I completely lost it. I couldn’t breathe. Tears of laughter were streaming down my face as I gasped through the mail slot one last time. “FRANK… I AM THE DOOR!”

And that’s when I heard it. The man I married, my knight in shining armor, my savior, my protector, my hero came stomping down the stairs, threw the door open, glared at me as I sat on the front steps, in my robe, in hysterics and said, “Well if it’s so damn funny, you can just sit there all night!” He turned right around, stomped back up the stairs, fell on the bed and promptly fell back to sleep.

I came inside, closed the door and tried to stop laughing. It took me a long time to be able to breathe normally but finally I calmed down. And the best part of this whole story is that the next morning, when I reminded Frank what had happened, he didn’t remember it at all. Nothing. He thought I’d made the whole thing up. Ah… married life!

 

~Barbara LoMonaco

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