Sometimes, things happens to you in your adult life that trouble you to your very soul, that scar you to such a degree that you block them out of your head, maybe with the assistance of chemicals or mood-altering pharmaceuticals.
Like that one time I tried to leave the Black Butte housing development in central Oregon the morning after a snow storm. I drove in circles for two hours, unable to find the road that led out of the development. I passed the same curling white lanes and the identical, pine-shrouded mountain chalet houses over and over and over again until finally, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, I followed another driver out to the highway. Accordingly, I refuse ever to go to Black Butte again.
Anyway, my friend Enid wrote about how her cruel husband locked her inside her house with the Ukrainian cleaning lady. It stirred up memories of the most traumatic thing that happened to me in Baku.
Our apartment had one of those front doors that are very common in the FSU. You can lock it from the inside by means of a gear-like thing -- a primitive, retarded deadbolt, if you will. If it's locked from the inside, there's no unlocking it from the outside. I guess it was designed to keep the KGB out.
I arrived home from a work trip to Warsaw at four am. I waved my driver and his warm white Volga away and hauled my heavy bag up the two flights of stairs. I put my key in the lock and turned. Nothing happened.
No, something did happen. The Carpetdogs started barking their heads off, as they are wont to do when anyone comes to the door. I rang the doorbell. Once, twice, three times. Four times. A dozen times. No sleepy foot steps. No admonishments to "dogs shut up!" No sound, except frenzied barking.
Clearly, the Producer had indulged in some kind of horse tranquilizer, or a prodigious amount of alcohol, 'cause for the next two hours, I called his mobile, called the home phone, rang the doorbell and banged on the door. The Carpetdogs became hoarse. I became hysterical. It was, after all, early February at four in the morning, and freezing cold.
I knew I was doomed when the dogs stopped barking at the doorbell -- the first and only time this has ever happened. They, and my mobile, were my only hope. The dogs were going back to bed and my battery was nearly dead. I cursed all three, wait, I mean four of them. What to do? I tried curling up on the landing, but my ovaries started to freeze.
I did what I should have done after the first 20 minutes.
I left my suitcase on the doorstep, ran out to the street, got a taxi and checked into the Hyatt. It was 6 am and I was well past the point where $180 seemed excessive for five or six hours.
I was pretty confident the suitcase on the doorstep, 200 increasingly vitriolic sms's and 500 missed calls would have the desired impact. Nestled into the Hyatt's cloudlike down comforter, I went off to sleepyland. I had also done what any aggrieved wife would have done. I switched my mobile off.
The next day, after sufficient time had passed to ensure maximum anguish over my whereabouts, I revealed my secret location. Naturally, harsh words and accusations were exchanged. Only one party had grounds for a grievance and the accused offered no defense. It was up to the guilty party to atone, which he did.
From that day forward, every time we planned to come home at different times, I would provide a gentle reminder. "Don't lock the top lock." Maybe even a pre-bedtime call . "Good night. I love you. You didn't lock the top lock, did you?"
The top lock was never locked again. See? They can be trained. It's hard work though.