Ass Over Teakettle Requires Underwear!

A snowy day many years ago.  Actually, the day after the snowy day.  The sidewalks are shoveled, the streets are plowed.  White crystalline mountains give way to paths somewhat navigable.  The windows of the old house are a glow with light, giving a bird’s-eye view to the gathering within its warmth. DSC_0194

In her prettiest poodle skirt and hair coifed to a tee, my Sophia Loren look-a-like mother was set to make her best impression.  Today was the day she meets ‘the family.’   

Those first introductions are so uneasy and exciting all at once.  Butterflies twitter in places you never knew they could.  And when things go right, when they go as you could only hope…. it’s a wonderful feeling. 

The introduction was a success.  The first impression triumphant.  The time to say goodbye’s had arrived – it was a good night.  Janice, feeling confident and at ease, headed for the exit.  Try as she might, the screen door would not open. 

Checking the lock… rechecking again… wiggle, wiggle… push, push!  PUSH!  The door would not budge.  

By now, the rest of the people trying to leave the house were bottlenecked behind her.  It was Janice’s duty to release them… all she needed to do was open the door.  Stepping back, she readied herself to propel her body into the wooden frame.  A sturdy, skillful shoulder slam should do the trick.  Into position, and forward she threw herself…….. 

Now, to shift focus for just a moment:  Unbeknownst to Janice, a helping hand was headed her way.  Of course, it would have been nice if she had a little warning… you know, ‘by the way, the door needs an extra tap here, let me help you’ but no, that’s not the way life works.  (Besides that would take all the fun out of this story.) 

So from behind, a weighty sturdy hand appears over head.  Just as her shoulder hits the door, the hand strikes the stuck part of the frame, and with a jolt, the door flies open.  With a jolt, Janice flies out the door… careens down the snow dusted path, and tumbles head first into a snow bank.  Her prize poodle skirt duly overhead… and seeing that she was now upside down, this was not where the poodle was most helpful.  

The rest of the family never made it out the door.  (Who could move that fast?!)  (Other than Janice – though she felt in slow-motion!)  They stood in awe, first at what just happened, and now at what they were seeing. (As did the startled man across the street – who’s dog went from squatting to protective-snarling-mode rather abruptly. The look on the man’s face, as he knee-jerk-yanked the leash closer – and the poor dog’s face, for that matter – is forever imbedded in Janice’s mind.  This as she imbedded head-first, donning a mouthful and nose-full of icy crystals.)   A pair of legs – like the stamens of a flower – poked out from the taffeta strewn hem, which ringed – ever so pretty, like a halo of lacy flower petals – around her. (and her pre-Victoria Secrets era derriere)DSC_0471

Try as she might, she could not right herself.  Why?  Why?!  Isn’t it a wonder how quickly a world can turn upside down?!  Why not right side up… up… up I said!   I suppose this might have been a great time to stay ‘hiding’ in the snow bank… much like an ostrich with his head in the sand… I know I would not want to face that giggling audience – though choices were merciless and dim.     

With her face beyond blushing, and other parts of her anatomy beyond freezing, Janice righted herself from her snow-white-abyss – focused on the blessing that no bones were broken – and somehow continued to live a good life.  (No, this was not the man she married, and no, this was not the cause.)

Fast forward to 2009.  The window frames the man inside.  He stands at his kitchen counter cooking.  Sunday is prepare-family-dinners-for-the-week day.  A liter bottle of raspberry seltzer keeps him hydrated and from eating all his hard work.  It is halfway finished, as is his cooking.  Out of the corner of his eye he sees his neighbor, Betty, trying to get his attention.  (Betty is not her real name… for reasons that will soon become known.)

Now just to be clear, Betty is a nice elderly woman, but she likes to talk.  This wasn’t an opportune time, but there she was.  She had spotted him through the window and was waving insistently to get his attention.

Bob, super-nice-easy-going-guy that his is, went to the back door.  (not his real name either…)  

From his stoop he could see over the fence that divided their yards, her grey hair and weathered face was peeking over the rail.  

“I’m locked out.  Can you help me?”  It really wasn’t a question, though she was pleading.  Determined and desperate.  What’s a guy to do?  Well, being of the male-macho-I-can-fix-anything gender, climb in the window – of course.  

Thinking this would only take a moment, and making sure to point out that he had food on the stove – aka his time was limited. (This, the bit of assurance he needed to avoid ‘the talk.’)  Bob set out to get Betty back in her house.  Quickly.

As he entered her yard, it didn’t take long for him to assess that he had gotten ‘in’ over his head.  There Betty stood, in a makeshift house dress that really shouldn’t have been worn outside, lest at all.  (So much for Sunday best.  Make a mental note ladies:  There comes a point when certain outfits can no longer be made to ‘work.’  Maybe some of us 40 or 50 year olds can make them – maybe.  But after 60, it is seriously questionable… and after 70?  Well… this is where I think we have to start living vicariously through our younger generations.)  

So here is Betty, who just ran out of her house – to innocently toss a bag of garbage in the can – when the door locked behind her.  No key hidden under a wayward rock… nor mat… not even in the garage.  (Bob asked.) 

Rechecking the widows on the front porch was the first step.  Though Betty tried, the hope was that manly hands could finesse them open.  

No luck.  

Next was the side windows.  Reaching up from ground level proved difficult and luckless.  Not convinced they were locked – after all it could just be the disadvantage of distance and angle – Bob asked for a ladder.  

Betty, who had been talking and shadowing him from window to window, was now off to the garage to see if there was anything Bob could stand on.  (She ‘thought’ she had a ladder, but wasn’t sure where it was…)  In the mean time, an overturned crate served quite well, and the sad determination was made… The first floor windows were securely locked. 

Needing that ladder, Bob set out to see if he could help Betty find it.  There she was, in the middle of the garage, struggling to dig out a ladder that was far to large for her to handle, much less any person.  Seriously who makes ladders this long… It has to be a man, has to.  That whole mine is bigger than yours thang.  

Fully extended to the second story, Bob asked one last time, “Are you sure you don’t have a key hidden anywhere?”  He really didn’t want to have to climb.  (A bit of insight: a bad knee and a shoulder waiting on surgery was now of more concern than the food on his stove.)  Betty shook her head, “No, there isn’t an extra key.”  Up the ladder he went.   

Betty steadied and watched – and chatted – from below, as her hero attempted yet another window.  Push.  Push… Need leverage… Gotta get a better angle… PUSH!  Voilà, the window opened!  And… as it did, the ladder lurched sideways, leaving Bob hanging by his armpit from the sill two stories up.  Betty was thrown off balance and so surprised she jolted backwards, loosing her complete balance – toppling ass over tea kettle.  Grey hair flying all about – limbs flailing – legs spread eagle – bottoms up, as the saying goes – flimsy-makeshift-housedress up over her head – Good Grief!?  As Bob clung for his life, he got a full birds-eye-view of his sweet-but-talkative old neighbor.  In an instant he learned that under that flimsy housedress, was… nothing!  All the eye averting attempts were too late to un-see.

Try as she might Betty could not right herself, certainly not fast enough for anyones liking.  Bob franticly tried to climb up the side of the house, but all he succeeded in doing, was ripping up his knees on the rough edges of the shingles.  

Betty, in all her glorious glory, was still flailing around on the ground.  

Somehow, though still hooked by his armpit, from a shoulder that should have been in massive pain, there was no pain.  Given this current, and apparently unavoidable, visual breach – pain failed to fully register.  Of course, he was now contending with the new burning sensation… a mental image that was searing its imprint.  (Proof positive that so many situations in life are all about the focus.)

The ladder had stopped at the adjacent window, leaning precariously against the sill lip.  With new found strength, Bob strained his legs attempting to hook it with his feet and drag it back to a functional stance.  

Betty was thankfully now uprighted and re-organized. Her loosely ponytailed hair was disheveled.  Dirt and grass, her new adornments.  Other than that – and the visible flush of embarrassment – she was no worse for wear.  She pushed the ladder back into position – with her new found strength – and held it as Bob climbed in the house.  Hitting the floor with a thud, and without a care for the table and lamp he just knocked over, he headed for the front door.  

Four words was all Bob spoke as he passed her on the porch, “Hide. A. Key. Outside!”  Betty seemed to have lost her desire to ‘talk.’

Rounding the gate, he couldn’t help but shake his head in disbelief.  Only moments ago he was happily cooking in his cozy kitchen…  He rubbed his still burning eyes, trying to rid the vision now burnt into his head… only to look up and see smoke billowing out his window.

So what have we learned?  Well… Always, remember life can turn on a dime… or a snow bank… or a grassy knoll.  A full day of Sunday cooking isn’t really a bad gig – hey, it could always be worse.  And people, people, peoplePlease… Underwear!  Be prepared for those ass-over-tea-kettle moments – as if one could ever predict when their world is going to be turned upside-down. 

{FYI – ‘Bob’ and ‘Betty’ still live next door to each other.  Neither decided to move after this event.  Though ‘Bob’ bought curtains for his kitchen, and ‘Betty’ hid a key – somewhere.  ‘Bob’ seems to have regained full vision, and yes, he did have that surgery.  No update on whether ‘Betty’ has embraced underwear…}


Leave a reply