“Don’t you have a meeting in Seattle tomorrow?” asked Richard after dinner.
“Yeah, I was thinking I’d pack a bag for the gym tonight and leave here around 4:30 to catch the ferry,” I said washing the last dish.
“Have you set the alarm?” asked Richard drying a pan.
“As soon as I get my bag packed,” I said heading toward our bedroom.
Pulling the gym bag from the closet I noticed two orange cats sitting behind me. “Are you here to supervise?” I asked putting the bag on the bed. Wicket and Sadie leaped onto the bed to inspect the bag.
“So I have a meeting tomorrow, what do you think I should wear?”
The cats stared at me.
“Got it, business attire. What was I thinking?” I said putting a blouse and slacks into the gym bag. Fishing my dress shoes out of the back of the closet, I put them into the bag.
The telephone rang.
“Fannie, it’s your mom.”
Ten minutes later I found Sadie curled up inside the bag and Wicket laying on a handle. Chasing them from the bag, I discovered the reason for lint rollers.
“Of all the places you could have chosen to sleep, why did you have to pick this one?” I asked pulling everything out and removing the cat hair.
The telephone rang.
“Fannie, it’s Eleanor for you.”
Walking back into the bedroom fifteen minutes later, I found the cats nested in my clothing on the bed.
“Okay you two, you’re out of here,” I said chasing them from the room. Recreational dust bunnies formed on the tape as I ran the roller over my slacks.
While repacking the bag, the telephone rang again.
“Fannie, it’s your aunt.”
“Richard, can you put this bag into my car for me, I don’t want to forget it,” I said taking the phone from him.
“Sure thing,” he said carrying the bag to my car.
After hanging up with Aunt Verla, I walked back into the bedroom. Time to prep for the rest of the day. Setting out my swim gear and a pair of sweats to wear on the ferry, I took one last look around.
There on the dresser sat my presentation under a pair of Richard’s jeans. Scooping up the file and grabbing my brief case I made one last trip to the car.
The clock read 10:45 p.m. Setting the alarm for 3:30 a.m. meant time for bed. The cats already asleep at the foot of the bed. Richard climbed in pulling back the covers on my side of the bed.
“Tell me again what time do you have to leave tomorrow?” asked Richard.
“4:30 if I’m going to make the early ferry.”
“Have you got everything ready for tomorrow?”
“Yeah, I just need to pack my lunch before I leave tomorrow morning, I am too tired to do it now,” I said crawling into bed.
Sleep hit us like a lead balloon. I opened my eyes a few moments later not knowing what woke me up. The clock read 4:21 a.m. Jumping out of bed, I threw on my swimwear and ate a hurried breakfast.
“Fannie, what about lunch?” he asked holding up my purse as I rushed toward the car.
“I’ll pick something up at the store when I get to Seattle,” I said giving him a quick peck on the cheek, taking the purse.
The dash clock read 4:31 a.m. Relief flowed through me. Few people drive at this hour of the morning.
Driving down the road to the ferry terminal, a long line of tail lights, normally seen later in the morning, stood between me and the ferry.
“I’m sorry ma’am, the 4:45 is full, but there is room available on the 5:15. Please pull forward into lane 12.”
A ferry worker directed me to the front of the line for the next boat.
Cars loaded onto the 4:45 ferry. A 1965 Mustang, the last car to board the ferry, sat motionless at the end of lane 11. The driver smacking his steering wheel and mouthing colorful metaphors, while his starter made clicking noises and nothing else.
A ferry worker tapped on my window. “We can get you onto this boat if you want to go,” he said.
My day looking up, I filled the last space on the ferry.
Arriving at the gym, I hauled my bag into the locker room. Grabbing my goggles and swim cap from the top compartment, I noticed my bag seemed empty. Opening the main compartment I discovered my towel and underwear did not make it back into the bag last night and Richard’s shirt took the place of my blouse.
So much for swimming. Walking up to the front desk, I explained my predicament to Jim, the desk attendant.
“Fannie, it sounds like you are having quite a day. How about this, I’ll waive the towel fee today, just be sure to give me the dirty towel back,” he said smiling, handing me the towel.
“Well, at least my day’s better than the guy in the Mustang this morning.”
After a quick shower I donned my swimsuit and Richard’s dress shirt.
“Fannie, I have no idea what look you’re trying to achieve, but that isn’t it,” said Leslie, my swim partner, laughing. “Here, I have a spare pair of panty hose,” she said handing them to me, “tie them around your chest as a make shift bra and you won’t look quite so. . .I’m not even sure what to call it.”
“Thank you,” I said taking the hosiery. “I’ve never been so self-conscious in my life and I have a big meeting this morning,” I said tying the panty hose on over my swimsuit. “How does that look?”
“Well, at least you no longer look like you’re swimming free style,” she said with a grin.
After the meeting, I switch to my running shoes for the drive home before calling Richard.
“Richard, I’m on my way home,” I said sighing. “The meeting went fine.”
“So did you forget something?”
“Funny you should ask. I take it you found a few surprises this morning?”
“Oh yeah, I thought you might be trying to tell me something when I found your blouse and underwear where my shirt should have been,” he said laughing. “Then I imagined what you must look like. I’ve been enjoying the image all day.”
“Very funny. I’ll say this though, I can’t imagine what it must have been like before the invention of the bra.”
“I don’t want to imagine. On a different note, I invited George and Bunny over for barbecue this evening. Can you pick up some steaks, salads and a couple bottles of wine on your way home?”
“Sure, see you soon.”
Pulling into the grocery store parking lot, I opened the car door and put my foot into something. Looking at my foot, the top of my shoe and bottom of my foot rested on the pavement, the sole of my shoe sat on the floor of the car. Reaching between my legs for the bottom of my shoe, my pants decided they couldn’t take it anymore, splitting the difference up the middle.
Looking around for witnesses, the parking lot appeared deserted. Untucking Richard’s shirt covered any evidence my pants abandoned me. Changing back into heels for the grocery store felt like overkill, so I walked with a limp into the supermarket.
Walking around the grocery store felt like participating in the naked dream, except I wore the emperor’s cast offs. To add insult to injury, by the time I reached the checkout counter, the woman’s curse appeared two full days ahead of schedule.
Arriving home I grabbed the groceries from the car leaving a trail of blue bits from the sole of my defunct shoe behind me.
Richard opened the door to greet me. Laughing, he said, “you look a mess.”
I threw the sole of my shoe at him. Handing him the bag of groceries, I headed toward the bedroom.
Looking into the bag Richard said, “hey Fannie, you forgot the wine.”
“Richard, I need to get real clothes on first, then I will deal with the wine.”
“Do you want me to drive you?”
“Yes. The way my luck has been going today I’m afraid I will get into a car accident. By the way, I need a new pair of gym shoes for tomorrow.”
We decided to divide and conquer. Richard entered the grocery store and I visited the sporting goods store next door.
An employee manned the cash register. The rest of the store stood vacant.
“Can you help me with a pair of shoes?” I asked her.
“I’m sorry ma’am, the rest of the employees are in a meeting and will be out in just a few minutes. I can’t leave the cash register unattended.”
Within five minutes of browsing the entire shoe section, 25 additional people entered the store. Two minutes later Richard joined me after filling the back seat of the car with groceries. One minute later four employees emerged from the back of the store.
“Do you want to come back later?” asked Richard looking at the crowd.
“Richard, I am not leaving without those shoes. Whatever onus I’m operating under today, I’m not going to let it get the better of me.”
Forty-five minutes later we carried the new shoes out to the car.
Once home, I grabbed a couple of the bags and walked toward the door as the bottom of one bag let go. Glass jars filled with stuffed olives and baby corn spilled to the ground and rolled under the car.
Richard’s luck must have rubbed off on me a little, because none of the contents from the bag broke. Picking it up, we entered into the house.
“Fannie, are you feeling up to helping me set up the back yard?” asked Richard trying to gauge the safety of the situation.
“Why not, what else could go wrong?”
We placed the picnic table in the middle of the yard with an umbrella.
“Richard, I’ll fill the citronella torches if you can get more propane from the garage.”
Richard returned with the propane tank as I finished filling the last torch.
The phone rang.
“I’ll get it,” I said, “it’s probably for me anyway.”
“Hey Fannie, it’s Caleb, is Richard home?”
“Sure, Caleb. He’s in the back yard let me get him for you.” Stretching the phone toward the door, I leaned out and said, “Richard, it’s your brother, Caleb, on the phone for you.”
“I’ll be right there. Can you finish hooking up the propane for me?”
Looking at my watch I realized George and Bunny would arrive in twenty minutes. Time to warm up the barbecue.
I could hear propane flow from the tank. Pressing the starter button, no flame appeared. Turning off the propane, I check the connection. It maintained a solid seal. Turning on the propane I pressed the starter button. The same result.
As they say the third time is the charm. Richard returned from his phone call as I reset the barbecue.
“Is everything okay?” asked Richard.
“No, I can’t get the barbecue started. Would you watch me and let me know if I’m doing something wrong.”
The propane made the proper sounds coming from the tank. I pressed the starter button igniting the propane. A three-foot blue flame shot from the barbecue straight toward Richard.
Making a guttural noise he jumped out of the way. The flame missed him by that much. He laughed so hard the wall saved him from falling over.
“Oh my god, are you all right?” I asked panic stricken.
Gasping for air he nodded.
Recovering somewhat, he pointed at a small swarm of mosquitoes headed in our direction.
“If I get the wine and the steaks, do you think you can light the torches without setting the house on fire?”
“There’s always hope,” I said smiling. “Would you hand me the lighter?”
I lit the first torch and moved onto the next one not noticing some of the oil spilled down the side of the torch and the flame followed it.
Richard rushed out of the house. Grabbing the hose he put out the excess flame.
Handing Richard the lighter, I hid in the living room until our company arrived.
“Fannie darling, you look awful, what happened?” asked George after greeting me with a hug.
“I’ve had one of those ‘one bag ugly’ days, George.”
“Now I’ve heard of ‘one bag ugly’ referring to people but never to a day,” he said scratching his head, “what constitutes a ‘one bag ugly’ day?”
Over a glass of wine we relived the day.
“Honey, it sounds to me like it was a ‘Coyote Ugly’ day,” said Bunny.
“Bunny, if I had gotten into a car accident then I would have chewed my own arm off to get away from myself.”
“You know, darling, the roman philosopher Seneca once said, ‘luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’ The next time that kind of opportunity knocks, close the door,” said George laughing.
“Trust me George, I will,” I said raising my glass to him.