The house on Elm Street, where I battled a giant spider during a snow hurricane, was old, square and brown. It had a big front porch and was close to my daughter’s school and all the places we liked to hang out. We loved the inside, which had several sets of French doors leading to and from the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Upstairs there were three bedrooms and above that an attic I had no intention of exploring. The kitchen had a lovely bow window. The best thing about it was that, after years of renting, it was all ours.
The day of our move coincided with business travel for my husband. He stayed as long as he could but late in the afternoon of a beautiful, fall day, he loaded his suitcase and briefcase into the car, wished us luck, and left. I can’t even remember, now, where he was going, and back then I was fine with it, but back then, in that moment, I had no idea what was about to happen. Now, twenty years later, I’m feeling resentful just thinking about his cavalier departure.
I made the girls a snack and decided my next project would be getting the kitchen settled. It was hot so I thought I’d open up the bay window to bring in some fresh air. I started with the window on the left side. I unlocked it, gripped the top of the bottom window, and pushed it up. As I did that, the top window came crashing down because the ropes that allowed the windows to go up and down were broken. When the upper window crashed down, it caught my finger, which was now between the two windows. Not only did it hurt quite a lot, I couldn’t get it out.
This seemed ridiculous to me. There had to be a way to get my finger out. I used my free hand to pull over a chair. I found that if I stood on the chair and pressed against the glass of the upper window, I could alleviate the pressure on my finger, which was great, but then I had zero free hands, and I still couldn’t create enough space to pull out my finger. As dumb as I knew this looked, I was going to need help. Now, you might be thinking, “Why didn’t you just call your husband?”, to which I will answer, “It was 1991. In 1991, there was no way to reach a person traveling in a car. I know that some of you have never experienced such a world, but it’s true. Ask your parents.
I called my girls to help. The eldest climbed onto another chair to reach the phone on the wall and I coached her through the 911 call. In less than five minutes, two fire trucks and a police car, sirens screaming, turned onto Elm Street and stopped in front of our house. Two fire trucks seemed a little over the top but what do I know about window sash protocol? The neighbors ventured outside to see what was going on and immediately formed opinions, I’m sure, of the new people in the old brown house. I sensed it would take years to live them down. The girls, who up until this point had been fine but were now shaken and tearful, let in the firefighters, who were very good looking which temporarily distracted me from the excruciating pressure on my finger.
By the way, why are firefighters always so good looking? Is that a prerequisite for the job? I can see it now: “Alright, Joe, you’ve completed your training, now smile and strike a pose! Yeah, You’ll do. Next? Smile and strike a pose. Oh. Yeah. Sorry mate, you can’t be a fireman with those teeth. Have you considered the Coast Guard?”
I digress. Back to the story. The head fireman assessed the situation (I assumed he was the head fireman since he was the best looking) and decided the window needed to be taken apart because I was so firmly stuck that even he couldn’t free me.
One firetruck left, one police car left, and two firemen started deconstructing my broken window while I continued to stand on my chair, princess in peril-like, trying to look cute, as though my finger was not stuck in a window and my clothes were not dirty from a day of lugging boxes and my hair was not uncombed. My children stared at the firemen. The youngest, particularly, was transfixed, her huge blue eyes following every move. I made a note to watch her closely in case she tried to stow away on their truck.
Finally, the window came apart and my finger was free-a little mangled, but with no real damage. After a few days, it was as good as new. The firemen screwed the window parts back together, which was nice of them since, with my luck, I’d otherwise have had a raccoon climbing through that night. Then they left and we continued our unpacking. The whole episode lasted less than an hour but our new reputation as the neighborhood troublemakers lasted as long as we lived there.
Thanks to Jenny/Procrastinating Donkey for suggesting I tell this tale. Have you ever been good and stuck, physically or metaphorically? Do tell.