Wednesday, April 23, 2008


So before I get to the blistered, black toenailed recap of the actual marathon, let's talk about how it almost didn't happen. On Saturday morning, my footie pj'ed feet touched the floor at 5:30 a.m., that pre-dawn transitional time between paid programming and regular television. I still had to pack, use my Rembrandt 2-Hour Teeth Whitening Kit ('cause I assumed my lips would be curled back into a Cujo-like snarl the entire time and hoped the spectators would focus less on my crazed expression and more on my gleaming white incisors*) and make time to get to Walgreens to refill my birth control since I fully expected the race to make me its bitch.

I dragged Pigpen out of bed too, jarring him from his customary sleeping position--resting his little docked tail on the corner of the pillow closest to my face--and clumsily clipped his leash on, both of us startled by the unfamiliar sound of a newspaper thwacking against a door down the hall. I pocketed my keys and a crap sack, and tried to open the door. When I grabbed the turny part of the lock (Yes, the turny part...) it turned all the way around, spinning in a helpless circle without budging the deadbolt. Now, I'm not the most mechanically inclined person--my familiarity with tools doesn't extend past my former boyfriend or that Foo Fighters song--but this seemed bad.

The lock was a one-sided deadbolt I'd had installed shortly after the manager of my building led a parade of potential renters into my living room while I was sprawled on the sofa spraying EZ Cheez directly into my mouth and trying to hold back my tears during a particularly moving rerun of Miami Ink.** That said, there was no way to access it from the outside. With one turn to the left, I had managed to lock myself IN.

My apartment (aka the J-Money Pit) is on the second floor of the building, with a balcony that faces one of Slappytown's busiest streets. There's no other way in or out and the front door has security hinges, so taking the door down wasn't an option either. The entire situation sounded like a pitch for "McGuyver: The H.O.A. Years" or a puzzle from an 80's-era Sierra game, one solved by typing commands like "Search for secret passage" or "Lick broken lock".***

I didn't know what to do, other than step away from the wall and yell for the Kool-Aid man. When he didn't show, I selected several locksmiths from the yellow pages, calling the ones who used the biggest font and the phrase "24 hours", but got voicemail for all of them. Apparently those 24 hours are non-sequential. I left a message for my first choice--a selection based solely on the unauthorized use of Looney Tunes in his ad--and he didn't call me back until yesterday, proving that he's neither 'Speedy' nor concerned that I could be an episode of Forensic Files by now.

Next, I rang my friend Tommy, the only other person I thought would be awake before 6 on a weekend. When he finished laughing, he encouraged me to dial the building maintenance emergency line, even though it's out of state. An inappropriately cheery woman answered on the third ring, made note of my "emergency" (I made sure to mention that I had a puppy who really needed to pee and also I was out of Diet Coke) and promised that someone would be in touch, hopefully before I get a cassette from Jigsaw telling me that there's a key behind my eye.

Twenty minutes passed before a sleepy-sounding man named David dialed me back. "So you're locked out?" he asked. "Um, no," I replied. "Actually I'm locked in." He sighed deeply, like I was giving him a setup he should stumble into, like when I used to call the staff at Rick's Fried Chicken and ask the waitresses if they had chicken breasts. When they said they did, I would shout "I bet you look like hell in a bathing suit!" cackle madly and hang up, thankful that caller ID hadn't been invented yet.****

When I finished summarizing my sitch, I heard David take a sip of either coffee or hemlock, clear his throat and say "Well shit". After convincing him that yes, I was sure I didn't have a chimney and no, I don't have a live-in caregiver, he said he was going to get in touch with Mr. Handyman. When I told him that I'd watched that movie on Spectravision, he promptly hung up.

I was halfway through whitening tray 2 of 4 when Mr. Handyman called to say that two of his handy-henchmen--along with a 40 foot ladder-would be arriving below my balcony within the hour. Meanwhile, Tommy called back, telling me to come out to my balcony. I looked down and he's standing there in full climbing gear--harness, shoes, a coil of rope-- and asking if I think I can work the rope while he scales the building like a bleary-eyed, khaki-clad Sherpa. A small crowd had started to assemble across the street, attracted either by my sparkling smile, Pigpen's incessant barking, or the sight of a small man wearing rubber shoes trying to throw a grappling hook into my hands.

"Do you have upstairs neighbors?" Tommy shouted.

"I think so. They move their furniture in the middle of the night and cook either curry or human flesh all the time. Also I think one of them plays the synthesizer".

"Not important," he said. "Think they'd let me rappel down onto your balcony instead?"

"I don't know. I saw them carrying a taxidermied animal head into the elevator last night."


As if on cue, a decal-covered Dodge truck pulled onto the sidewalk. Two men wearing Mr. Handyman hats stepped out. The taller of the two looked at me, looked at Tommy and said "Guess we're in the right place."

Things moved quickly from there. The two Handymen climbed the ladder into my living room--trailed by a still-harnessed Tommy--and within ten minutes the front door was open. Another two passed before a pee-filled Pigpen bounded into the hall, promptly soiling the carpet. I thanked the H-Men profusely, tore up the will I'd been writing, and watched as they stepped over the stain into the elevator. Neither of them noticed my teeth.

* This is also why I bleach my teeth before first dates.
** Miami Ink is one of my faves because I love personal stories, artistic ability, and the threat of hepatitis.
*** We used to play "King's Quest" all the time in school until a kid named Judson got everyone banned from the computer lab for repeatedly commanding the main character to touch himself.
**** This was hilarious, circa third grade. Also in the prankery repertoire? Calling the bowling alley to ask how much their balls weighed.


Kaeti said...

Your upstairs neighbors sound fun.

L said...

OMG! You are so hilarious! I just found your blog, you crack me up!

dmbmeg said...

1) I am glad you got out
2) You know people with repelling equipment?

Jesus I gotta get out of New York.

d said...

is this one of those paided-to-blog agreements where you write endearing reviews of a business and get cash, sex, or fritos in return? did The Handymen put you up to this?

i thought so.

Ben said...

Without exaggerating, this is definitely the greatest thing ever written over the course of humanity.

Please continue to dazzle me with your obscure (but amazing) references and your trippy stream of consciousness.

In return, I will obsess over you while collecting stray strands of your hair to make a J-Money doll.

P.S. As you are very far away, would you mind mailing me stray strands of your hair? Don't worry, they're not for some crazy doll or anything...

Hot Librarian said...

Duuuuuuuuude. That is severe. Stuff like that NEVER happened in 102A. Although the large flannel clad cat did lock me OUT once because he was in such a deep depression- (and French film-) laden sleep he didn't hear me knocking... and then banging... and then screaming "let me in you lazy m-f'er" at the top of my lungs. You know who did hear me, though? THE REST OF THE BUILDING.

Regardless, your story is WAY better (and could only happen to you)

Oh, and because my prior comment didn't capture it - I am SO EFFING IMPRESSED at your marathon time. You are super awesome. I am going to start running to more than just the car because you inspire me.

J-Money said...

kaeti: Yes, they're delightful, for people who may or may not have killed Snuffleupagus.

l: Hooray! Please come back.

dmbmeg: Tommy basically has an REI in his spare room. Call him if you ever get trapped.

d: The Handymen did not although perhaps I should've negotiated some Fritos as part of the deal.

ben: I'll bring some hair strands when our dogs get together for a playdate.

hot librarian: I miss 102A. It was on the bottom floor and easy to climb in and out the windows. I do not miss the flannel clad cat. Finally, running to the car was the basis for my training...
/end inside jokes

mindy said...

You actually have a friend who gets up before 6am on the weekends? What is wrong with him? That doesn't make any sense at all.

My Life My Life My Life said...

You are hiliarious! Miami Ink situation I know too well except mine was with Ghost Whisperer and the girl was crossing into the light. My 14 year old was like 'MOM! Are you reeeeeeeeeeallly crying.'....I wish I could be a fly on the wall of your life...well, I guess I am since I read your blog.

Perfectly Shelly said...

Doesn't EVERYONE have EZCheeze, tearfilled days? Or marshmallow creme days? Or entire cans of pringles dipped in various chef-boy-r-dee selections days?

My dad owns a nursing home and some of the ladies had a pajama party. They prank called him asking if his 'refrigerator was running'. He forgot that they were going to 'spontaneously' call him and he hung up on them.

I can only hope when I need a nursing home I can be in my PJ's, eating junk food, prank calling people and giggling.

Mickey said...

I hope he was up before 6 to go climbing. That's usually the only thing that gets me out of bed that early.

Also, I'm disappointed he didn't get his chance to climb the building. I'm sure he is too.

Ashley said...

i need to find friends who own repelling equpiment. it could come in handy potentially.

i would have to say this story is probably one of my favorites ever.

J-Money said...

mindy: He's a runner too. We're not wired right.

my life x3: Ghost Whisperer is a show I purposely avoided because I just KNEW I would get sucked in and end up DVRing every single episode...

perfectly shelly: Marshmallow creme? YES. Also, you are officially invited to my nursing home dance party. Please RSVP by 2060.

mickey: Yeah, he was definitely tempted even when the ladder was there and one of the Mr. Handymen was babbling on about "liability issues". I think he secretly wants me to get locked in again.

ashley: Again, I'll be glad to give you Tommy's number...

OI said...

I prefer "Deadliest Catch". Who knew that the stuff slung at Libby Hill by gruff, cigarette chewing mullet-wearers was caught by gruff, cigarette chewing mullet-wearers. And they say the Illuminati isn't real. Just sayin'.

STP said...

I thought climbing and repelling was just something you did at the sporting goods store to kill time.

Tara Shleser said...

I can't believe you brought out 2 SSHS references.

1. Rick's Fried Chicken, I swear that greasy shit was made by JHC himself (and I'm Jewish)!

2. Judson, did you know he had a baby. Well, technically, Kristen had a baby. Could you imagine Jud prego with swollen feet? HA!

rs27 said...

Hold on (furiously writing)..hell in a bathing suit.

Got it.

Thats going to kill! As for the Kool Aid Man, he doesn't just bust in when you call for him. You have to be playing video games or Twister, then he comes in and gives you delicious refreshments.

Vanilla said...

Phenomenal post J-Money, and I’m sure your teeth look fantastic.

Joy @ Big Time Fancy said...

1) KING'S QUEST! Holy hell I loved those games.

2) On my 21st birthday, I got locked in a bathroom at a shitty Mexican restaurant. The lock just...stuck. And wouldn't UNstick. I am WASTED and hurling myself at this door and one of the little worker guys finally gets a key to let me out and I inform him, in spanish, that I am 21 today, and that I am a fucking drunk. And then they gave me free food! Hooray!

Rachel said...

Wow! That is a huge ordeal! How did that happen? I can't imagine. Glad you got out though and were able to make it to the marathon.

Laura said...

I hated King's Quest. I could never figure the damn thing out. I preferred the Dr. Brain and the Incredible Machine games, where you had to solve puzzles but at least you knew what you were supposed to be doing rather than just wander around.

Good job puzzling your way out of your apartment!

Hot Librarian said...

I confess that I like to comment with lots of inside jokes so your readers know that I'm like your supercool IRL friend.

Someday readers, you might be as lucky as me to know the greatness that is J-Money in person.

Katelin said...

Haha oh man that's so funny. At least you can laugh about it now.

The Wonk said...

Do we live in the same building? Your neighbors sound eerily familiar...

PS I am a new reader and I love it!

Dexter Colt said...

A simple door chain might have been a better choice. I'm just saying. No hate. I loved the comedy of your situation. I laugh WITH you...

And, Tommy is hardcore. I have climbing gear, but no grappling hook. Is Tommy a ninja?

J-Money said...

oi: Mmmmm libbyhillseafood mmmmm...

stp: No, to kill time you get on the cross country ski simulator or try to see how much weight you can move on the universal machine. Bonus points for being asked to leave.

tara: A baby? Whaaaat?!?!

rs27: I'm going out today to purchase Twister, in case this situation would happen again. And there's a very good chance that it will.

vanilla: Thank you. This is why you're one of my favorites.

joy: FTW!

rachel: I was determined to get to the marathon, even if I had to use my whitened teeth to chew through the door.

laura: Oh, I wasn't ever very good at the game... I just remember having to play it and it was way better than that basic programming "10 Home" shit.

hot librarian: I miss you! Also, for the record, you are the one who first called me J-Money.

katelin: Yes, I will continue to laugh. Laugh, and sweep up sawdust.

the wonk: Sweet! Keep coming back. I promise more ridiculous stories.

dexter: I couldn't use a chain. The moldings around the doors are chunky & decorative, so the chain wouldn't latch as securely as, say, a broken deadbolt. And yes, Tommy could be a ninja for a number of reasons. He's probably standing behind you right now.

surviving myself said...

my friends would have let me rot. He is nicer than about 99% of the people I hang out with.

Vanessa said...

First visit here, but OMG, that is hysterical. Not in real life I'm sure, but I slurp sprayed my coffee reading this!

Craig said...

I'm just glad to see you're writing this down. Also, how you could be maddening to deal with if people didn't know you.

Alya said...

OMG thank God you got out! It would have been awful if you were stuck in the apartment after all that training!

nancypearlwannabe said...

I really wish the Kool-Aid man had come smashing through your door yelling "Oooooh yeaaaaah!" before spilling fruit punch all over your carpet.

Kristen said...

I'm new to your blog and when I read the stuff about Pigpen in bed I thought you were talking about your husband and then I realized it was your dog.

I call my husband Pigpen and I was so excited that you do too.

But you don't.

Robbie said...

Something similar happened to my mum once.
She has two front doors (they just had the one then decided to build a glassy mini porch in front of it, anyway...) One day my mum stepped through th first door closing it behind her, went to step through the second door, realised she had forgotten her keys, turned around to go back in to the house and realised she had locked that door and had no way of getting out.
She had to wait there in a space just about wide enough to stand in, till her partner came home.

db said...

I heart your writing. And your dog.
(And in case it is too cutesy or stupid and uncool to say heart instead of love or like, see below.)

I like your writing. And your dog.

Brenda said...

I believe I was present during said phone calls. I also recall asking for Wung and Wong at Young Chow's. Good times!