It was this solo girl’s idea of a perfect night out. Okay, so maybe I am a bit too far advanced past a certain age to be called a girl, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was a great evening. An Evening Under the Stars; out of doors, professional music, free admission. I was off work by four-thirty, with time for online research while dining on a greens salad topped with chicken tenders. There were even a few parking places left way out by the tennis courts when I arrived.
The Centennial Band was concluding the first piece while I found a comfortable space between families, couples and other solo folks. We settled in to be delighted by the usual Americana and Sousa fare offered at an outdoor concert in the park. When Centennial Band polished off the marches with a decided flourish, a local blue grass band filled the gap while the stage shuffled to make room for strings and added a few principals to form the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra.
Attired in a casual T-shirt and jeans, Maestro Gustafson conducted the orchestra through a gentle and pleasing repertoire. At the stroke of twilight, the concert was over – not too long and not too short. On second thought; perhaps an encore might have put the plural in the words, An Evening Under the Star(s). After a leisurely walk back to the car on a warm and mild August night, I began the drive home.
How is it that a concert never seems complete without ice cream after? On impulse, I took the drive-through at Burger King, the last possible chance for fast food. Surely, I could splurge one dollar to make the evening complete. “That will be 54 cents at the second window,” chirped the voice. Then began the challenge to consume soft serve faster than it melts while also negotiating 5 on the floor shifting.
I am constantly amazed at the clarity and brilliance of the stars as seen from my own driveway. I decided to finish my ice cream cone outside in the moon glow and starlight.
Meanwhile, I must remind you that I am a very conscientious, dependable, resourceful and prepared person. Yes, I carry a measuring tape in my purse, a drum key, two guitar picks and a P38 can opener in my wallet. I have kept a sleeping bag in my car ever since two stranded motorists froze to death in Denver in 1998. I like to travel off the beaten path – my tent also remains as cargo. You know; shelter in case of delay or breakdown. Depending on the season, either my hiking boots or walking shoes are stored in the car. I am acquainted with snow drifts and road hazards. Because I have had experience living at high elevation and commuting, my car stays well equipped with essentials. Why, just the other day someone commented, “you must have been a Girl Scout.” I take that as a compliment.
The rest of the story I balanced the sticky remainder of the ice cream cone in my left hand. Already the cream had soaked through the bottom of the cone. I unlatched the driver’s side door and shoved it with my elbow. With my right hand I removed the key from the ignition to stop the infernal beeping. Carefully thinking ahead, I reached my right hand under the steering wheel to pop the locks switch so I could grab my purse and jacket from the passenger side later. Drinking in the beauty of the moonlight and stars, I leaned against the side of the car and finished my ice cream. I wiped my sticky hands and sauntered to the opposite side of the car, lingering and star gazing. Sigh. “I’d better go on in.” I pulled the handle on the passenger side. It was locked. But, I specifically remembered UNlocking everything. I hurried to the driver’s side. Locked. The tailgate. Locked. Back door to the house. Locked. Front door of the house locked.
Picture this. At 9:30 p.m. I am standing in my yard in my dress shorts, tank top and casual shoes. I am locked out of my house because my house keys are locked in my car. No problem, I reassure myself. I can sleep outside. I have all survival essentials, blanket, two jackets, shelter…LOCKED in my car. I weigh my options. 9:30 is not an economical time to call a locksmith. Forget that. My phone is in the car.
I could break into my car. I could break into my house. I could walk two miles to my son’s house. But, I am supposed to be at work at 8:30 in the morning and my work clothes are in the house. Come to think of it, my walking shoes and my hiking boots are – wait for it – locked in the car.
A quick inventory of outside tools reveals a vintage metal garbage can, a Christmas tree stand and a storage tub full of abandoned boffers and miscellaneous camp-cooking gear. I was inside the house and dusting myself off within 10 minutes.
No longer do I fear the thieves, vagrants and pranksters. It is I who am a formidable danger – to myself.