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Locked out

You know those moments where it occurs to you that anyone observing your behavior would likely conclude that you're Certifiably Nuts? I had a bunch of those this afternoon. First I spent 45 minutes taking bunches of tiny steps on the grass in the backyard, and then I took a brief nap — in mid-December — on a lawnchair outside.

Yeah, yeah, OK, so I locked myself out of the bleeping house. It's been a while since I've done something really dumb, and I guess I was due.

I usually tend to be over-cautious about making sure I have keys on me and all, but today, when I took the keys, I didn't check that they were actually the right ones. (Naturally, they weren't.) Then, when I went to unlock the basement door, so as to leave access to a workman who might have arrived while I was out, I only unlocked the deadbolt. Did I try the outside knob before I pulled the door shut? Why, no. (But whoever heard of a lock that leaves the inside knob free and only locks up the outside knob? Argh.)

And so, I was out. It would be about three hours before anyone would come home; plenty of time for a walk in the woods and a good stroll around the garden. Ah, yes, the garden. That source of unending, interminable, insurmountable work, year in and year out. And rocks. Rocks may not grow on trees, but I'm pretty sure someone in Connecticut once thought they did, because there sure are a heck of a lot of them planted in the ground. But the joys of a garden in Connecticut don't end there. They also encompass Japanese beetles and ravenous deer and, wouldn't you know it, moles.

Do you know about moles? Let me tell you about moles. There are two archetypal forms of tragedy in our tedious, mundane existences. The first is that caused by sheer, mindblowing stupidity, like grabbing a set of keys, promptly locking yourself outside, and discovering that the keys in your pocket unlock not the house but the car, which you can't get into either because it's in the freaking garage, and you may as well have grabbed a busted, heavy, dangly, receiverless rotary telephone for all the good those keys're gonna do you, buster. And the second archetypal tragedy is that caused by moles.

While some events are tragic for their being so easily preventable (but, of course, unprevented), moles, you see, typify that more sinister, insidious form of tragedy: the unpreventable. There's nothing you can do about them, short of going ahead and preemptively eating your garden from the roots up yourself.

And, contrary to what you may or may not have heard, there exists no mole remedy. Chewing gum is supposed to poison them, you say? They go and sell it to the field mice. Those sonic repellant devices? If we brought out the flashing lights, they'd probably all have a disco party. And, being inaudible to humans, those sonic things don't even distract your ears from the moles' infernal chuckling as they munch on your legumes. Moles are an unstoppable force, the burrowing brethren of taxmen and the Grim Reaper.

So, finding myself outside and with some time on my hands, I let my feet do some work. The moles have excavated a regular lattice of tunnels under the lawn; and I set out to destroy it. A not insignficant task, mind you — the tunnels seemingly having been designed by some Daedelus mole intent on constructing a labyrinthian homage to the lamentable dearth of local predators — but one I was simply too bored to ignore.

And so, taking tidy, precise step upon step, upon step, I sent the heavens crashing down on the mole network, merging tunnel roof and floor with stamp of heel and roll of foot. I invented an entirely new dance on that lawn, a tribute, however fleeting, to long-forgot destructive yearnings and the mindless determination of youth. And as I danced I conceived countless devices of mole extraction (and retribution exaction), each less effective than the last but loads more fun. And I erased all the alternative traffic routes in Mole City.

I have some faint hope for a deep freeze that might somehow in one night, tonight, miraculously catch my eyeless, toothy enemy out, hardening the ground to his feeble clawings and locking him out of his house all winter. If there's any justice, the bastard'll have his fucking car keys in his pocket.

December 19, 2001 11:24 PM

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Copyright ©2001-2003 Matt Pfeffer

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