When I was small, I was by all measures, a pretty big pansy. In the sense that I was frail, thin and weak, the only thing that stood in my way from the official categorization was the fact that I was unfortunately not a plant, but in fact a (poor excuse for) a human girl. My peers sensed this penchant for annual flower-like quality, and did what most children are apt to do with flowers: trample on them with little regard for their welfare or survival.
My parents had similar regard for me, and made little accommodation. One inclident that sticks out in my mind as a particular affront to this quality was my indoctrination to the sad lifestyle of the latchkey kid. For most of my childhood, we lived in such a rural area that we never locked our doors. In fact, it wasn’t until one of my father’s bizarre fantasies of being persecuted by our neighbors, that he actually installed a lock on the rear storm door to the house.
I was entering the seventh grade and our family had exhausted the local babysitting populous of our neighborhood. My parents figured that they could get away with what would today be defined legally as reckless endangerment of me and my siblings by leaving us unsupervised as long as no one left the house. At that time, my father spent copious amounts of time in the basement, playing a dice war game by himself, and presumably drinking himself stupid.
One night, he swore he heard someone trying to open the cellar doors, which would be a tremendously foolish way to break in. The cellar doors were the kind that allowed access to the basement through about a ten foot drop onto cold cement. A burglar or otherwise crazy person would likely plummet to an untimely demise or at least surprising injury if he chose this method of entry.
Still, my father’s paranoia could not be assuaged and so the storm door was secured by a new lock. The basement doors, however, would remain openable, but I digress. The problem was that the new lock was very hard to turn, and the first day I tried to open it, I couldn’t. Because my brothers went to friends’ houses to play after school, I was often left with the unenviable task of trying to find a way to break into my own house.
I tried lots of different options, pushing the heavy sliding glass doors open, crawling in through my own bedroom window, but nothing worked out as well as simply traversing the newly chopped stack of firewood filling the empty space just beneath the cellar doors. Whatever paranoia my crackpot father concocted surrounding what was likely an wind-assisted alcohol induced hallucination was now circumventable by using the imagined perpetrator’s own method for entry.
I made this work for weeks before my method was discovered. Eventually, we gave up on locking the doors, realizing if someone wanted to get in, they’d find a way, as I did. Instead my parents went with a more dangerous policy of leaving loaded weapons out in case the unthinkable did happen. I’d like to say that we skated without injury on this equally reckless decision, but that would be a lie. But at least I didn’t have to risk breaking my neck climbing down a precarious wood pile alone every day. It’s the little things.