Tuesday, December 30, 2003

When Amanda and I were kids, my dad showed us how to make an “igloo.” We used a “sandcastle” method, making walls by packing snow into empty 1-gallon ice cream buckets, then turning them over and hoping the snow maintained the shape. We used to dig a pocket in one of the walls, put wrapped Twin Pops in it, call it “the freezer,” and store the popsicles for a total of maybe 6 minutes before eating them. One year, our dad let us spray the whole thing with water from the hose so the fort would last longer. I think we had gravelly ice mounds in the front yard until May that year.

When Stephen was a kid, he built a heavily fortified snow fort complete with an arsenal of snowballs. He lifted the thin sheet of ice out of the birdbath and stored his “ammunition” behind it. (Think: “In case of emergency, break glass.”) I’m not sure the fort ever came under fire, but he did shoot a kid in the foot with a not-so-pretend, but-not-real-either bow and arrow when he and his friends were getting chased/picked on by the Popular Crowd one Halloween. (Why did we call them the “Popular Crowd” when no one really liked them? I guess the “Everyone Secretly Wishes You Would Die or At Least Move Far Away” Crowd doesn’t have the same ring to it. Stephen went as Robin Hood that Halloween, by the way.)

2003 has been the Year of the Escape Hatch for me. I’ll wait here while everyone else catches up with the abrupt subject change- the relevance is back there with the birdbath ice/emergency glass. I’ve been trying to build in “escape hatches” wherever possible, so that the tools I need to enact Plan B are never too far from my reach.


After locking my keys in my running car at a lacrosse game last March, I have spare keys everywhere now. I have only had to shimmy up fire escape and crawl into my top-of-the-house apartment twice since I moved in last February. (This is not inaccurate. I had to do it last night, after I wrote that. It’s three times now.) After hemming a pair of trousers with a piece of gaffer’s tape, I have an over-the-back- of-the-seat- organizer with every possible amenity-sewing kit, quarters, breathe mints, tampons, Advil, bottle of water, Visine, AA batteries. I have an electronic “Now You Can Find It!” unit that summons my wallet, day planner, remote control. It used to summon my keys, too, but I permanently lost the set that had the microchip attached. (The irony, I know.) I am one of 5 Nerdy Americans who, (post-Blackout 2003) actually has the recommended, fully stocked emergency kit in a duffle bag, complete with provisions for the pets and updated records of their vaccinations. People, I have Cipro.

But my latest and greatest Escape Hatch *iiiiiis*- I bought a red wallet! Bright red. Fire Engine red. As you know, in addition to losing things, I spill things on myself. Consequently, almost everything I own right now is black. Black wallet. Black day planner. Black cell phone case, black checkbook cover. Black car. Looking into my black purse is like staring into an abyss. My wallet is so hard to see sometimes. Not anymore!

I went to Marshall’s and bought a trendy, bright red wallet on deep discount (somewhere- on the T, at her desk, in her apartment, my sister is smiling…) so it won’t sting too much when I inevitably lose it. I love you, red wallet. Now, let’s go photocopy everything in you so I know exactly what I have to cancel when you’re eventually, inevitably gone someday soon.

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