keys, keys, keys

By Margie Bailey Rose


Rarely can I find a movie that interests my oldest son and me.  When one comes along we make an effort to juggle our schedules to see it together.  The free speech theme of the movie about Larry FlintÕs legal problems sounded like it might generate years of family discussion, and son's wife and child were in Oregon for the weekend, so we agreed on a time.  I picked him up at his house and we raced to the theatre, slightly late as usual.  We took the first parking place we saw, ran to the ticket window and on to our seats.  No need for the usual argument about sitting in the front for him or back for me– the only empty seats were in the front.


Parts of the movie were hard to watch, different for each of us, but it kept our attention throughout.  We left the theatre engrossed in conversation and I dug in my purse for my keys as we approached the car.  I checked all my pockets and son noticed I was no longer in the conversation.  Now at the car, I looked in the window, and there were the keys hanging from the ignition. After two hours of four-letter words I held my tongue but couldn't resist yanking the handle of the obviously locked door.  As son checked all the other doors and windows he noticed the engine was running.  I couldn't believe it.  It's nice to have such a quiet car– most of the time.  Panic really set in as I tried to see the gas gauge.  The angle was bad and I wasn't sure, but it looked near the E.


For whatever reason (I suspect to get out of paying for popcorn) my son chose not to bring his bag into the theater and slid it under the front seat.  So his keys were also locked in my car.  There wasn't anyone at my house or his so we walked to a phone booth and called my two youngest daughters to come rescue us.  No answer at either place.  Leaving a message would unnecessarily alarm them so it was back to our own resources and they were few– calling a locksmith, or running to my son's house where we would probably have to break in to look for stray keys to his van.  Never do I make the smartest choice under stress so off we ran; six-foot-five son with bad feet and overweight fifty-something mom. 


Over hill (Interstate-5) and across dale (Weyerhaeuser land) we ran and walked.  Every time my son complained about his feet or his back I shamed him with my age and taunted him to press on.  We stopped bickering and tried to look like we were just out for a stroll as we turned down his street disheveled and dripping sweat.  The house was well locked (as I've taught him well) and the hidden house key was missing from the nail, so he proceeded to take a window apart.  He got in, dirty and scratched, and searched for keys to his van.  He found keys to cars he hasn't owned for 20 years but none for his van.  As he feared all along, the only sets were in my car and with his wife in Oregon.  I reminded him that I had given him a key for my car (since I was forever locking myself out– not something I wanted to bring up at the moment.)   My extra key was in the bowl on the piano in his house, but that meant running back to the theater.  I offered to go alone and leave him in his cozy warm house, but tempted as he was, he changed his shoes, put on a warmer jacket and we set off together in the gathering darkness. 


It began to rain– the gentle, chilly, miserable rain (mist, some people say) that Seattle is so well known for.  It matched our mood and we did not bicker or even talk the whole way back.  I don't know what son was thinking but I was sure my car had run dry.  How would we get gas?  Why hadn't we brought a gas container from the house?  Why did I get out of bed? 


Exhausted and drenched we walked up to my car and got in.  It was still running with the gas gauge firmly on E.  I put it in gear and we drove home– still in silence.  I dared it to die.