The Legend of the Pink Pantser

Three weeks of great sleep and a quiet apartment, that was the way I was hearing the plan. It sounded like a great idea – Momma and the boy in Alabama working on our post-military business plans and operations and visiting family while I did the bachelor thing from the comfortable confines of our semi-sub-near-luxury apartment near Baltimore.

What could go wrong?

I was 10,000 feet above Maryland when I found out the first, of many, answers to that question.

I found myself sitting there wedged between a large, smelly man who wouldn’t stop telling the guy across the aisle about his horrendous medical problems (never mentioning his most obvious one, which was severe body odor) and a stingy young lady with window seat. Turns out she did not care for other people looking out of her window. Each time I tried to sneak a peek at the terrain below, she would cover her crossed legs with her sweater and cut her eyes at me as if I was checking her out.

“Ten years ago, maybe, sweetheart,” I thought to myself. “Nowadays I’m way more interested in what’s under my feet, or in this case, under this plane, than what’s under that sweater.”

I did get a look though, and realized the whole state of Maryland, much like a map of the U.S. that a first-grade teacher gives you to fill in the names, was totally white, and blank. I thought I could make out the “D” in “Maryland” for a second, but it turned out the young lady was just switching up her the way her legs were crossed.

“Snow,” I sighed to the smelly, dying man to my left who, from the gaudy decorations all over everything he owned, had to be the biggest Texas A&M fan on the planet. “It was 72 degrees in Alabama before I left.”

“I’m from Texas,” He said, gruffly. That’s it. That’s all he said. As if being from Texas meant that’s all he had to say. Guess I should have told him I had high blood pressure if I wanted a conversation.

Then it hit me. My coat. The only coat I own was somewhere between Huntsville and Crossville, Alabama traveling at around 60 mph, while I was in Maryland falling out of the sky at somewhere around 300 mph. Only in terms of altitude was I getting any closer to my coat, and I was landing at what looked like the North Pole, minus the candy-cane pole.

Fortunately I had already arranged travel from the airport to home, so all I had to do was get off the plane and run. I left all of my luggage in Alabama, meaning the pair of jeans I had on and a closet full of tee-shirts were all of the civilian outerwear I would have for three weeks. It was a risk worth taking, as I hate checking bags and claiming luggage.

The snow, of course, snarled traffic in one of the nation’s worst traffic areas, and I stood outside the airport waiting for my ride for more than half an hour. Fortunately, the temperature had warmed to a balmy 23 degrees, up from a historic BWI Airport low of 3 degrees only hours earlier.

Thus began my three-week bachelorhood.

They say you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone. It’s fairly cliché, and I suppose that is because it is so true. I never realized all of the conveniences my wife brings to my life. Not just in terms of keeping things neat and tidy, which she does, but in terms of keeping me from screwing up almost everything I touch by constantly reminding me how to do things or not to forget something.

Even having her car around is convenient, and would have been even more so on my first morning back, when my car had a dead battery from sitting in freezing temps for a week. No worries though,  a friendly neighbor (roughly the 30th one to pass by) stopped to check on the freezing Navy guy holding jumper cables and helped me get my car started. She also let me use her windshield scraper to remove four inches of ice. My scraper was in Alabama, enjoying 65 degree temps and sunny skies.  Did I mention I ALSO don’t have the proper coat for my uniform?

I don’t suppose, as another example of her convenient nature, that my wife ever would have allowed me to leave the key in the mailbox out in our breezeway for two whole days. Nope, wouldn’t happen with her here.

I know for certain that she wouldn’t let me forget it’s not a good idea to have too much bourbon on a work night. This is a good time to point out how nice it is to have someone to bring you water and ibuprofen to the bed at 4 a.m.

After ten days of calamity, Mother Nature decided it was time to turn up the heat, or maybe turn up the cold in this case. What had been a forecast for a dusting of snow overnight turned into ten inches of dust all over everything, and work was cancelled for the day. Not as joyous as you would imagine, as there was no food in the apartment, unless you count expired yogurt, and frankly it’s also pretty boring without Momma and the boy around.

A text message to my phone at 4:30 a.m. let me know I could sleep in, yet it woke me up in the process, so I suppose you call that a win/lose situation. While reading the message I also discovered the battery was nearly dead on my phone.

Hmmmm…. I went somewhere in the car yesterday….. did I leave the charging cable in the …. DAMN!

snow4

Somewhere out there, in the frozen tundra, in a car covered with nearly a foot of snow (okay, six inches, but whatever), is the cable I need to charge the phone. Thirty years ago, the phone never left the wall. Not a bad thing to consider bringing back, in my opinion. Making matters worse, the ONLY pair of jeans and ALL of the long-sleeved shirts I have in Maryland were in the washing machine, wet. I decided after ten days of wear, I’d better wash them before someone mistook me for one of those zombies on that show everyone watches. (Then again, do zombies smell bad?)

That’s just another thing that would never happen with Momma around. She would never allow me to leave clothes in the washer all night.

To recap: Need phone charging cable, have no pants.

I got up, looked around the room and found her pink kitty-cat pajama bottoms. I checked over my shoulder to make sure no one was looking, even though I was in the apartment alone, and grabbed the PJs.

After donning pink pants and a tee-shirt from what I think was the clean pile, I strapped on my new running shoes. Yes, my “wear in the mud and snow” shoes are with my coat and windshield scraper.

No big deal, the car is parked close, I’ll just run out there, open the car, grab the cord, scoot back in. Thirty seconds, tops.

snow5

They say timing is everything. Another one of those cliché statements that just happens to be true. In this case, the coordination of the snow-plow truck and the guy with the snow-blower couldn’t have been more perfect. Since they are bound to be the most entertaining thing the geriatrics in my building will see all day, every balcony was filled with wrinkles, thick glasses and hot coffee just in time for the show.

Enter stage left – Guy in pink pajamas and a Popeye tee-shirt who, for some unknown reason, no longer has a wife living with him and who never wears a coat, even in blizzard conditions. They looked amused.

snow2

I tried to smile and wave at the first-floor audience, but the smile was met with disgust. I quickly went for the door handle, thinking that if I got back inside fast enough, maybe they would forget they even saw me before time for their noon naps.

You know how car doors will stick in the winter? No? Well, they will. They will stick and you will yank and then they will suddenly fly open and you will slip backward, sometimes in pink pants, into the car owned by your geriatric neighbor, and get covered in snow. It CAN happen to you.

A neighbor took a sip of his coffee, put it on the table, and adjusted his Depends undergarment. Without so much as a grin, he shook his head and went inside.

Oh well, that’s the life of a swinging bachelor with a quiet apartment and all the sleep he can stand. I have it all: Mac desktop, Windows laptop, iPhone, iPad, cable TV, spoiled yogurt and, for the moment, electricity, although the way this week is going I’m not planning any long-term projects that require alternating current.

The crazy part of it all is the charging cable. When Momma is home, I always use hers and leave mine in the car. I hate to sound cliché, but you never know what you’ve got, ‘till its riding around in a blue car, somewhere in Alabama.snow3

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