MODINE’S: PUSHING THE WRONG BUTTON

I am trapped in my mother-in-law’s garage.

It could happen to anybody. I knock at Ms. Larda’s front door and nobody answers. I see her garage door standing wide open so I go in that way, thinking maybe she’s in her kitchen, which is in the back, and can’t hear me. The door between the garage and kitchen is locked but there’s a little doorbell right there, so I press it.

Come to find out, this ain’t no doorbell; it’s the automatic garage door closer. But I don’t know that at the time.

When I hear the garage door lurch downward, I shriek and try to run out but I’m too late. So I run back to the kitchen door and pound on it. Chopsley, her Chihuahua, has a hissy fit inside but nobody else comes.

I try to push up the garage door with my hands but it won’t budge. I flick the switch next to it to make it automatically go back up again. This turns the back yard light on and off but I don’t know that neither. I think the door is broken.

I got to explain. Ms. Larda just got her house rebuilt, with a garage next to her kitchen. And of course she got an automatic garage door opener.

My opinion is, nobody needs an automatic garage door opener because nobody needs to open their garage door, unless they keep their car in there, which they don’t, because it won’t fit along with the junk they also got in there – unless maybe they’re Donald Trump, who can probably afford a separate storage unit.

But Ms. Larda ain’t Donald Trump and even though Katrina cleaned out all her old junk, in two years she’s accumulated plenty more.

Besides which, she’s in business creating decorative garbage bin muumuus for people in New Orleans who don’t like the looks of the new garbage bins that the city strictly requires all residents to use. (I think they should strictly require all residents to stop shooting each other but don’t get me started on that.)

Anyway, she also uses the garage to store her fabric and artificial flowers and the like. 

And last week she asks if I’d pick up some feathery masks at a costume shop near my apartment. She needs them for a special Mardi Gras muumuu for some Carnival bigwig’s garbage bin.

I got plenty enough to do but you don’t tell Ms. Larda no, so I find time to get the masks and run them over to her house.

And here I am.

I pound on the kitchen door some more, and that sets Chopsley off again, but still nobody comes.

I am going to be here a while. I rummage around and find a lawn chair and make myself comfortable. There ain’t no windows in Ms. Larda’s garage but there’s a light on. And Ms. Larda installed a little room air conditioner for Chopsley, so she can lock him out there when she has a repairman or somebody in the house that he don’t approve of. So I turn that on.

I got plenty of time to think. My first thought is that the automatic garage door opener must’ve been invented by a man.

And this man, whoever he was, probably also had the brilliant idea to install washers and dryers in garages. So some self-respecting lady like myself would be doing laundry in my own garage, and would decide to take off what I was wearing and wash that too – just to get everything done – and would be standing there stark naked, measuring out the detergent, when somebody  – I never found out who – would press the door-open button and I would have to streak out clutching the Tide box to cover my personal parts.

And I can only thank God that happened before YouTube was invented.

Why didn’t this genius invent something that would do good in the world, like house keys that come when you call them or a car that finds its own parking space? I ask you that.

I pound on the door some more, and Chopsley gets all worked up again, but still nobody comes.

I am facing a refrigerator with “FEMA THIS!” spray-painted on the front. My brothers-in-law Lurch and Leech rescued it when somebody left it on the curb after the storm. They cleaned it with bleach and now it keeps their emergency beer stash. I take a bottle of Abita Amber and sit back down.

Then I see a cardboard box labeled “trashy books.” It is full of – well, well, well – romance novels. So Ms. Larda has a secret vice. I sit back and I sip this beer and start reading about bosoms that heave and members that throb.

A couple hours later, I been through three beers and a whole lot of heaving and throbbing. Meanwhile Ms. Larda, who, it turns out, was asleep on the couch without her hearing aids in, wakes up and shuffles into the kitchen where Chopsley is growling at the door. She opens it, sees a human being and lets loose a screech. I fling up my book and screech back. We stare at each other. Then I rush past her to the bathroom.

Afterwards, I explain, in kind of a snippy way, that I been trapped there because her automatic garage door opener don’t work. She pushes the little doorbell by the kitchen door and the garage door lurches right up.

Oh.
I got to say something to save face. So I say, “You got a nice library out there, Ms. Larda.” And I smirk. But she just rolls her eyes.

“I’m going to add to it,” she says. “Garage Door Openers for Dummies.”
I guess I could write it.