Read Part One
"Omigod," I said when she told me this. "Omigod."
"Are you going to stay on campus and wait for them?" she asked.
"I don't have any choice," I said. "I don't have my car keys to drive home, or my house keys to get in my house even if I got a ride from someone else. I don't have my wallet or my coat or my umbrella--if it weren't raining so hard, I'd just go look for the cop. But everything is in my office."
"Do you have a cell phone number where I can call you in case I get through to someone?"
"I don't have ANYTHING," I said, "except the clothes I'm wearing, which includes a skirt with a couple of great big blood stains on it. The whole reason I left my office was so I could go to the restroom and deal with the fact that I had bled all over the back of my skirt. Which is why I wasn't thinking clearly enough to grab my keys, because I pretty much never do things like this."
Which is true. In the past 20 years I've locked myself out of my house a grand total of once. In my entire life I've locked my keys in my car a grand total of once. It's precisely this kind of thing I'm trying to avoid by "just checking" everything, and I usually do pretty well. So I'm blaming this on the gremlins. I wrote those provocative entries last week about how to outsmart them, and they found a way to outsmart me, waited until I was distracted, then moved my keys out of my line of vision so I'd leave my office without them. Keyless, I wandered the halls in my bloody skirt for 40 minutes, gratefully attempting any solution my colleagues offered, though the main thing they did is talk about how weird it was that no one was available to open my office for me, since they'd locked themselves out of their offices at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning or 10 p.m. on a Saturday night and had no problem getting someone over in five minutes or less with a key to unlock their doors and give their lives back to them.
Finally someone from maintenance arrived and let me into my office; there, huddled in an undignified lump in the middle of my desk, were my keys. I stuffed them into my pocket, then called campus security again. The receptionist and I had become good friends; I'd called her half a dozen times to see if the cop had begun answering his pager. "This is the woman who was locked out of her office," I said, "and I just wanted to let you know someone from maintenance unlocked my door, and I also wanted to say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for spending forty minutes on the phone tracking down someone to help me."
Then I called my Buffy colleague--whom I'll call Spike--to tell him I'd be late; then I went home and changed out of my bloody clothes. For those of you who don't know, blood stains are notoriously hard to remove from clothing; it helps a lot if you can rinse the stain while it's still damp, but these had (of course) dried in the meantime. The main thing you must NEVER do to a blood stain is wash it in hot water; hot water cooks the proteins and sets the stain, so that you'll never get it out. I am happy to say that after a good long soak in cold water, the stains disappeared.
Dressed in black pants so that if I bled on them, it at least wouldn't show, I went to pick up Spike. We had originally planned to go to a nice, quiet coffee shop so we could concentrate, and eat healthy sandwiches and drink herbal tea so we could stay focused and alert. "Would you mind terribly if we went someplace that serves alcohol?" I asked. "The past hour or two has been totally shitty and I am not in the mood for healthy and wholesome; I want a reuben overstuff with corned beef and sauerkraut, a greasy side of fries, and a pint or two of Guinness." Mercifully, it was not a hard sell.
Because Spike and I are brilliant people and Buffy is an incredible show, we came up with some great things to talk about in our panel this weekend, even in an Irish pub with celtic-flavored rock and roll wafting from the speakers. And I was glad I'd done something to redeem the day instead of staying home and sulking, which is what I came close to doing--I almost canceled. But I think I have learned my lesson, which is this: If you are going to lead a life of vigilant "just checking" in an attempt to outsmart the gremlins, DON'T TELL THEM, BECAUSE THEY CONSIDER IT TAUNTING. And if you taunt them, they'll taunt you back.