Though I'm not sure exactly why, I'm a locker. I make sure all the windows are closed and doors locked before leaving the house, and I lock the car even when it's in the driveway and I'm mowing the grass nearby.
I suppose it's all part of the typical father personality, because we are the ones who must wander the house endlessly, looking not for an honest man but for a light left on unnecessarily, a faucet dripping, a toaster plugged in long after breakfast has passed, a thermostat turned too high or too low.
Let the women shop. Let the kids make mincemeat of the week's groceries. The dads will come along and try to make sense of the disorder. (Not any actual household disorder, you understand; we just try to save a buck here and there to make up for everyone else's profligacy.)
My wife also locks things, but a few times she has removed the key from her car ignition and laid it on the seat without transferring it to her purse before getting out. Then she has called me to come bail her out.
Of course, I have done so joyfully. It's what we do.
On the other hand, not once in umpteen years of driving have I locked myself out of the car.
Until last month.
As soon as I got out of my car at work, I could tell something felt wrong. I had my wallet. My lunch bag. Something was missing, though, so I pulled the door handle to check inside for what I might have left behind. Locked.
No problem; I'm a locker.
After patting down my pockets, I realized what was missing. Looking inside the car, I saw my keys lying right there on the seat.
Maybe I had left a window down. No. I'm a locker, and I never leave windows down. Perhaps the rear hatch was unlocked. No, hatch latched.
Back in the office, I stared at the phone for a long time before making the call. Sigh.
"Hello, Honey, I've got car trouble. It won't start."
(That was technically true.)
"Oh, man," my wife commiserated.
"Yeah, so, listen, do you think you could you drive down to the office for me?"
"Of course," she said.
"Oh, and would you bring my extra key? Love you. Bye."
I hung up quickly. Had I been sly enough? Did she miss the importance of bringing the key?
In a word, no.
After arriving with the spare, she laid down the law: "Don't ever again get on to me for locking myself out of my car."
I promised. I might need her good graces again. I'm a locker, and there's no telling what I'll lock next.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EMILY: Today is our granddaughter Emily's 13th birthday. She seems much older, and her beauty and intelligence continue to bloom.
Around this time each year, Emily never fails to remind us that my wife and I missed her birth out of town because our youngest daughter was graduating from high school that day. (We never should have told her about that.)
Happy 13th, Emily. Forgive us someday.