So I’m sitting in the car when I hear the tell-tale snick of all the doors locking.
“All the doors just locked,” Tired of Being Youngest announced helpfully from the back seat.
“I noticed that.” We are vaguely disquieted.
I’m in the passenger seat, holding the keys, waiting for the Son and Heir, my apprentice driver, to finish looking at blocks of wood in a friend’s yard. As a woodcarver, he’s in the equivalent of my yarn shop, debating the merits of walnut over oak, locust over birch.
I hit the button — click — and unlock the doors.
Two minutes pass of the Son-and-Heir critically viewing blocks of wood, hefting this one, peering at that one, setting two side by side and stepping back for a better view, when the doors lock again.
The sense of mutual disquietude in the car deepens.
I unlock the doors with a click. Two minutes later they lock again.
Snick. Click. Snick. Click. Eventually, understanding and motherly patience exhausted (there’s a reason why no one ever accompanies me to the yarn store), I click a last time to unlock from the inside and open the doors.
Apparently, all this time the car has been trying to tell me something — concerned that no one is in the driver’s seat but someone is on the passenger side, fiddling with the keypad — it launches the alarm, that loud, raucous beeping people generally ignore because it happens so frequently, but which is outrageously overwhelming when you are sitting in the midst of it.
Simultaneously, the Voice in the Back choruses with my own to screech out the obvious:
“The car alarm is going off! The car alarm is going off!” (I’m sure that the neighbors appreciated this concise explanation of the situation at hand. We really should have been there for Paul Revere’s ride.)
Despite the illusion of being cool, calm, and over the age of 40 (this last one no illusion), I am not immune to feeling like an idiot in the midst of a boisterously rollicking fishbowl. It is the unrelenting noise, however — which reminds me of a newborn with colic and the instinctive response of “Make it stop! Just make it stop!” — that freezes my brain and fingers.
“Make it Stop! Just make it stop! Everyone’s looking at us!” I’m not sure which of us shrieked this, but it represents the general consensus of our collective thoughts.
Frantically pushing buttons — the lock button, the unlock button, the panic button, the lock button twice, then the unlock with obsessive compulsive finesse — none of these make a difference. Although the entire fiasco involves less than 15 seconds, everything moves slowly, like a dream — except, mercifully unlike a dream, I don’t look down and find that I am unexpectedly topless, or have wandered into a public bathroom with unstalled doors and toilets set about, randomly, in the middle of the floor.
“Push the panic button!”
“Then lock it and unlock it and push the panic button!”
“Then put the key in the ignition and start the car!”
That’s actually a very good idea.
I follow through. Start the car. Relieved that the proper key is in the proper place, it stops the alarm.
Ah, Silence. You Dogood.
The only sounds are the thunk of a piece of wood dropping to the ground. The Son and Heir discovered some maple in the pile.