I tried to exit the house quietly this morning. It was, afterall, 5:30 am and not even Barley, our ever watchful black lab raised an eyebrow when I stepped out of bed. In the cold Northern Virginia darkness of our townhome, I used my spatial memory to stealthily slip into the master bathroom, twisting the knob to open and close the door with careful precision, so as to avoid even the slightest "click". I slowly shut the bathroom door until it came flush against the door frame, careful not to cause a change in the air pressure - that could be just the thing needed to pop my slumbering wife out of her final subconscious moments of sleeping joy.
My goal was to hear her tell me later that she never remembered me leaving the house. Too many times, I thought I had achieved that only to hear how much of a clod and insensitive house-leaver I was. I've got to get better at this, I thought.
After showering I continued to move with muscular control and precision around the bedroom getting dressed. The only less than perfect execution of my operation, so far, was being forced to choose a completely random pair of socks to wear. I had to avoid riskily flicking on the dresser lamp. So, I picked a thin nylon pair in the hopes they were black. It was worth the risk. Even if I was wrong, my exit was still going well at this point.
Moving down the stairs to the main level of our house, still in sleepy darkness, I grabbed a frozen entre for lunch that day, popped the cell phone off the charger, threw on my winter coat, and hefted my work bag over my shoulder. I paused for a moment. All set.
Walking to the front door now, oh wait; forgot the car keys! So, I moved back to the key rack in the kitchen hallway and slipped the keys of the hook. About this time it also occured to me that the house alarm was still set. Sooo glad I remembered that.
With one last hurdle to leaving, I proceeded across the kitchen towards the alarm pad... SLAM, I rammed full force into a half-swung open baby gate! Freeze now. The whole house shuddered while the sound rocked off of every wall in the place. Crap!! Did that wake her up!?? I wondered and I hoped Matt, our 20 month old, hadn't begun stirring. I really don't want my wife be forced to wake up at 5:45 to start a day that normally begins around 7:30 or 8, all because I needed to leave early today. Darn it. But let's not give up yet; maybe there's still a chance I can do this. Maybe no one actually heard it.
I had just pressed the alarm code and finished rationalizing the last ounce of hope when I slipped my keys in the my pants pocket and headed for the door for the second time now. This time I was careful to move the baby gate clearly out of the way. HONK, HONK, HONK, HONK,... Wha... damn!! My car's "panic" button was somehow pressed by the position of my keys in my pocket! I frantically reach for my keys and search for the button to turn it off, pressing every button at least once. Why can't General Motors have thought of this when they made keyless remotes that year? I despaired.
Well, that's it. Matt is sure to have heard that. My wife is sure to be cursing my barbaric inconsideration so finally, in defeat, I walk towards the front door. Pathetically, I try to open it carefully, as if it mattered any more. It was just about then a smile broke as I realized how stupid I'd been. It occurred to me that my downstairs catastrophies might just have been avoided if I'd only have turned on a light! The "turn on a light" metaphors were stampeding horses right then.
At last, I was outside. I got into my car and pushed in the key, popped the transmission into neutral to slip out of the driveway, as far away from the house as possible, before I started the engine. I turned the key and, without any engine-saving warmup, I put the transmission into "Drive" and pulled away. I guess I'll have to find out later how it all went. All I know now is; I tried to leave my house quietly this morning and all I have to show for it are these conspicuously blue socks.