OK, so. For the first time in my 34 years, I’ve just had my survival skills tested in the face of a home break-in. Result? Desperately lacking.

A few minutes ago, I decided to have a shower in an effort to put off writing my column. While in said shower, I thought I heard some knocking. To be sure, I stopped washing my hair and stood still for a moment. The knocking continued in a consistent manner but did not sound like it was coming from the door. Since a spring hailstorm has insurance companies buying everyone in our subdivision new roofs this summer, I decided the neighbors must have started their project and continued enjoying my shower.

I was in final rinse-off mode when I opened my eyes. Through the glass wall of the shower and in the reflection of the vanity mirror, I could see a very tall, hulking man standing in our master bedroom. Instantly, I started screaming. Not a cute scream, not a girly scream, but an “Aahhhhh! Aaaahhh!” scream that sounded like Jodie Foster in that movie “Nell,” the one about the woman who was raised in the woods.

As I was screaming, the only thing that could register in my brain was that this man must be the robber who has been terrorizing our neighborhood for the past year. The same man who broke into Ted Smith’s home while he was sleeping and gingerly took the wallet off his nightstand. The same robber who broke into Fran George’s garage and viciously stole their boy’s bicycle.

Indeed this man in my bedroom seemed to be going for the nightstand, exactly where my husband keeps his watch. A deep-seated instinct to protect my stuff kicked in with a powerful surge and in all my horrible nakedness, I leaped out of the shower and into the master bedroom. My plan? To chase off this 7-foot man. Weapon? Nil. Strategy? Formulating.

“I’m with Strack Heating and Air-Conditioning!” he yelled, noting my nakedness and slapping his hand over his eyes.

I leaped back into the bathroom and hid behind the wall, shaking with the fiercest rush of adrenaline I’ve ever felt.

“Is your air-conditioner broken?” he yelled out slowly, as if to a person who was very far away.

“Yes,” I squeaked back.

“Is. It. In. The. Basement?” he yelled.

“It is,” I whispered.

“OK, I’m going to check on it.”

With my hands cupped over my face, I stood dripping in the corner of the bathroom for quite a while, ladies and gentleman. I was, I realized, the dumbest Strack Heating and Air-Conditioning customer they had ever had. Not to mention the fact that I’d just shown the Strack man my goody package. And now, to beat all, I was going to have to go and talk to him because the problem with the air-conditioner, my husband had patiently explained to me the night before, seemed involved.

So I picked my 34-year-old self up to get dressed. Despite the 95-degree heat, I chose long pants and a woolen cardigan, appropriate attire, I felt, for someone who was aiming to regain a modicum of composure. All the while, I was trying desperately to figure out how to approach the whole situation with the slightest degree of humor. “Well, that was embarrassing” was the best opening line I could come up with.

Turns out, I didn’t have to worry about my comedy act because the moment I got to the basement, the Strack man, with a hunk of chew in his mouth, said in the thickest Eastern Kentucky accent I’ve ever heard, “Ma’am, you scared the piss out of me.”

I laughed the shaky laugh that comes from excessive relief, and we exchanged apologies.

Moral of the story? You know when you’re watching a horror movie and Michael Meyers or someone is slowly chasing the pretty girl? And she keeps tripping and zigzagging and doesn’t have a plan and Michael keeps getting closer and closer and all you’re thinking is, “Man, why is she such an idiot? I would never do that.”

Turns out, I would. I was that idiot. I was that girl. Sobering thought.


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