Life Face First: Negotiating One Calamity at a Time
I pulled a bobby pin from my hair with a flourish that was exceeded only by the gleam in my eye.
I was going to live out a childhood dream. I was going to pick a lock.
“I watched a lot of Scooby Doo as a kid,” I explained to my husband’s grandmother reassuringly.
She didn’t look convinced.
We were seated at her dining room table, going through paperwork her late husband left her.
One box, a vintage locking metal file folder, was firmly secured, and she didn’t know where the key was. The lock appeared to be quite simple. I felt sure that if Shaggy and the gang could pick the lock to a haunted mine shaft with nothing more than a hair pin, I could easily open this little lock.
Besides, I had experience.
When I was a kid, I spent hours practicing picking the lock on my bedroom door. It seemed to me to be a more useful skill than learning things I would never use – things like math, for example.
I unbent the pin and inserted one end into the lock. I gave an expert flick of my wrist…
…and nothing happened.
I frowned and tried again.
This never happened on Scooby Doo. Where’s Velma when you need her?
Twenty minutes, two bent hairpins and one ruined paperclip later, I began looking for the key.
When that failed, I asked my husband Brian to try his luck at lock picking.
“You’ll probably get it on the first try,” I complained.
I was already mad at his imagined success. I wanted the box opened, but I wanted to be the one who opened it.
He inserted the sturdiest hairpin, gave it a twist and to my great satisfaction, the lock stayed firmly in place.
Seven-year-old me would have never forgiven thirty-seven-year old me if he’d picked it on the first try.
Of course, she probably wouldn’t be happy if he got it on the second try either. I held my breath.
Brian wiggled the bobby pin again, more forcefully this time. As he fought the recalcitrant lock, his thumb pressed down on the locking mechanism. A latch released and the lid opened.
We stared at it dumbly.
“It wasn’t locked?” I asked in disbelief.
“No,” he replied almost as confused as I felt. “It was only latched.”
“So, you didn’t pick the lock after all?” I asked with relief.
“Nope,” he replied.
Seems my dreams of picking locks would have to wait until another day. After all, I reassured myself, you can’t pick a lock that isn’t locked.
Nora Blithe is the author of the syndicated humor column “Life Face First.” Read her blog online at NoraBlithe.com.