I listen to Daisy’s cell ring while hugging myself in the parking lot.  Shaun is hours away.  Calling her would be selfish…she’d move heaven and earth for me, and be crazed by not being able to come to my rescue.

Please pick up…please pick up…please please PLEASE pick up.

Crap. An overly pleasant female voice says: Please enjoy the music while your party is being reached…

Daisy answers with her singing hello that says she knows it’s me: “Helllloooo?”

I cut to the chase.  No time.  It’s getting dark.

“It’s me” I say, stupidly.  Of course she knows it’s me.  I’m rattled.  “I need you to talk me down.”

I hear her take a steadying breath on the other end.  God love Daisy.  She is so THERE when I need help.  I’m starting to feel less panicked.  Oh Lord, please do not let me start crying.

Very carefully, as if I were something she’s trying very hard not to break, she says, “Where are you?”  Pause.  “Is the cake in your cart already?”

“Cake?” I say, blankly, “what cake?”

“This isn’t about cake?”  Daisy says, trying mightily to act unsurprised.

It’s ALWAYS about cake when I call in a panic and say I need to be talked down.  This makes me laugh.  Granted it’s shaky, giddy, uh-oh laughter.  But I’m laughing.

“What do you need to be talked down about?”  Pause.  She’s switching gears. What else, besides cake,  could possibly bring on a talk-me-down call?

Being alone in a darkening parking lot elicits primal fear.   Maybe you have to be female or a gay male to understand this.   “My keys”  I gulp in some air,  “I lost my keys.”  I’m key OCD.  I don’t lose keys.  I have to know exactly where they are at all times.  I have never, ever lost my keys.

“Where are you?”  Daisy is all business.  It’s like calling 911.   The mitochondria in my cells straighten up and listen.  A minute ago they were busily hitting each other and shouting: It’s all YOUR fault.

“In the parking lot” I say, helpfully.

“Okay.”  That’s a start. “What parking lot?”

“The one in front of the pet food store.  I took Christmas to the dog park and I had to stop here and get some food and then…”

Daisy interrupts firmly, “Which pet store?  What city?”

“Oh” I say, surprised.  That’s right.  She can’t see me.   “I’m at the Petco or Petsmart or whatever it is in the BIG parking lot”

Pause while we both think; NOT helpful.

I add, “The one next to Target”.  Brilliant.  I’ve just narrowed it down to two cities with big parking lots, pet stores, and Targets.

Maybe it would help if I TURNED AROUND and looked at the 6 foot tall brightly lit letters  on the front of the building.  “I’m at PetSmart” I say in a small voice.   I keep turning.  “Linen store.  Starbucks.  Movie theater.”

“Is Christmas in the car?”


“Is he locked in the car?”

“No.  That’s just it.  I can’t figure out where they are.   I thought I came out of the store and….”

“So your car is unlocked, and you can get in; you just can’t find your keys?”

Uh…yeah.  I’m in a known area with help in a well lit parking lot and all the stores are open.  It’s not 3am.  It’s dinner time.  I can go into the store (and take Christmas with me, it’s PetSmart) or I can get in the car and lock it.  I am perfectly safe.  Even without my keys.

I need medication.  Bless Daisy.  She doesn’t treat me as if I’ve just been released from an institution.

“Where in the parking lot are you?  Are you near the building?  How far away from the store are you?”

“First parking space in front” I say, sheepishly.

“I’m coming.”

Daisy gets up at 3am to catch the commute bus to The Big City.  It’s a half hour till her bedtime.  Take a deep breath.  I have three hours to search every shelf in the store before they close.  If push came to shove, I could WALK home in 40 minutes.

” Yes. No.  Don’t come.  Let’s see if we can do this over the phone?”

“Did you dump everything out of your purse?”

“Well, no, not everything…”   She doesn’t need to say anything.  “Dumping….”  Nothing.  I’m OCD about my purse too.  Clean as a whistle.   “Nope.  Not here.”

“What about under the car?”

We go through the list of possible places checking and re-checking.  I can feel my panic coming back.  I do NOT want her to come get me.  I’m cursing my handy zillion pocket parka.  I empty every pocket again (definitely not OCD about parka pockets…what IS that wad of black stuff?”) and move the inventory of barn flotsam around on the seat.  I shake my parka upside down, as if it were a stubborn child refusing to fork something over.  NOTHING.  Out of habit, I pull one of the sleeves out where it was jammed up inside itself.  Might as well be neat while I panic?  What is WRONG with me.

Then…familiar jingle…thud.  The keys were in the SLEEVE.

I hold up my keys.  “LOOK!!!” I say to Daisy in a Eureka voice.

“I take it we found them?”  she says, dryly.

Why do I think she can see me?  What am I, five?

“They were in my sleeve!”  She has no idea what sleeve I am talking about, or why exactly, my keys would be in ANY sleeve.  I waggle the unjammed sleeve. ” I can’t believe it.”  I can hear Daisy thinking, you couldn’t FEEL them?

“I took off my parka before I got in the car…I guess I had so many things in my hands I didn’t notice the they caught in the sleeve.”

“Good.  Are you in the car?”  I nod vigorously. This is a phone.  We speak into phones.

“I’m in the car, it’s locked, the keys are in the ignition.”

“Okay…we have our purse?  Our dog food?  Our coat?  Our dog? Anything else we might be missing?

Just my brains.  “Nope.  All here.”

When I get home, there’s an email from Daisy:

1)  make extra keys 2) hide or give to me.  Did I ever tell you about when I locked myself out of the cottage?

You gotta love a friend who goes the extra mile to let you know she’s done it too, so you don’t feel so bad about calling.

I write her back:  No.  But tell me in the morning.  Go to sleep!


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