I’m home alone presently. At least as home alone as a mother gets. I have my kids, and a dog, and an army of dirty laundry to keep me company, but the man I depend on to alligator-wrestle a burglar crawling through my bedroom window is gone.
Unless you are a burglar, and then he’s very much home. With weaponry.
Being home alone has its advantages, like unmitigated television watching. This week alone I’ve watched so many romantic comedies that Julia Roberts and I have synced monthly cycles. Staying home alone comes with culinary gains, as well. I’m completely helpless when it comes to feeding myself, so once I run out of Kashi freezer meals, I find a strong justification in meals beginning with cereal and ending with ice cream.
The temporary plural marriage I’ve forged between me, Julia Roberts and Ben & Jerry’s has been quite blissful.
That is, until the movie marathon is over and the spoon strikes the bottom of the pint. Then I sit alone — and bloated — in my desolate living room with bay windows that must be providing a wide-angle lens into my life for every voyeur in the area. That’s when I start to get scared.
I’ve always been antsy when left alone in a house. I remember vividly a time when I was 16 years old and was left alone for a couple of nights. Most teens would have been throwing a wild party or engaging in promiscuous activity in their parent’s bed. Not I. I was barricaded into my bedroom by a dresser moved in front of the door while I nervously watched sitcoms and clutched a Louisville Slugger. I finally had to call my father to beg for his return.
I was never nervous living by myself in NYC, but that’s because — any New Yorker can attest to this — there’s a security that comes with the crowds and the anonymity. Russian doormen and elevator passcodes also help. I couldn’t compel any of my Russian doormen to make the move with us to Maine. Mostly because the idea of living in our front yard sounded unappealing and because Maine, to them, was like being sent back to St. Petersburg.
So I’ve had to endure the horror-movie atmosphere of staying alone in a house while my husband is away. I do what any girl hellbent on survival would do. I tote around a cellphone already dialed to 911, and I plant large knives in drawers and under mattresses. I arm our alarm system so the motion detection is engaged at the stairwell and around the windows. My mouth stretches into a contented grin every time I hear the shrill pitch of the automated voice say, “Alarm activated.”
We’ve come a long way since we first moved out of the city. I had begged Greg to have an alarm system installed, as he was taking a trip to Ireland with his parents and I — too far along in pregnancy to join the trip — was remaining at home. He never got around to having the alarm system installed in time for his departure. Instead he went out the night before, promising to return with a solution. I hoped he was dragging an Ivan or a Maksim from their golden post in a city high-rise to stand guard at our house. Instead, he came back with a “Beware of Dog” sign despite the fact that our dog weighed four pounds.
Once he learned that I had slept on the couch with a machete for 10 nights, he relented and we got the alarm system upon his return. When the installer inquired after the reason we were getting the system, Greg said, “It was either this or a gun, and I’m pretty sure I’d wind up with a bullet hole with the latter.” Smart man. The system does bring me great peace of mind. That is until I start pondering whether there could be an underground ring of alarm system employee-criminals who break into homes with alarms they know how to disable.
The one feature I’ve requested in our next home: A panic room.
I think it’s totally reasonable. Ask Jodie Foster.
Erin Donovan moved with her family to the midcoast, where she constantly is told she says the word “scallops” incorrectly. She performs live and produces Web sketches derived from her popular humor blog I’m Gonna Kill Him. Follow her misadventures on imgonnakillhim.bangordailynews.com and on Twitter @gonnakillhim.