A Balcony, A Girl, and Nobody Else In Sight
By Margaret Curtis, PhD
When Clint Eastwood performed his minimalist stage play with a chair one month ago, he anticipated my recent experience engaging in a self and soul dialogue. An entire audience should have shared my existential moment. It was a perfect set for a grand soliloquy, a monologue maybe, or even a freak-out call to 9-1-1.
Unfortunately, I had left my cell phone in my apartment, behind the glass door, with the dog, the cats, and my answering machine, which wouldn’t have been picking up unless one of my talented cats was answering. So, I considered my alternatives under that squeamish circumstance:
- I could take out a rope ladder, and haul myself over the ledge.
- I could haul myself over the ledge, risking broken bones when I landed not so lightly
- I could attract a passerby to rescue me from my accumulating stupidity.
- I could knock on the walls between the apartments, hoping somebody would hear me.
- I could scream my lungs out.
After a long, thoughtful meditation on my dilemma, I discarded choice 1. I have never possessed a rope ladder. Next, I really considered choice 2 because I could already see myself finding just the right positions for my feet and leveraging my body over the top and, then, skimming the building like Spider Girl, if there was one, but there wasn’t.
So, I chose Number 3. Unfortunately, a passerby saw me waving blithely from my shivering isolation, and he turned into our parking lot, too. But then, for reasons which will always remain unknown to me, that smiling biker waved—and kept right on going. Is that what you would do, if you had a chance to rescue a girl from a balcony? Shakespeare wouldn’t. I’m sure of that.
Since 15 or 20 minutes had now elapsed—it’s hard to keep track when you’ve forgotten your watch, too, and your cell phone’s gone missing, and the temperature is falling to somewhere south of 43 degrees!—I came to choice 5, not with any particular wisdom, but because that was the only alternative left. So, some squeaky voice that could not be mine called out, “HeLLO!”
I repeated that brilliant greeting for 10 minutes or so. Then, just when I thought I really was about to go over the ledge head first, because what other choice did I have, I heard the loveliest sound in the world: “Meg, is that you?” I admitted that I was the idiot screaming at the top of her lungs for reasons involving animals and doors and locks and missing keys and, mostly, just me.
A marvelous neighbor had heard my unconscionable screaming, and concluded that maybe a human being was at a loss to know how to descend from a balcony without ending up in mid-air, or worse yet, how to get down without landing on her elbow, knee, or upside down head. Can you imagine? She’d heard my dog first.
He wouldn’t give up on me. Neither would she.
After another series of choices—call maintenance, find keys, get inside the apartment in spite of the dog who never would shut up until his owner was where she belonged—we rounded up those elements in order, and I entered my apartment again, but only with her assistance. The dog immediately expected extra treats. My neighbor expected nothing. She receives my eternal gratitude.