I picked Michael up in my sporty little Chevy Nova (some late 60s' vintage, used, two-toned rust-colored and white) to come stay the night with me one weekend back in maybe 1974-75. I had recently moved away from home into my own apartment in Sugarhouse, SLC, and we missed each other, my kid brother and I. While I lived at home, we had embarked upon some lovely, weird and woolly escapades in his very early years; some even before he could speak. (Telling a few of those stories will likely and lovingly come at another time. I only mention it to point to our history of doing "fun and funny" things together.)
Angels or Gulls game, Utah scones, Allen Park peacocks, Trolley Square fried ice cream? The last place we went was somewhere we could be barefoot. (This is germane.)
I probably made Schilling Salisbury Steak and gravy with powdered potatoes and canned corn for supper.
Then we slept.
We were up again, early and revved for another full day of taking in the city. Michael had left his shoes down in the car, and being the very mature eight-year-old he was, I sent him down with the keys to retrieve them. He came back through the front door with no shoes.
"Couldn't you find them?" They were right there on the back seat.
"Yeah, I got them."
"Well, where are they?"
"They're next door."
How in the world...? Who lives next door? I had no idea who lived in that apartment.
The obligatory French toast was ready and waiting for him on the table. He sat down, poured a bucket of syrup onto his plate and calmly told me that when he came back up the stairs of our building, he went into the wrong apartment. He hadn't realized it was the wrong apartment until he walked all the way into the bedroom and saw someone who wasn't me sleeping in the bed that wasn't mine. That person heard him, raised up suddenly from the pillow and the two of them stared in stunned silence at each other.
It startled Michael so, that he dropped his shoes, spun around on his heels and scampered out the door.
In a fashion, I witnessed history repeat itself several years later while I was living in Seoul, Korea. I slept on a cotton mat on the floor next to a large and low garden window, a window through which the Granny of the family would often hand me roses and cosmos as she tended the flowers in the yard and I sat inside on the floor, painting. It was a very warm summer night, illuminated by moonlight and a few distant stars through the branches of a persimmon tree . The sliding rice-paper panels had been widely separated in order to help cool off the room as I slept. In the middle of the night, I raised up on my elbow in an effort to stretch out a bit and roll over. Right as my face was level with the broad window sill, a scavenging, brown rat who had been running along that same window sill stopped abruptly, raised up on his hind legs and I could swear I saw his squinty little eyes widen with fear in the split second before he dived off the window sideways, Esther Williams-style. (If you are unfamiliar with Esther Williams, think synchronized swimmer diving sideways.)
Well, that was a fine how-do-you-do! Now what? Neither of us wanted to go knock on someone's door and explain that the kid accidentally entered the wrong apartment and continued all the way into the bedroom without realizing it looked nothing like the right apartment, the furniture looked nothing like the right furniture.
They were only shoes, after all. New shoes could be found in any department store. Take Grand Central, for example. They had just the right size. (Of course, this was back in the day when you could go into a store barefoot.)
Til this day, I wonder about that neighbor. What scenario left those shoes in the middle of the bedroom doorway? And, what of those shoes? Where did they end up?
Who lives in the city and doesn't lock their doors at night?