Wednesday, January 12, 2005

"Wrong Door" Anvilcloud

In 1938 Douglas Corrigan landed his small plane at Baldonnel Airport in Dublin. Supposedly, he had set out to fly to California from New York but got lost in the fog and the clouds and ended up in Ireland some twenty-eight hours later. Although he stuck to his story until the bitter end, most are sceptical since he had previously been denied a proposed flight plan from Newfoundland to England due to the questionable condition of his biplane.

However, rather than landing himself in the midst of an international brouhaha, Corrigan became somewhat of a hero for his audacity and daring. He was given a ticker-tape parade down Broadway and became quite famous as "Wrong Way" Corrigan. His popularity extended so far that they made a movie about his exploits, The Flying Irishman, and he was actually paid to play an advisory role in its making.

Perhaps you have never before heard the story. I only became aware as a young man while watching Cuppa's grandfather and great grandfather at their famous cribbage matches. Great grandfather was never short of expressions, one of which was "Wrong Way Corrigan." He uttered this every time the turn-up card revealed that he had chosen to discard the wrong one. This happened a lot.

However, my own penchant for walking through the wrong door is more likely to find me entombed in the hoosegow enduring the lot of a solitary pervert rather than being feted as the hero in a ticker-tape parade.

Yesterday, my wife and I entered a coffee shop and immediately, as is our custom, repaired to the washrooms. However, you must understand this about me: I am a daydreamer and woolgatherer by nature. I can't help it. My body might be on its way to the loo, but my head could be revisiting my grade five classroom and Miss McDonald whom I loved so dearly, or wondering if we left enough peanut butter to satisfy the chickadees, or contemplating whether the Palestinian election might result in Middle-East rapprochement. So it was, with thoughts such as these flitting through my cranium, that I dazedly followed Cuppa — followed her right in to the women's washroom!

Fortunately, it was a small and otherwise unoccupied washroom. However, both she and I immediately and simultaneously noted my faux pas, and I beat a hasty retreat into my own designated loo. We could hear one another enjoying a hearty laugh, each from our legally-designated stations.

I suppose that could happen to anyone — once. Somewhat embarrassingly, however, I am forced to confess that this is at least strike number three for "Wrong Door" Anvilcloud. On the other two occasions I was on my own: once in a large bookstore and once in a mall. In each case, the male and female lavatory doors lay adjacent to one another, one basically ending where the other began. With my penchant for mind-wandering, there was really no question that I was about to choose the wrong one.

Imagine my slow double take as I enter the room and peer about for urinals but see none. The light slowly begins to dawn but just a trifle too late. My emerging horror is confirmed by the appearance of a female person emerging from the stalls. I cannot begin to describe the look on her face, and somehow I'm sure that she would report exactly the same thing about the dazed and confused plod in the ladies' washroom.

The crowning achievement of "Wrong Door" Anvilcloud, however, has nought to do with lavatories. Nothing as simple as that: for I entered not the wrong washroom but the whole wrong dwelling.

You see, we had been visiting in-laws, and being the ever-helpful and animal-loving person that I indeed am, I volunteered to take the dog, Licorice, for a walk. Do I sense the dear reader already beginning to giggle?

In my defence, and heaven knows that I need one, my in-laws dwelt in one of those confounded subdivisions where all houses are pretty much identical. To compound the likelihood for error, they lived in a cul de sac. In point of fact, they lived in the culminating, circular part of the cul de sac, where the lots are somewhat pie-shaped with the narrow parts of the wedges abutting closely at the front so the driveways end at the street mere inches apart from one another.

So, you see, it was amazingly easy to miss the correct driveway by a paltry few inches and to proceed, head bowed in yet another daydream, up the wrong driveway, right through the wrong door, and right into the wrong house. The dog, which knew blamed-well where he was, was no help whatsoever. He gladly led or accompanied me (take your pick) and happily, with furiously-wagging tail, waited for me to bend down and remove his leash: which I did.

These following two things happened almost concurrently. I turned to hang the leash on the coat rack and was absolutely shocked to find none. The briefest instant of bewilderment was abruptly followed by a dazzling clarity — I was in the wrong house! Synchronically, the lady of the house ventured out of the kitchen asking perplexedly if she could be of some assistance.

With very hasty and profuse apologies, I hauled the dog (bad, bad dog) out of that house and over one dwelling to the appropriate domicile. Who can resist a good story, even at one's own expense? Just as I do now, I quickly recounted all, and much mirth ensued.

My hope is that the story is at least half as humorous in the writing as it was in the happening and the initial recounting. Have a great day, and pay very close attention to proximate doors.


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