In attempting to solve The Case of Where To Go Dancing When You Are Over 40, my friend Leanne and I met at a beachside bar about 40 minutes from where I am staying in my parents’ town. She humors my geocaching addiction, so when I said “Let’s kill some time before the music starts by looking at the sunset and I’ll grab a cache or two” she said “Sure!”
And that’s where the night went awry.
The sunset was indeed beautiful. Look:
I snapped this picture right before I nabbed the cache, which was nestled at shoulder height among some large rocks that shored up a bridge over this inlet. What I did not realize is that the rocks were not exactly on solid ground. So when I stepped forward to replace the cache, I kicked my car keys, which I had placed on the ground next to my phone so that I’d have my hands free to sign the log, into a little depression in the rock formation.
“Haha,” I laughed to myself. “Losing the keys would be SO bad!” And I bent down to retrieve them, poking them farther into this depression, which was actually a small hole in the pile of rocks.
“HAHA!” I bark-laughed to myself. “VERY BAD INDEED!” I stuck my hand into the hole to grab the keys, and they slipped out of my hand, farther into the hole.
And I never heard where they landed.
That’s because they didn’t land. They fell into the deepest of deep holes in rocks piled up underneath bridges over salty inlets along the Connecticut coast.
Fully panicking now, I got down on my belly – in my beautiful multicolored floor length summer skirt and jeweled thongs, worn to create a beachy tried-a-little-but-not-too-hard look for the dancing at the beach bar – and shined the light of my phone into this dark hole which was now increasingly difficult to see into because the end of natural light was upon me. I felt around inside with my hand. The rocks had formed a tunnel which went straight down into blackness, roughly the diameter of my arm.
At one point, if you were, say, a fisherman paddling by in your rowboat, you might have looked up onto the white rocks that support this bridge on Route 156 in Old Lyme, CT, and seen a middle aged woman in a beautiful skirt, laid out horizontally on the dirty path, her entire right arm seemingly swallowed by the rocks up to the shoulder. I had my entire arm down in this hole, desperately feeling about for the keys. I heard some subterranean clanking, and thought with a momentary thrill that I had found them, but it was just my watch pinging against a large shard of broken glass. And that’s when I realized I was well and truly screwed. (That is not the exact word I used in my head, but since geocaching is a family activity I am keeping my language clean-ish for this story.)
I pulled my arm out of the hole, stood up to full height, and waved my lit phone over my head to signal to Leanne, who had waited across the street in her mile-high espadrille wedges, having suggested (in vain) as I skipped off on the hunt that I leave the keys with her so she could wait in the car. She is smart.
And also the best person with whom I could have shared this misadventure. Because when I shouted “I dropped the car keys down a hole and they are gone forever!” she trotted down the path in the darkening dusk, twisting her ankle and skinning her knee, looked into the hole, confirmed that the keys were indeed gone forever and we were indeed well and truly screwed…
..and she laughed.
We hadn’t even been into the bar yet. We hadn’t had a drop to drink. This was just another example of The Way Things Go Sometimes. A fluke, a thankfully harmless one.
The worst part was that her husband had to come pick us up, drive us back to get the spare key from my parents (“Um, hi Mom, yes I’m okay but I lost your car keys”) and then Leanne and I drove all the way back to get the first car, THEN we finally shoehorned at least one dance (all alone just the two of us in the middle of a big, empty beach bar that has actual people in it during the DAY) into our night before calling it and heading back home, each at a separate wheel.
In the end, the only damage done is that my Mom’s keys are lost, and those are replaceable. This story certainly is not, the moral being that if you are going to squeeze just one geocache hunt into the beginning of your night out you must give your keys to your friend or for God’s sake wear something with pockets.