Friday, December 30, 2011
The night the Skinny Improv opened the theater for the first time in downtown Springfield was an exciting night. We had barely passed inspection that day and were required to have a person stationed with a flashlight at every floor of the building, in case of fire, even though we were only in the basement. When we were done that night we had a big party in the theater. It was so exciting. It was just pure exuberance that it was happening. At that time the Skinny Improv was located in a taller building on the center of downtown on the square. As the party was going, Michelle and I decided we would sneak away. So, we went out of the doors into the stairwell, and up all the stairs to the top to check the door to see if there was any roof access. By the way, this is my first thought in any remotely tall building. To our surprise, there was. We had to enter a doorway, and then sneak around the really old elevator shaft. Then, there was a small door, which was “locked” with some complicated string set up that wound around, somehow locking it.
I “unlocked” it and we got on the roof. It was an unseasonably nice night. We walked around to the other side, and did some smooching, as the kids call it. It was exciting.
We got back to the door.
It was closed.
We freaked out. Could we possibly stay up there all night? Even if we did, how would we ever get down? Who locked us in?
I thought about it for awhile and decided that it had to be Glen. Glen was an old guy who did maintenance for the building. In exchange for his services, he got a small apartment, that was really just a converted office, on a floor amongst lawyers. His door was even a dark wood door with a foggy glass window. Glen was straight out of a Scooby Doo cartoon. If the roles had been reversed and he was trying to get away with something I’m sure he would have uttered, “And I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids.” Glen had a dog named Cuddles who softened his harsh edges. They made quite a pair.
Eventually, we realized that we could bend the door by pressing in really hard. When we did that, we could get to the string that was locking us in. Michelle dug through her purse, which she luckily had, and found a key. We pressed in on the door and repeatedly struck the string until it broke. We made it back inside, hid the string remnant, and tied the, now shorter, door lock back into place. Then, we snuck quietly past Glen’s apartment back downstairs to safety.
I’ve always told Michelle that if I get arrested for something, it’s going to be trespassing.
Michelle’s response is, “Okay, but I’m not going to come get you out of jail.”
I’ve made peace with that. I just have a curiosity about old buildings that is often out of my control. I just have to go into them. Usually, this is not with Michelle. My friend, Mike, and I went to the top of a building downtown that was vacant at the time one late night. After exploring all around we got on the roof. When we looked down in the alley and I saw Michelle, who I had left to stand in the dark alley, I woke up and hurried back down.
The drive back from Iowa was one of those rare times when Michelle wanted to join in with me. In Spaulding, MO, which has a population under 50, there is an old white, one room church that sits in some woods by the side of the road. It has been sitting there for probably 80 years, and looks all of 80, except an enticing red front door. Old country churches have such a simple and beautiful allure to me. Today, we decided to explore. We went around the building taking pictures when Michelle noticed that the padlock on the front of the door was unlocked. We gingerly walked in and there were still pews, an ancient piano, a wood burning stove, and a pulpit with a hymnal open on top of it.
I was in heaven.
It was also exciting to have an exploring friend in Michelle. When we got to the door to exit, we realized that it was still unlocked. This was a relief.
We hurried past a sleeping Glen and got in the car.