"On my way," she texted. "Shopping done!"
"I'll be ready," I replied. But ready for what, and by when?
Susan drives from O'Leary to Charlottetown for a few days every week, often stopping on the way for provisions at Sobeys in Summerside. 'On my way' signified to me the start of a sixty minute drive from the west of the island. Normally I am prepared way in advance but that day I was running late owing to an early morning excursion to Sport Chek, on the hunt for Under Armour compression shorts (long leg, 32 waist). But I digress.
I consulted my watch and sketched out a mental plan by which I would be sitting comfortably in my armchair awaiting Susan's arrival with time to spare, bathed, shaved, bathroom cleaned, laundry folded and stowed, and my modest abode vacuumed and scrubbed to the point where eating off the floor would be a serious contention; my preferred way of life.
While drawing a deep, hot bath, I shaved my cheeks till they glowed smooth and pink. I had stripped off and was about to clamber into the tub when a thought occurred... vacuuming can be sweaty work. Perhaps I should do that before bathing; such a sensible move. I strode to the storage room, bare feet slapping on the vinyl floor, and grabbed my vacuum cleaner (Kenmore, cylinder type, 1400 watts) and carried it to my bedroom. I would start there, shimmy to the hall, the second bedroom and thence to the living room; my faultless plan.
Here I will concede this was not my first foray into housework 'au naturel'. Perhaps it's that certain thrill, that frisson of excitement, dancing from room to room, wondering if it's safe to scurry past those huge patio windows. You get in the zone; the back and forth, the hum of the motor. In fairness and in my defence, it's easy to forget you're in your birthday suit.
I twirled out of my bedroom, tugging my trusty vac behind, long lissom limbs reaching and stretching into all nooks and crannies. Soft brush attachment in place, I sucked at ledges, shelves, skirting boards and radiators, leaping over the cylinder as nimbly as a young gazelle, in a world of my own.
As I pirouetted out of the bathroom, hose and nozzle in hand, and headed for the living room, I saw a person... a real, live, fully dressed person, looking at me with eyebrows arched high and jaw slack. I froze... my heart actually skipped several beats. While my mind processed the scene and its ramifications, my silent witness sank slowly to her knees. Then she bowed forward until her forehead reached the floor. Only then did she emit a sound, a stuttering squawk, half laugh, half wail...
As alarm took its vice-like grip on me, I leapt sideways in a single bound to the relative safety of bedroom two. "You're early, Susan," I ventured, studiously avoiding any mention of my state.
Her initial reply was a clucking sound which gradually resolved into peals of laughter. I sneaked a peek around the door frame and saw Susan lying on my floor literally quivering with mirth.
"You made good time from Summerside," I said.
Between ragged guffaws came the words, "I messaged you from Charlottetown, ten minutes away! Now I see what you meant by I'll be ready!"
We met under adventurous circumstances several months ago and became inseparable from day one so it's strange that I felt so cringingly embarrassed, but I did. Perhaps it was the simple business of being caught red-handed and bare-cheeked, quite unexpectedly. Well, put yourself in a similar position and imagine!
To her credit (and proof, though hardly needed, that she accepts every part of my character and personality), Susan didn't ask me why. Nor did she bat an eyelid while I blabbered on about having calculated that I still had an hour before her arrival, and had been side-tracked at the very point of leaping into the bath. There are no satisfactory excuses. No one behaves like I did, or if they do they don't get caught!