There are people who miss the days when company used to just drop by but as an adult, I look back and wonder if it was only the kids who really liked it.
I’m rarely dressed appropriately for company, and working from home doesn’t mean I’m at home doing nothing. We live in different times, with a phone at the end of most arms, so drive-by visits usually come with an announcement. I do want to see you; I just want to know that I’m going to see you.
I suppose surprise visits would make me keep a tidier house, but I still recall my mother stopping like a deer in the headlights if someone knocked on the door unannounced. She would drop everything, snap off her apron, fix her hair and put on the kettle. Anything she was doing stopped.
I recall her gamely insisting people should stay for dinner, and then watching her magically make a dinner, planned for five, double. I look back and think only one thing: why? Why do friends and family do this to each other? In olden times, people actually did just drive around on Sundays and not have phones. These are not olden times.
I stopped by Pammy and Christer’s apartment the other day. It was his birthday, and I was scooting out for some groceries. I didn’t have my phone, but I knew he was home because I’d spoken to him an hour before. I simply decided to let my kid give me a spontaneous hug for giving birth to him, because birthdays should always be about the one who had the most pain.
I knocked on their door. All I heard was Alfie begin barking. I waited. Nothing.
I knocked again, knowing the layout of their home makes it difficult for them to hear.
Alfie, in the meantime, continued to lose his mind. He loves Mama Lorraine. More knocking, more nothing, more Alfie.
I could hear voices, so I knocked louder and yelled that it was me. Alfie answered in a higher pitch. I finally gave up and shoved the door open an inch.
“Alfie, shut up. Get back here,” Pammy yelled.
“It’s me! I want to say happy birthday to Christopher!”
“Is that my mother? I think that’s Mom,” I heard Christopher say.
Finally both kids came to the door, as Alfie nearly wet himself with joy.
“Why didn’t you just come in?” asked Pammy.
“I don’t do that,” I replied.
They’d given me a key when they moved in. It sits carefully on the counter in case one of them needs it.
“Don’t be dumb. Just come in,” said Christopher.
“I can’t. Like I can’t open your mail. I can’t just barge in your house,” I said.
Or watch them enter passwords, or scroll through their pictures, or read over their shoulder. (Note: never, ever scroll through the pictures on anyone’s phone. That is just rude.)
Pammy started giggling. “You’re so weird. Just come in.”
By this point Alfie was leaping around like I was covered in pepperoni. I let him snuggle me because I needed someone to be glad I’d shown up.
“From now on, if you come over, just come in,” said Christopher. “I mean, why wouldn’t you?”
“What if you were having birthday sex? I would not want to know that,” I replied.
“Ew,” said Pammy.
Christopher did a little grimace.
Well, they asked.