None of this would’ve happened if I wasn’t such a gosh-darn thoughtful guy.
See, the week before Thanksgiving was purely no fun for Lance: he worked several long days all in an effort to be able to take off Black Friday without using a vacation day, those being particularly scarce ever since our trip to Japan.
When Lance works a long day, he makes it known. Like, you can’t have a conversation with him that doesn’t begin and end with “OMG ME SLEEPY!!!” or “I worked a 14-hour day, so I shouldn’t be expected to put my dirty ice cream bowls in the dishwasher.”
Usually in these cases, I think to myself, “Oh please, stop being such a baby.” This time, however, I tried to remind myself that part of the reason Lance was doing all this was so that we’d be able to go to my parents’ house in Michigan (which is a not insignificant distance from southeastern Pennsylvania) for Thanksgiving. So, I happily sucked it up and scrubbed all the congealed globs of Snickers ice cream out of the bowls in the kitchen sink. ALL WITH A SMILE ON MY FACE.
On the Friday of said week, we (read: I, with an extra ticket for Lance) planned on going to see the Hush Sound at the TLA in Philadelphia; they hadn’t performed together in years and I loved that band in college. Well, given that the tickets were only $15 a piece and since, you know, my lil’ guy was having such a rough week at work, I decided to just skip this concert and not force Lance into going. He needed the opportunity to wind down and relax, not spend a whole night in the city, right?
Lance then informed me later that week that he was going into the city on Friday to set up a work event, and then he was going to grab a drink with his best friend, Romina. Okay, fine, I thought. Had I known he would’ve been in the city and not at his suburban office that Friday, maybe I wouldn’t have cancelled the concert, but it was just a couple of drinks and he’d still be home before the concert even started.
So Lance went and had his drinks, and I was just sitting at home with the furry friends, fully expecting a phone call around 7:00 or 8:00PM telling me that he’s on the train home.
9:00PM rolled around, and still no phone call. I got a text saying that he’s still out with Romina, but that’s it.
10:00PM, then 11:00, then midnight, and nothing. I’ll admit that I was being a little passive aggressive at this point and didn’t text him to see what was going on. I mean, I didn’t want to be that hovering husband anyway, but fine, whatever, you want to spend the whole evening out in the city, fine, I don’t care.
Even though in my mind, Lance had obviously drank himself into such a stupor that he must’ve stumbled into the local gay leather bar (the Bike Stop!) and was subsequently passed around like a jar of honey in a bear cave. Of course that’s the most logical possibility.
Just after midnight, I started drifting to sleep. I had my phone next to me, so when Lance called to let me know he was on his way home, I’d hear it, hop into the car, and pick him up from the train station. No biggie.
I roll over at some point and Craig Ferguson is on. It’s 1:15AM.
The last train out of the city was supposed to get to our town at 1:10AM, so Lance must’ve been waiting, FURIOUSLY, at the train station, outside in the cold, for at least five minutes.
I checked my phone, though, and no missed calls. Just a text message from half an hour before saying he was on the train. I called him back, a little frantic, checking to see if he was at the train station already, but it went straight to voicemail. BAH!
I tumbled into a coat and shoes and flew out the door, making it to the train station around 1:25AM. There’s nobody there.
“LANCE!” I yelled, in a super-masculine tone (as if that’s possible with a name like “Lance.” Pssh.) “LANCE!” Nothing.
I waited around for another few minutes, then hopped back into the car, thinking maybe he’s so angry at me that he’d stubbornly tried to walk home in the 30-degree weather, at night, just to make some sort of statement about how I’m just an unreliable husband.
Following the most obvious walking path home, Lance was nowhere to be found. I stopped back at the apartment, thinking that perhaps in a drunken haze, he had hitchhiked home and I would find his violated corpse on our doorstep. Nope, nothing there either.
I headed back to the station, stopping at the Wawa (locked; somehow the only Wawa convenience store that isn’t open 24 hours) and the bar near the tracks (also closed) to see if maybe Lance sought some sort of refuge from the cold in either place. Nothing.
I went back and forth again along the path from the train station to the house, and I started to panic. He was nowhere to be found, and that was the last train out of the city. Had he missed the train and decided to go home with one of the furry leather bear daddies he met at the Bike Stop? Was he passed out at Market East Station in the city, where he would assuredly get peed on by a bum? Where was he and why wasn’t he picking up his phone??
It was after 2:00AM at this point, and I didn’t know what else to do except call the cops. I knew that they couldn’t do much; it’d only been like an hour, so obviously we couldn’t file a missing persons report, but maybe they could help contact SEPTA (the commuter rail company) and see if maybe he was asleep on the train and was at the end of the line or something. Maybe they had some tricks up their sleeves in finding well-dressed bodies on the side of the road, dead from hypothermia and excessive bear poisoning.
Soon after I called 9-1-1, a cop arrived at the station and I quickly told him the story.
“I just don’t know where he is,” I said, not teary so much as oddly, panick-y articulate. “He’s not picking up his phone or answering texts. This is really unlike him.”
“Now, what’s your relation to this person?” asked the cop.
“He’s my partner,” I responded, not quite sure which vocabulary word was going to get me the most empathic response.
“Err…,” the cop paused. “Do you mean like a business partner or a life-partner. You know, ’cause it doesn’t matter or anything…”
“Life partner,” I said. Don’t patronize me, you son of a bitch!! What the hell would I be doing calling the cops at 2:00AM on a Saturday trying to find my business partner? Oh no, he had the recipe book for our Quizno’s Sub franchise and I just don’t know what to do without him!!!
“Well, there’s not much we can do right now,” said the cop, explaining the details about missing persons cases. “Why don’t you keep looking and call us back in about an hour?”
“Uh, okay,” I stammered, taken aback a little by the total lack of an effort to help search at all. I mean, what else were these guys in the middle of Suburbia, Pennsylvania doing at 2:00AM?
I hopped back in the car and followed the path back home again, thinking maybe I just missed Lance the first two times I drove by, all the while knowing that it only takes about 40 minutes to do the walk, so he obviously should’ve been home at that point.
Rounding the corner into our apartment complex, I saw Lance shivering, standing out on the sidewalk. He was alive!!
“Where the hell were you?” I asked, my voice cracking from a mix of panic and relief.
“I fell asleep on the train and missed the stop.” Ahh, well, that obvious scenario didn’t ever really occur to me.
“I tried to call you a bunch of times but you never picked up,” I said.
“Yeah, my phone died on my way home. Stupid iPhones can’t even last 18 hours!” said Lance, a point which is completely valid.
So, Lance, without a means to contact me, walked home from the next train stop at 1:20 in the morning, which thankfully isn’t too much further away from our house than the original stop. He, being Lance, also assumed he didn’t need to carry any house keys on him since I’d be home all night and would be picking him up from the train station anyway, so he stood out in the cold, in a windbreaker, for 20 minutes before I came back to check and see if he was there.
I was so relieved that he was okay that I didn’t much care whether or not he found some daddy bear at the Bike Stop (he was apparently “at dinner and just lost track of time until 12:30AM after working a 60-hour week.” Yeah, right!)
But if I had just made Lance go to the concert…