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November 25, 2009 / Maleesha Kovnesky

The Doorknob Came Right Off

Some years I like to do a Thankful Post here on Binary Trash.  Writing a Thankful Post would be the right thing to do.  After all, it’s Thanksgiving weekend and this is the one week where we are publicly encouraged to be thankful.  Wave flags on the Fourth.  Hug veterans on Veteran’s Day.  Be thankful on Thanksgiving. 

I’m not feeling thankful about anything in particular.  I don’t want you to think that means I am ungrateful.  This is kind of hard to explain, but if you have ever been low, or down, or had the blues, you know what I’m saying.  I’m grateful for lots of things but I can’t seem to quantify anything in list fashion at the moment.  I just know that if you asked me a decade ago where I would be in 2009, I wouldn’t have had an answer for you.  Not even a wild-ass guess.  So I am grateful (read: thankful) for all of the surprises and adventures thus far.  I just can’t put them in writing because the very act of doing so seems to negate their importance to me, as if me writing them down would make it all disappear.

So instead of writing a Thankful Post, just know that deep down it’s all good here in Montana and instead of being warm and fuzzy and covered with bluebirds, I am going to tell you about the time the doorknob came right off.


I was seventeen and my boyfriend was nineteen and I was going to eat dinner at his parent’s house for Thanksgiving.  It was a big deal because this day was the day that I would meet the whole family.  I had already met his parents and sister “Mel”, but they were a tight-knit extended family and I knew I had to make a good impression.  This evening would consist of folded napkins, proper manners, me resisting my primal urge to reach across the table to grab things.  There would be favorite aunts, grandparents, cousins, uncles, and I would get to meet them all.  If only you all knew how I had held a fork back in those days…you would understand my concerns.  But I was ready for the night.  I had my game face on. 

I dressed up (most likely in a sweater).  I imagine that he picked me up (I don’t really remember the logistics) and when I entered the house, two tables had been pushed together and disguised as one with fancy tablecloth positioning strategery.  Candles! were set up everywhere.  There may have even been nice music playing.  The home was filled with a mesmerizing combination of olfactory delights; roasting turkey, pumpkin pie, Old Spice.

I started to meet the family.  I got lots of the usual questions…where did you get a name like that?  What do your parents do?  Where are you going to college?  I had answers for all of the questions!  I even got a few polite laughs!  I think a grandparent leaned over to my boyfriend and said something like What a nice girl you found. 

Finally dinner was ready and the twenty-plus guests started to wrap up the conversation.  I had just a few minutes to go to the bathroom.  I zipped in, bathroom-ed, and the flushed. 

The toilet wouldn’t flush.  Awkward.  Sure, there was just a big wad of TP in there spinning around with nowhere to go, but you know how it goes when the toilet doesn’t flush?  You just know someone is coming in right behind you, and they are going to see you were the last one in there, and think you are some degenerate born in a barn type who forgets to flush.  Or worse, is just too lazy to flush.  This could not happen.  Not at the Thanksgiving dinner.  So I attempted to get the TP to go down.  It was an older house, but surely there was a little life left in this potty!  I flushed again.  I took the tank cover off and experimented with the various floats and levers inside.  I found myself rolling up the sleeves of my sweater.  In the distance, I could hear that people were still milling about. 

After several failed attempts at flushing, I washed my hands and decided that the TP was just never going to go down.  I would find my BF immediately, and tell him that I tried.  I dried my hands on a towel and focused on turkey.  Here we go, turkey!

The bathroom doorknob came right off in my hand.  I was still inside the locked bathroom, now holding the doorknob.  I heard the jovial banter floating in from the dining room.  The music was still playing. 

I squatted and poked my finger in the doorknob-hole.  I tried to grab the bottom of the door but my fingers got squished between the door and the carpet.  There was nothing to grab.  Surely there was a way out.  I looked at the window.  It was screened in and there was no way I was getting out of it due to the height.  I searched the medicine cabinet for tweezers, nail clippers, anything I could use to MacGyver my way out.  Nothing. 

It seemed like ten minutes went by.  I could yell and shout, but then the whole party would know I was locked in the bathroom, and no seventeen year old girl wants the whole party to know she is locked in the bathroom.  More time went by.  People started quieting down.  Surely someone would come look for me.  Anyone?

I probably cried a little. 

Finally I heard my BF’s sister Mel.  Her voice seemed closer than the others.  She must be nearing the general vicinity of the bathroom.

“MEL!” I whispered loudly.

She didn’t hear me. 

“MEL!  MEL!! ” I said a bit louder.

“What?  Who’s calling me?” she said.  Then she asked loudly, “Where’s Maleesha?”

“I’m IN HERE!” I said, even louder. 

“Where?  Where are you!?”  She was getting closer.

“I’m in the bathroom!  I’m stuck in the bathroom!” I was yelling now.

Mel was now right outside the door.  “Just open it,” she said.  “Turn the knob!”

“I CAN’T TURN THE KNOB!” I yelled.

“Why can’t you turn the knob?” she asked.

“Because I’m holding the knob!”


“The knob fell off the door!”


Oh crap.

Suddenly I could hear the party nearing.  The music stopped playing.  There were now at least a dozen voices nearby.  I backed away from the door.  BF’s dad was knocking now.  “You stuck?”

“Yes.  I am stuck,” I said.

He asked me to try a few things, but nothing worked. 

“I have to go get my tools,” he said. 


And there you have it. 

I got locked in the bathroom during an important Thanksgiving dinner, and the dinner was postponed for about forty-five minutes, because my boyfriend’s dad ended up having to remove the whole damn door, hinges and all, in order for me to get out.  And the rest of the guests had to use a bathroom with a blanket nailed over the entrance because there wasn’t time to repair the door when the turkey was getting cold. 

The laughter was frequent that evening, and the jokes lasted for years. 

Come to think of it, this story reminds me that I am thankful for a sense of humor.




Leave a Comment
  1. bluesuit12 / Dec 1 2009 5:26 pm

    Didn’t you write about another bathroom door/stall incident once? This is a great story and I think your sense of humor rocks.

  2. Taoist Biker / Dec 1 2009 1:27 pm

    Agreed – although it surely sucked at the time, at least it gave you a fantastic story and a basis of comparison for every other awkward situation in your life.

    “Well, at least the doorknob didn’t come off.”

  3. David / Nov 30 2009 9:30 am

    Oh this was a FINE Thanksgiving post Maleesha! What a nice recollection. And we all know that the toilet/doorknob situation could have been SO much more embarrassing!

  4. morethananelectrician / Nov 27 2009 7:28 am

    Situations like that, as awkward as they were when the occur, make for wonderful stories all these years later.

    Although I don’t think it can be done consciously…keep that sense of humor, I think it can be the most valuable way to keep your sanity in an insane world.


  5. Ian / Nov 26 2009 6:31 am

    I’m sorry you’re feeling bluesy. I’m thankful for all your help with my website, and thankful that we met those years ago at the PPWC. 🙂

    • maleesha / Nov 29 2009 8:03 am

      Thank you dear! I’ll be back to my old, ridiculous self in short order!

  6. Fawn / Nov 25 2009 10:21 pm

    I, too, am thankful for your sense of humour. I hear ya on the blues, hon, I even wrote some of the tunes.

    But damn, that is one good story.

    One question: how did anyone else use the bathroom, blanket or no blanket, when it wouldn’t flush? 😉

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