Is the above statement the story of your life? It’s the mantra for those who constantly misplace things. Are you one of them?
Today I murmured it when I couldn’t find a shopping bag filled with costumes that I promised to alter for an upcoming school play. They showed up in my car’s trunk after my husband had moved it from the back seat. Yesterday I said it when I couldn’t find the cottage cheese, which was right in front of me on the top refrigerator shelf, and the peanut butter, which was not on its usual shelf. Last week it was my wallet, which had been left at my desk when I ordered a book from Amazon.
Not long ago I was talking with our daughter Rachel from California, and I was trying to wrap up the call so I could get to an appointment. While I talked I bounced like a pinball around the house, searching every room, drawer, pocket and countertop for my cell phone, cursing my absent-mindedness. “It must be around here somewhere,” I kept saying. My frustration mounted, and casting aside my vow to keep my language clean in front of my kids, I blurted out to Rachel, “I can’t find my damn cell phone!” again and again — before I finally realized that the cell phone, not the land phone, was stuck to my ear.
A few years ago another cell phone went missing, this time for a solid week. The last time I had used it was when I was mailing a pair of shoes that my son Ryan had sold on E-Bay. I checked my pockets, my car, the garage floor, even called the Post Office. I was ready to report it as missing but I knew “It must be around here somewhere.”
Then one day the land line rang. “Hi,” said an unknown voice, “I bought your son’s shoes on E-Bay and a cell phone was in the package with them.”
Other things that have gone missing — thankfully temporarily — include bills due this week, hefty checks from my husband’s business clients, important school paperwork, school projects, notes for my work projects. Most of these disappear from the Bermuda Triangle of our house: the kitchen counter. I have a pathological aversion to cluttering it because I am fearful of appearing disorganized to random visitors, so any piles left on the counter migrate to a bigger pile of stuff that has been cleared from it — only I forget where that pile is.
“I can’t be responsible for anything that is left on the counter!” I’ve been known to thunder to my family. So my countertop may look like a pristine tundra but our closets, drawers and cabinets look like an episode of “Hoarders.” My mother-in-law, a compulsive organizer, is the yin to my yang.
I try to conceal my absentmindedness from my husband Bob, who always teases me by quoting our favorite line from that raunchy old TV cartoon, “Ren and Stimpy”:
Of course, Bob has his Stimpy moments as well. At least once a week I hear him scream, “Where the f*** is my g**-d*** (fill in the blank)?” For some reason I have no problem coolly tracking down any item that Bob can’t find; my absentmindedness somehow kicks in only when I am responsible for misplacing it. Indeed, Bob’s missing item is usually staring us in the face, a fact that I always relish pointing out. Bob is outwardly messy but is a human GPS for every scrap of paper, mysterious computer cable or obscure widget under his purview; his problem is that he melts down on the rare occasions when his tracking system breaks down.
That reminds me: We once had a magnetic word kit that let us make witty phrases on the refrigerator door, and our son Ben once affixed the words “no” and “patience” to a photo of Bob. Those words anchored Bob’s photo to the refrigerator for years and provided countless hours of family mirth. The rest of the magnetic words disappeared a long time ago, although I know they must be around here somewhere.
Most people raised Catholic will appreciate that my patron saint is St. Anthony, heaven’s version of Allan Pinkerton, who can make anything lost re-appear. He seldom fails me but usually makes me sweat first. I have a frequent buyer card with St. A., and it has been stamped often enough to redeem for Jimmy Hoffa’s body.
Am I losing my mind? Maybe…but it must be around here somewhere. How about you?