Cambrian: Slice of Life

BEST OF: A losing proposition

Sometimes, my life is like an empty stapler: It functions well enough if I can just find the things I need to make it work.

I can lose things while sitting at my computer, not moving, not even breathing heavily. Gee, I had something a few seconds ago, and now it’s gone. Poof!

I’m convinced the very same items I keep losing really are conspiring against me, running and hiding as soon as my brain waves start searching for them. Lately, I’ve had hints that even my wardrobe is part of the plot to make me think I’m losing my mind as readily as I misplace everything else.

For instance, my pockets hate me.

Yes, pockets, those little pouches sewn into the seams of your jeans and jackets. You know, where you hide your Altoids? Just think back to the last time something important fell out of your pocket. Did you automatically think, ‘Oh, it fell out of my pocket, I may have lost something important, but I’m not crazy. Whew!”?

No, of course not. You drove yourself batty trying to figure out where you’d misplaced the item.

The situation gives a whole new slant to the phrase “out of pocket.”

Recently, I spent the better part of a week trying to find a small lined pad filled with important interview notes and reminders. I went back to everywhere and anywhere I might have set down the notebook, or filed it away. I even rummaged through the trash, thinking I’d tossed the little book during one of my semi-annual fits of “let’s see what the dining table really looks like when it’s out from under all that stuff.”

The notebook wasn’t any of those places, and I was ready for a full mental overhaul when I got an overstuffed envelope in the mail from my doctor’s office.

Ohmigosh. See, I hadn’t set the notebook down somewhere: It fell out of my pocket at the doctor’s office, and eventually they figured out whose it was and mailed it back to me.

Thanks, doc, for saving my sanity. This time.

My jacket pockets are especially unreliable. They’re the wearable equivalent of the gap between the padded frame and the couch cushions, where the little Peter Pans of the material world scurry away to play hide-and-seek.

Oh sure. You say it’s simple to solve. If I can’t find my glasses, favorite pen, car keys, pillbox, or that business card from the person whose name I can’t remember just check my jacket.

But it’s not what I lost yesterday that upsets me. The things I lost in or from pockets last week or last month are what really drive me bonkers.

Just check the jacket, you repeat? That’s a daunting task, because I’m a jacket junkie. I don’t just have one or two jackets to check. If I could remember which jacket I had on the day I lost whatever it is, I could remember where I put the thing I lost, don’t you see?

Why don’t I ask husband Richard? (Hysterical laughter). Silly person. It would never work. First, he has a hard enough finding his own pocket droppings. And just what do you think would happen if any wife asked her husband what she was wearing two weeks ago Thursday?

Say, you catch on fast!

Besides, these malevolent pockets are harder on him than they are on me. Why, just last week, he had to carbon-date a packet of batteries in the pocket of a shirt he hadn’t worn for years! And remember when we washed an MP3 player that was buried in his jeans’ pocket? Certainly didn’t improve the sound quality. “Splish Splash” actually gurgled.

At least when I leave something in a jacket pocket, it doesn’t wind up affecting a bunch of other jackets.

Husband Richard is the pocket-dreck king: A cap-less purple felt-tip pen in the pocket of pale gray slacks; a formerly full pill bottle in his fleece vest; a red sock in a white shirt pocket. No, I don’t know why he had a sock in his pocket. We’re talking male logic here. I can’t explain it, but I do know how we wound up with an “I Love Lucy” style load of pink laundry.

What does he leave in his pockets most often? The remnants of facial tissues. That wouldn’t be such problem if he’d remember to take the tissues out before putting the pockets and the garments they’re attached to in the laundry hamper.

Yes, it can snow at 75 degrees.

Do you know how much soggy confetti there is buried in just one hidden Kleenex that’s gone through wash-spin-and-dry cycles? We’re talking parade time down Fifth Avenue.

And just imagine what that shredded tissue can do to three pairs of jeans, two corduroy shirts, a velour cardigan, three towels and a nubby sweatshirt that shared the wash load. They all wind up looking like sheep shorn during a windstorm by someone in a blindfold.

But I digress, as usual. And, about my life’s-stapler metaphor? Until I find the *&^%$)(#@ staples, the stapler’s nothing but a really ugly paperweight.

Every other week, this blog reprises one of Kathe Tanner's columns from the past 30 years. This column ran first on April 14, 2005, in The Cambrian, where her biweekly columns still appear.