Saturday, March 26, 2005

I Once Was Lost, But Now Am Found.

Let me introduce you to the ritual dance Consort and I do before either of us leaves the house:

First, we move toward the door in a purposeful manner. If you have never met us, you would think “Why, those are people about to leave this house”.

You would be wrong, as the minute either one of our hands touches door wood, we freeze. Consort scowls, I look vacant. Each person proceeds to pat their own hips, backside and pectoral area with a thoroughness that, were we doing it to someone else, would be described as “groping” or might require a Miranda recitation.

Then, each of us pivots and walks through the house touching every single object located on a horizontal surface, moving it slightly, looking under it, putting it down and then looking under it again. We move through the entire house in this manner, growing increasingly frantic and obscene, mumbling things like “I just saw it” and “Why can’t anything stay in one (expletive deleted) place” and “I’m not asking for eternal life; I am asking to find these (long string of deleted expletives trailing away into a grumble)”.

Having walked through the entire house, we find ourselves back at the front door, at which point we do the exact same thing again. Very rarely does either person move anything he hasn’t already moved. Mostly, we move the same objects over and over again, with increasing noise and agitation, until something catches our eye next to the butter-dish, which is inexplicably on the television. At that point, the person lets out a roar of triumph and clutching his glasses (Consort) or her keys (Me), leaps from the house as if released from prison.

While each dance has certain similarities, a trained eye notices the unique flourishes each performer brings to it. My Dance of Loss and Redemption is not a solo piece. Daughter trails behind me, my own little Greek Chorus.

“You’ve lost your keys again”

“I am aware of that, sweetheart”

“You lose them every day”

“Also aware of that”

“Maybe you should put them someplace that is easy to find”

“WHAT A WONDERFUL SUGGESTION. CAN YOU PLEASE GO CHECK YOUR SOCK DRAWER?”

The situation with my keys is nothing less than physical proof of poltergeists. I know I am a little hectic and vague, but the places my keys end up being found is less an indication of poor organizational skills than a capricious and possibly malevolent spirit toying with me. It’s not as if I walk into the house and think “Hey, you know what makes sense? Putting my keys in the soap holder in the shower. Then I’ll put the bar soap into the dog’s food bin, and the dog’s pills in my lingerie drawer, and LET THE FUN BEGIN!”….

When I am running around the house like a caffeinated squirrel, I cannot use logic to find my keys. I have to use surrealism. Where would the most striking and ill-conceived place to put my keys be? In the wading pool which has been hibernating behind the trash cans since last summer? No, but there is a black-widow spider the size of a salad plate and my dress pumps back there. Are the keys in the steamer trunk of dress-up clothes in Daughter’s room? No, but there is a potato peeler and a car air-freshener shaped like the Playboy Bunny. Oh, look, the keys were in with the boxes of 2001 tax receipts that haven’t been opened since they showed up last month. Clever, imaginative poltergeist!

Consort’s game is a little wilder, because he has more possibilities in his game. Consort has (I take in a deep breath): reading glasses, driving glasses, driving glasses that allow him to read maps, reading glasses that allow him to drive short distances, sports glasses, glasses that are scratched and worn but still good enough for cleaning the garage, and glasses that keep him from falling down while walking the dog but aren’t clear enough to let him see what he is picking up in the plastic bag. If Consort meets the former Undersecretary of Health and Human Services socially, he has a pair of glasses for that. If he meets the former Undersecretary in a business capacity, I believe that requires a different pair of glasses.

So, when he is touching the door the question is not: “Gosh, do I have my glasses?” The question is: “I need to go to Home Depot and buy a drill bit, so do I need my ‘Looking at microscopic numbers on hardware parts’ glasses”, or: “Do I need my ‘parking in a lot where no one cares about their car’ glasses?”.

This is a game, sadly, that he must play alone, as only he understands the subtle gradations among the numberless hordes of eyeglasses which dwell in my house. As penguin mothers have no problem identifying their bit of gray fluff from the hundreds of other penguin babies, Consort is the only person in this house who knows one pair of black-framed glasses in a black carrying case from another. In more cynical moments, I have wondered if his optometrist is just selling him the same prescription over and over again. But who am I to take away the pleasure of finding his “Looking at paint chips and driving to the airport” glasses?

Who I am I to take this process away from either of us? It has its own charm. First I get the stress and the fear of “Will I ever find these keys? What kind of jackass loses their keys six times a week? What kind of stupid jackass loses their keys six times a week and fails to make copies?”. I’m irritated, I’m disgusted with myself, but you have no idea how alive draining the sandbox through a spaghetti colander makes you feel.

And then I find the keys, and the day gets shiny and loaded with potential. It is the closest thing I have to a roller-coaster ride every day and, unlike a real roller-coaster, there is no danger of soft-tissue damage to my neck. I eat more Rolaids than someone my age usually does but, luckily, I rarely lose those.

4 Comments:

Blogger soundman said...

I can't believe that this stupid site erased my original reply. I'll try again. I can't believe that no one replied to this post. As I've said before, I read 'em all, and I think this is one of the highlights.

I've been going backwards through your posts reading comments that I miss the first time because I always read your stuff before anyone has a chance to reply. I'm surprised that there are so few, but curious to see what the Newsweek thing does to that. Along those lines, this is a really wild guess, but do you have a cousin who is a professional bassoonist? That would really be too weird.

My best to you, your daughter, and your insane Consort; en

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Kate said...

Excellent! Though I am starting to wonder if you are actually my cousin who lives up North...the resemblance is a little scary. I keep sending her e-mails telling her to read your blog. She replies to all my e-mails but those, thus increasing my suspicion. Are you sure you live in CA?

7:36 PM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

I'm pale, I dislike the beach and I am not an actress. And yet, I live in L.A.

8:09 PM  
Anonymous FurBabyMom said...

Quinn, you are my newfound source of sheer laughter...I can't believe how consistently hysterically funny you are!! OMG, I wish you were my neighbor! One of my best friends lives in your neighborhood, and I sort of hope I run in to you sometime when visiting her (maybe at the grocery store?!!) so I can thank you in person for all the laughter you're giving me. I also can't believe that I didn't know about your blog sooner...like three years ago when you started it! I'm trying to catch up and make up for lost time. I hope you don't get sick of hearing me tell you how funny and great you are, but it's hard to resist posting a compliment after I finish reading an entry and find myself grinning ear to ear. I'm already looking forward to your reading your book! :-)

6:25 PM  

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