Wednesday, August 29, 2007

This thing of ours.

The kilt arrived in a box of barely-worn clothing from a friend with a taste for chic, classic clothing and a daughter who grew quickly. Daughter put on the kilt and she and I both grinned in girlish glee. The kilt had been designed by a European children’s clothing company, and somehow managed to be absolutely traditional and yet somehow scream “French!”; the smell of freshly-baked baguettes seemed to waft off of it.

Daughter twirled in her new skirt and I planned. This would be her church outfit for fall, maybe even her Christmas picture outfit. We’d use her brown buckle shoes, white knee-highs, the white ruffled shirt she already had, and over the top would be a classic Fair Isle yoke, three-button sweater. I’d have to buy the sweater, but that would be easy; it’s a classic sweater, everyone makes them, and there were enough colors in the skirt that I could choose whichever Fair Isle was the easiest and—dare I say?—cheapest. I could see the ensemble so clearly that for a moment it wasn’t August and nearly a hundred degrees; I nearly suggested to Daughter that we make cocoa.

I started with the obvious stores; Talbots, Lands End, LL Bean. Talbots had two forms of argyle sweater, but no Fair Isle. No worries, I thought, I’ve got nothing but time, patience, and a long supply of preppy stores. LL Bean had no Fair Isle, but did have several sweaters outstandingly suitable for tailgate parties, maple-syrup gathering, and living in a John Cheever short story. They did have a rather handsome fisherman’s sweater, which would have looked cute with the kilt, but I eschewed it on the grounds that Daughter would declare it “A boy’s sweater” and would have worn it only if allowed to balance out its egregious masculinity with pink plastic mules and hair extensions. Land’s End hurt me; they had something which was very nearly a Fair Isle sweater, and something they called a Fair Isle, which wasn’t, and had the pattern in the wrong place. It was as if the designers at Land’s End thought “We’re all so bored with the standards, let’s take our customers out of their comfort zone.”

I don’t know how to tell you this, designers of Land’s End children’s clothing, but you’re working for Land’s End. I know some of your friends got jobs at Calvin Klein or Alexander McQueen, but you are working for a company dedicated to the fashion-phobic. We shoppers of Land’s End like our clothing the way we like our cuisine; clear, unfussy, capable of being recognized at a distance and described in less than five words. I didn’t want a post-modern interpretation of the classic, I wanted the original goods. A reinterpreted Fair Isle is nothing more than Cary Grant in a wife-beater and manpris.

I sulked. The kilt hung in Daughter’s closet, a woolen, pleated reminder of my failings.

I was complaining to another mother at camp pick-up, and she nodded knowingly. “Yeah, I’ve had that experience,” she said as children swarmed around us, a feral tribe bedecked in poster paint, mud and lunch. “Last year, I decided Rebecca had to have a toggle coat with a furry lining. Just a nice, classic toggle coat, like you’ve seen your entire life. A Paddington coat. It became a thing.”

Daughter stood next to me, grubby and happy. I looked at her hands, which were empty. “Sweetie, are you missing anything?” She thought and shook her head no. “Let me give you a hint,” I suggested, “Swimsuit, towel, lunch-box, thermos, any art projects you made today and your other shoe.” Daughter dashed back into camp, and I continued our conversation.

“Did you ever find the coat?” I asked nervously, suddenly totally convinced that if her story hadn’t ended well, it boded badly for my great hunt. She said blandly,“Oh, sure…eventually.” This was an “Eventually” as in “…eventually, nuclear waste stops being so darn toxic and you can plant vegetables in it safely.” I was given no assurance this sweater would come to me easily.

But that’s the thing about A Thing; you don’t just buy it, you earn it. The nature of A Thing is that it must be deceptively simple; a toggle coat, a Fair Isle sweater. In the case of another friend of mine, a striped shirt of a particular width of stripe and shade of blue. You’re not asking for a brief glimpse beyond the veil between life and death, you’re asking for a pair of red corduroy pants. You’ve seen them before, you know you’ve seen them before; you just need to find them.

This leads to the darker side of searching for A Thing; nothing less than the original Thing will do. They can’t be brick-red corduroy pants, they must be the cherry-red which will pick up the minor color in the sweater you got on sale last season (Side note: A sale item frequently precedes and then figures into the need for A Thing. I have no idea why this is). The stripe must be just the right width and the blue a perfect royal blue. Just because the pursuer doesn’t own it doesn’t mean they don’t know exactly what it looks like.

The Thing is usually clothing, but not always; in the early seventies, my mother knew her living room needed a leaf-green couch. She knew this through an entire year of shopping, her desire for it and her belief in its existence not even slightly diminished by every furniture store’s insistence that she was asking for the furnishings equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster:

SALESPERSON: Can I help you?

QUINN’S MOTHER: Yes, I’m looking for a leaf-green couch.

(Salesperson stares at her in shock.)

SALESPERSON: That doesn’t exist.

QM: Well, can you look in the fabric sample books?

SALESPERSON: I don’t have to, I can tell you. No one has ever made a leaf-green couch in the history of the world. In fact, until now, no one has ever used the phrase “Leaf-green couch”.

QM: Humor me. Let’s look through the fabric sample books anyway.

SALESPERSON: Sure, I’ll bring out the sample book from the whole Fictional Furniture line!

She got her couch…eventually, as my friend found her Paddington coat…eventually. I think the Thing ultimately gets tired of the chase and allows itself to get caught. In the meanwhile, while my mother hunted, I had a spacious and nearly-empty living room in which to ride my tricycle.

Two years later, when she was on a hunt for another obscure object of desire, my mother noticed there was at least one leaf-green couch at every furniture store in the city. Had she managed to convince the manufacturers that there was this unmet need for leaf-green couches, this army of consumers storming the gates, screaming for blood and light-green sofas? Once again, a female member of my family has made noise all out of proportion to her size.

As of today, I have looked at no fewer than thirty-five websites in search of the sweater. I have found exactly two classic Fair Isle sweaters. One is from Ralph Lauren and it’s got an “RL” monogram the size of a coaster on the front of it. If Daughter is wearing something with “RL” on it, it will be because her initial are RL, which they are not. At Ralph’s prices, I’m not advertising for him as well. The other is from Best and Company and costs ninety-eight dollars. The only way Daughter gets a ninety-eight dollar sweater is if she lives in a display case and signs a notarized document promising not to grow.

I have preppy moms investigating for me in the South and the Northeast; two areas I suspect are more likely to produce classic children’s clothing than Los Angeles, the place which gave the world formal hot pants. I have a search flag for “Fair Isle sweaters” on EBay, otherwise known as The Mall of Buyer’s Remorse. So far, all EBay has taught me is that “Fair Isle” is a concept used freely and understood rarely by sellers. I grow cranky, but my standards do not waver. I see this thing. It is a three-button, Fair Isle-yoked sweater. It doesn’t involve sequins or hoods; it isn’t backless. It’s timeless and it’s pretty and someone has to be making it. Eventually, I will find it.

And when I do, think of how great she’ll look in it at her high-school graduation.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pictures Of Lilly

Some days, a person just doesn't want to write. Some days, a person wants to sit around and read her Lilly Pulitzer catalogue and sneer at blog-writing. [It's been humid. Humidity makes me sneer]. And some days a person reads a catalogue and thinks: "Say! I could read the catalogue and write about it at the same time! And then I could convince my readers we all needed matching Tailgate Totes!”

But cooler heads prevailed. I decided to stick with reading and commenting.

Behold the neo-traditional American family: attractive child, attractive dog, attractive mother, attractive manny. Notice how our young manny is dressed from top to toe in Lilly; something tells me these clothes were originally purchased for Daddy, a Bronx-bred investment banker who swore to his wife he'd never wear "That f**king preppy sh*t". Something tells me the manny does a lot of things Daddy doesn't do. You doubt me? Look at Mummy's expression and tell me she's attending Bible Study on those weekends Daddy doesn't make it out to the Hamptons. Eventually, the manny runs away to Los Angeles, a place with a deep appreciation of a wavy-haired manny. Within weeks, he becomes the live-in lover of a much-older female producer who arranges for him to star in a hit sci-fi series about a misunderstood stranger from out of town who can bend time with his abdominal muscles. Meanwhile, the dog is so preppy that his very leash is a Lilly Pulitzer tie. Anything else gives him a neck rash.

I’m not a misogynist. I don’t believe all the women in Lillyland are devious adulterers. Some women in the Lilly Pulitzer catalogue are thoughtful. This woman, for example, is thinking. She's thinking "Does our very death render our lives meaningless?" She's also thinking "Sure, my family owns most of Palm Beach, but shouldn't I do something more with the advantages given to me? Is it enough to be blonde, lovely and nauseatingly rich?" This anomie can be easily alleviated. Darling, the gin-and-tonic is by your right thigh.

This picture was taken during what's known in the entertainment industry as "The Magic Hour", or the last half-hour before dusk (The other half of the Magic Hour is right after dawn, in case you are curious). The light of that time of day gives everyone a golden, beatific glow. Oddly enough, so does good gin and a sizable trust fund. Focus on their golden youth, and try not to notice the puzzling effect of Wellingtons being worn with a minidress, on a sunny day. This is also a side-effect of good gin and a sizable trust fund.

The outfit is deeply preppy. The jewelry, however, is not. The outfit says "I summer on our family island in Maine". The bracelets, ring and belt say "My father runs a waste-disposal company in New Jersey." I attribute this to Lilly Pulitzer being based in Palm Beach, a region known for its crow-like fetish for shiny objects.

PAISLEY PANTS!...Black person.

I sense the sheer surreal unattractiveness of this picture isn't a coincidence. I suspect the logic of this shoot was "Those who want to see diversity in our catalogue will see him, and those who don't can fixate on why he's flaunting piping-hot dead sea-insects". On an unrelated note: if the blonde model -- a tall slender young woman -- looks short and shapeless in those pants, none of the rest of us have a hope in hell. Just saying.

Hmm, this is odd. Let me attempt to interpret this picture. The girl in navy, who is overdressed to be lolling in the dunes, is waiting for the manny. Her torrid summer affair with him will eventually be found out by Mummy, who will turn for comfort to the arms of her Pilates instructor, a kindly German girl named Gisela. The I-banker won’t know; the Golden retriever will suspect. The other girl is engaged to an ER doctor who is below her station but gets her Ketamine and Dilaudid whenever she wants (See: eyes).

Sandals, turtlenecks and wraps? I've worn outfits like this. It means I've gone to the beach in June in a tank-top, having willfully forgotten that the beach in June in California is cold and overcast. After an hour, I finally give in to Consort's entreaties to put something else on, but I have nothing in the car besides more tank-tops, so I go to the nearest tourist trap and buy a long-sleeved shirt which says something like "EVERYTHING grows bigger in California"; there are arrows involved. Later, as it gets colder, I grab the blanket from the back of Consort's car, which smells of wet dog and spare tire. Apropos of that, you just know the dog-model in the picture only sheds in private, into a bag.

Black person... PATTERNED PANTS! (...I'm sensing a trend.)

If this page were scratch-and-sniff, it would smell like Chanel No. 5, expensive leather and inherited wealth. Oh yes, and gin. What you wouldn’t smell is food; WASPS don’t eat. The WASP digestive tract receives nutrients by drinking their gin-and-tonics near food. They glean their calories from the food particulates in the air. That tray of grapes, cheese and crackers in the right-hand side of the picture will feed an extended WASP family for the entire summer.

Once again, rain-boots, mini-skirt, sunny day. Even if I grant them that it can rain and be warm in Florida, if it’s rainy enough to need the boots, doesn’t she need a hat? Does the family driver just chase after her with a coordinated umbrella? Was he told in advance that this was part of his job description? Do the first families of Palm Beach get a different kind of rain which only leaves puddles perfectly suited for well-bred splashing without ever actually coming out of the sky?

To misquote F. Scott Fitzgerald: the rich are different than you and me. They have better weather.

I'd like to mock her, but I covet her hair so badly I can no longer type. You can participate in the fantasy of catalogues until you come up against something which is nothing more than having good genes and a genius hair-stylist less than fifteen inches away at all times.

All the Lilly clothing, gin and Magic-Hour lighting in the world won’t give me that.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Degree of difficulty.

I was going to be cute and write a blog about my new Lilly Pulitzer catalogue, but it only worked if the pictures were attached. As of five minutes ago, the computer and I have agreed to start seeing other people and try to forget that I ever thought attaching photos throughout a blog was a good idea. In the meanwhile, here's a little re-run from two and a half years ago.

“Must you do everything the hard way?” my mother asked, in a tone that mixed irritation, exhaustion, and something akin to awe.

I was six years old, and while I remember the question vividly, I am not entirely certain of the inciting incident. It may have been when I spilled cereal all over the floor at breakfast, and had to clean it up. When Mother came back into the room twenty minutes later, I was found taking one Froot Loop at a time to the trash can. I was using her good tweezers. I was also balancing my cereal bowl on my head, as a new way of getting it to the sink.

Or it could have been any one of a hundred times that my problem-solving skills gave my loved ones tension headaches. I remember the question because I stopped whatever crazy-making behavior I was doing to think “Wow, I guess this was the hard way, now that you mention it”. It might have even occurred to me that the solutions of other people didn’t seem to require secondary solutions as often as mine did. But, the moment passed, and I picked up the tweezers again.Like so many of my quirks, it begins in a place of reasonably normal behavior.

The trouble seems to come with the phrase “Yes, and…” If other people feel confident getting one problem fixed with one solution, I simply cannot rest until several problems are getting corrected at the same time. The solution will get more and more extended and ill-conceived until it is creating smaller problems of its own. For example, one morning last week along with the usual morning school run, I had to get the dog to the vet, the library books returned, the dry-cleaning to the cleaners and, most critically, a bag of valentines and a tray of pink cupcakes for the school party for Valentine’s Day.

Any person old enough to understand the concept of gravity would have made more than one run to the car. But not me; my cunning little brain deemed several trips of fifteen feet to the car “Completely unnecessary”. Why, once I tied the dogs’ leash to my wrist, looped the library bag over the same arm, and carried the dry-cleaning bag in my teeth, I had scads of room to balance a tray of frosted cupcakes on my other forearm while tucking the bag of valentines under my chin! And who doesn’t enjoy yelling “Come ON” to your child through the straps of a canvas bag while trying to maintain balance while a dog maniacally tries to get the squirrel that is taunting her from a tree across the street?

The Goddess who watches over mothers allowed me to not drop the cupcakes, although I was begging for such an event. I was only left with bruises on my arm from the leash and the library bag, and a lingering taste of canvas in my mouth for the rest of the day. But, damnit, I only made one trip.

Sometimes, I can even feel myself losing the battle. I can see, clearly, where others might have stopped, and have been perfectly content with the outcome. But onwards I plunge, with only the voices in my head for company. When asked what she wanted for the theme of her third birthday, Daughter requested an Animal Tea Party. This was to be a very low-key birthday party, just a few friends from the neighborhood, so I decided that I could bake the cake.

REASONABLE QUINN: Just get a sheet cake; the kids only want the frosting, anyway. If you are feeling fancy, buy animal-shaped candles.

OTHER QUINN: You know what would be totally cute? A cupcake for each guest.

RQ: Sure, you can buy that.

OQ: Or, we could make them at home. No, wait. I could make them in those little molds that I have been saving.

RQ: Or, you could buy them. Put some sprinkles on them yourself. Better yet, just serve the children cups of frosting, if you really want to make them happy.

OQ: OH MY GOD! I had the best idea. I will make each little cake look like a garden, and I will put a homemade frosted animal cookie on it. Standing up. With candied violets in the mini-cake garden.

RQ: Are you even aware that I’m here?

Her birthday is in summer. It was a warm day. I was found in our kitchen screaming at small animal cookies because they wouldn’t stay upright in their frosting grass, which was melting. Consort gently led me to our bedroom, and put a cold compress on my neck until I stopped sobbing. The children ate the green frosting, and left the virtually untouched small cakes scattered throughout the backyard, creating an Easter egg hunt for the dog for weeks to come. I still can’t look at those molds without shuddering. And still I learn nothing. Tomorrow I have a lunch meeting across town. I am taking with me two things that need dropping off. They don’t need dropping off anywhere near where I am going, you understand.

But, damnit, I will make only one trip.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007



“Meatmeatmeatmeatmeat, (breathe), meatmeatmeatmeatmeat!!!!!!!!!”

Let me bring you up to speed. A few months ago, during the pet-food tainting drama, when it looked as if Chinese manufacturers had it in for our pets, my local Whole Foods -- sensing that Paranoid-Americans were being underserved -- started selling ground raw meat for pet food. There were several stickers on each wrapped package indicating this meat wasn’t fit for human consumption which says “Snouts and sphincters” to me, but that’s better than worrying about whether the secret ingredient in your cat’s can of Tastee Treats is melamine.

I also did the math and realized it would be no more expensive to serve Lady Hairball raw meat than her favorite can of stinky wet food. But was I saving her a death from kidney failure only to put her in danger of mad-cow disease, or Ruinous Whisker Failure, or some other feline-specific disorder? Not from my research. In fact, as you might suspect, the domestic cat is built from teeth to tummy, and well beyond there, to eat meat. Their wild ancestors weren’t tracking bowls of corn meal and wheat flour, two common ingredients in cat food. No, they were hunting living things, and they were built to thrive on, and love, meat.

Of course, I had forgotten that cats aren't dogs. In culinary terms, dogs are the ideal guests. Whatever they find in their bowl (or on the table, or in the cats’ litter box) is the one exact thing they had always hoped to eat. After a minute’s snarfling and an enthusiastic burp, the dog trots away from the bowl, mission accomplished. The average cat is not the ideal dinner guest. The average cat is your obnoxious cousin who just got back from a six-week trip to cooking school in the south of France who glances at the sandwich you made her and sighs “You know, in France, they take such care with their food.” Even with the limited range of facial expressions cats have, any change in Lulabelle’s diet left her looking at me with nothing but dismay and sorrow. The first night, I hacked off a bit of pink flesh. She stared at me, sniffed the food and stared at me again.

LULABELLE: I can move out, you know. Just say the word.

QUINN: This is about your food, right?

LULABELLE: If you have to ask…

QUINN: What, may I ask, is wrong with it?

LULABELLE: Where’s my stinky wet food?

QUINN: It had fire-retardant in it. Look, it’s meat!

LULABELLE: I hate new things. It’s new.

QUINN: Not really. You eat meat all the time. It’s just usually thrashing.

She sniffed it again.

LULABELLE: I have an idea. Go get me stinky wet food.

QUINN: Just taste it.

LULABELLE: Or, you could open the back door. I’ll just make myself an opossum.

It took a couple of days, but she started to come around. I still got the disappointed sniff for a few more days, but I noticed the food was gone within twenty minutes or so. Then, the sniff was replaced by a certain excitement when I would bring out the bag o’ meat. I’d be sawing away at her dinner, and Lulabelle would be circling my legs, getting to second base with my ankles.

What I hadn’t stopped to consider, because I rarely think about things from a cat’s point of view, was how the excitement she had once felt about the can opener would be transferred to someone walking to the refrigerator. This makes sense because, to her way of thinking, an open fridge door and a can opener mean the same thing; food is coming. But when not opening cans of stinky wet food, we rarely used the can opener; she was correct in assuming any can-opening was a party for her. I don’t want to imply we’re a constantly snacking sort of people, but I hadn’t noticed how often I open the fridge until someone small and furry was there to remind me:

Quinn opens fridge. Quinn feels presence. Looking down, Quinn sees Lulabelle on her hind legs, also looking in the fridge.



QUINN: You already had dinner.

LULABELLE: So did you. And you’re here. Meat?

QUINN: I’m shutting the fridge now.


Repeat until the next meal.

She’s developed preferences. Beef is lovely; chicken is to be ignored until you are faint from hunger, but if you really want to send her into ecstasies? Sister, get that cat some organ meat. I learned this the day I went to Whole Foods and they hadn’t ground their lesser meats for the pets yet. On a whim, I grabbed the reddest and cheapest cut of meat. It turned out to be beef liver, which required cutting into smaller pieces. I was standing in the kitchen, sawing away at it, when Daughter walked in. She screamed, which wasn’t surprising, as I was covered in blood from the elbows down and there was blood dripping on to the floor from the cutting board. Whatever scene she had expected to find in her family’s kitchen, it wasn’t from Sweeney Todd.

“Don’t worry, honey”, I said in what I hoped was a comforting tone as I struggled to remove a slippery blood clot from under my nail, “None of this is my blood. And once I feed Lulabelle and scrub everything in this kitchen with a weak bleach cleaning-solution, this will all fade from your memory.”

Having finished my butchering, I placed about a quarter-cup of what looked liked Satan’s erasers in Lulabelle’s bowl. I then opened the back door where the cat, having divined that I was preparing her dinner, flew in and made it to her bowl, about six feet away and around a corner, in one leap. She grabbed the largest hunk, threw it on the ground, pounced on it and then sang to it softly as she tore off bits. Daughter and I watched her.

Daughter whispered, “Is she supposed to do that?”

I whispered back, “I’m in very new territory here. Let’s be glad that she seems happy.”

Let’s be glad she hasn’t figured out that every other member of her household is potentially nothing more than a big bag of organ meats, just waiting to be harvested.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Lost Planet.

Consort can tell you, I’m a bear when I lose something. Clarification: I am a bitchy, nervous bear when I lose something, which makes very little sense, because I lose things all the time, and shouldn’t I be used to it by now? But I’m not, nor am I inclined to “…see the humor in this” or respond well to “It’s got to be here somewhere, did you check your purse?”

Statements like that just make me want to open up someone’s head with my big bear paw.

So you know I was Miss Congeniality when, a few nights ago, I determined I had lost one of the critical files from my desk. A quick tearing-apart of the office didn’t turn up the file. An extremely uninteresting philippic of mine about how “People with organized offices don’t have problems like this” followed, which led to a forced-march of an office-cleaning by Consort and me.

An hour later, having found nothing but several dozen manila file-folders which mocked me by being the wrong one, I tore the entire house apart. Daughter, wisely, hid in her room until I came flying in, insisting we had check her toy chest and her dress-up box. The entire evening was spent pursuing the folder, for naught. It was still missing. I was a veritable Crock-Pot of annoyance, cooking on a low heat which could go on for days. I had seen the file within the previous 48 hours; I didn’t take it out of the house, WHERE WAS THAT STUPID FILE? I even dreamt about it that night, dancing just beyond my reach, laughing a gleeful, tinkling office-supply laugh.

The next day, I went to find a separate file in the office, only to find it was missing. Having just seen what I’m like when something goes AWOL, I’m guessing you readers are thinking something like “Oh, no…”, which would be normal concern were I the sort of person who behaves consistently. Luckily for those people who live with me and had already cleaned every available space the night before, I got very calm, and actually quite cheerful. When one thing of mine can’t be found, it’s missing. When two similar objects of mine can’t be found, they are somewhere together, and the odds are that I know something about it, if only I could remember it. I now knew I had created some cunning filing system for the file-folders I used every day, but hadn’t bothered to actually remember what the system was.

I worked backwards; at some point within the previous week, I had decided the files sitting on my desk weren’t efficient, or visually appealing, or were attracting spiders, so I put them…away. Somewhere. I had no recollection of doing any part of this, but it sounded like something I would do. I am my own assistant, and I would fire myself in a minute, if only it wouldn’t make family get-togethers so awkward.

I now had twice as many files unaccounted for as I had the night before, and yet I was half as stressed. I knew that someday I would open a box of winter sweaters and under a layer of mothballs and above a layer of reindeer sweaters, I would find a file with Daughter’s summer-camp information in it and underneath that a file with the words “DO THESE THINGS NO LATER THAN 8/4!!!” scrawled across the front in red ink.

Objects disappearing and reappearing in groups isn’t always a source of consolation to me, however. It’s possible we have a poltergeist, and this theoretical poltergeist thinks the best way to while away an eternal life is by playing the same practical joke over and over again. If the poltergeist is Lucy, endlessly offering to hold the football, I am Charlie Brown, dubious at first but ultimately willing to believe this time will be different, and somehow always ending up on my metaphorical ass.

Let me set the scene: I was writing, which means I was sitting at the computer, sternly reminding myself that checking the gossip websites isn’t writing by any definition. Having shut down, I prepared to work, only to decide that the reason I couldn’t write is that I was hungry. Yes, that was it! I had to eat!

[My “Writing pants” now come in three sizes.]

I went to the fridge to eat a teaspoon of peanut butter. Upon opening said fridge, I saw no peanut butter. I took the entire contents of the fridge out, taking this moment to jettison some cottage cheese with braidable hair, but still I found no peanut butter. This was odd, because I remembered seeing peanut butter before, and no other member of my family were home save the cat. But if she were suddenly given thumbs and the upper-body strength needed to open a refrigerator, she wouldn’t waste this wondrous new skill on ground legumes.

I repacked the fridge, went to our cabinet, and wiggled out a jar of peanut butter, which was wedged between a tin of anchovies and a jar of hearts of palm, and was wearing a hat of a jumbo jar of pimentos. Stopping briefly to note I didn’t remember ever buying pimentos, hearts of palm or anchovies, I opened the jar of peanut butter and ate a spoonful. Closing the jar, I opened the fridge.

There, on the top shelf, impossible to miss, were four jars of peanut butter, lined up like Rockettes. A quick inspection confirmed each one had a tablespoon of peanut butter scraped off the top. Somewhere in the house, the poltergeist laughed, and was joined by the two manila files, paired by me to reside in a place of my own devising until such time as I remember where in the hell that is. One of the nearly-full peanut butter jars whispered “Hi, Quinn. Seen your keys lately?”

Backing slowly out of the room, I raced for the office, and shut and locked the door behind me.