Thursday, July 2, 2009

Finding Things

You always find what you are looking for in the last place you look. Unless you are an idiot, this is undeniably true since it would be ridiculous to keep looking for something after you find it. Still, the statement is inherently cruel in that I can never find anything in the first place I look, usually the number I search is at least in double digits.

Roseanne Barr once said that the reason men ask their wives to find things for them stemmed from the male belief that the uterus was a tracking device. I am certainly guilty of this; I rarely find anything without my wife’s help. I once had my wife and both sons franticly searching the house for a misplaced but vital folder. I kept urging greater efforts by waving a folder at them while yelling “Keep searching! It looks just like this one!”

Naturally, it turned out the missing folder was the one I was waving. I can still remember my family standing around me obviously wondering if this form of stupidity was connected to a recessive or dominant gene.

Sometimes I wonder if I became a history professor as a cover for what I will charitably call absentmindedness. If I was an accountant, I suspect I would have been locked away by now in a home for the criminally stupid.

My most commonly misplaced item is a book. The house positively drips books; there is at least one bookcase in every room of the house. There are stacks of books, heaps of books, and boxes of books in most of the closets. And I can never find the one I want. I freely admit on several occasions purchasing a second copy of a book rather than tackling the impossible task of finding the first copy. There are piles of dust covers that in all probability will never be reunited with volumes. Nor are the books sorted by category, author, or subject. Dewey would label this the Dumb Ass System.

This disaster was not completely my fault. I blame the housekeeper. I’ll call her Carmen, mostly because that was her name. Carmen wasn’t really hired to clean the house as any idiot could tell at a glance that all my wife and I required was a path to each room. Primarily, Carmen was supposed to watch the boys; What’s-His-Name and The-Other-One. She did this wonderfully, even now, years later, they are still around somewhere. Since Carmen didn’t speak English, she even taught the boys a little Spanish.

What Carmen really liked, was re-arranging furniture. No piece of furniture ever stayed in one location very long, something that only seemed to bother the cat and myself. I still wonder how a small pregnant woman could have moved the baby grand piano.

I took the family to England for two weeks, a wonderful holiday during which my wife and I shipped a crate of books from Hay-On-Wye. Carmen needed the work, I wanted someone to watch the house and feed the cat, so Carmen continued to work while the family was away. I presumed she would move the TV to a new location and spend the next two weeks happily watching Telemundo while the cat slept in her lap.

We had no idea of the disaster waiting for us on our return. With two weeks of uninterrupted time, Carmen had rearranged every book in the house by height and color. To this day, I regularly ask my wife if Jerome’s “Three Men in a Boat” is a tall blue book or a medium green one. Who cares who is buried in Grant’s tomb? I need to know the color of the binding containing his memoirs.

The disaster could not have been more complete if Carmen had burned the books. I would have preferred it, since a fire would not have caused my insurance agent to hang up on me, laughing like a drunken hyena. It seems that an item irretrievably lost in your own home is not an insurable risk.

No comments:

Post a Comment