1-30-14 “What have I forgotten?”
Use this phrase for the narrator or character.
“Okay, let’s do the checklist. Glasses?”
Why, oh why, did we have to go over this every time I left the house? I was a grown adult, and such attention was demeaning. You’d think that somewhere along the way I had started exhibiting symptoms of early-onset Oldtimer’s Disease. Linda always said it was just to be sure, and didn’t I remember that Thursday seven years ago when I forgot my reading glasses and was in a tizzy for hours? There must be something. What had I forgotten? I accepted it as a sign of her love and affection.
I actually did remember that useless information from seven long years ago, and couldn’t forget it even if I wanted to because it was the sole event that Linda could hit me over the head with to remind me of how feeble I was in my dotage. One of these days I’ll have to Google “dotage” to see if it’s still in the OED and in common use. I’ll also have to do the Vulcan Mind Meld on Linda to see why she thinks I’m still losing it after seven years. Till then, it’s easiest just to go along with it and get out of the house.
It was a quick trip to the mall to get a book and more bedside snacks. Nothing with too many crumbs, mind you. Although it was mid-winter still, crumbs in the bed would drop the temperature in the bedroom forty degrees in a second, and it would take smoochies from yours truly and a good hoovering to get the warmth back that I was used to and so deserved.
I parked the car and headed in to Target for snacks, then a quick browse through Best Buy and a stroll through the mall to see which stores had died recently. By the time I hit Penney’s, I was shopped out and decided to move on to the next big thing. I headed outside from the Penney’s end of the mall and strolled in the chill back to the car.
The car. I parked it near Target. I remember that I drove it here, got out, locked the door and headed in to get provisions. Ipso Fatso, the car is parked in the parking lot. And also following from that, here I stand in the parking lot and I should be seeing my car. Hello? Car?
Now, my car is my pride and joy. I love my car. I would know my car from a thousand yards away. Yet here, standing on the sidewalk by Target, it seems that every resident of Hamster County has decided to go shopping, and spread before me is a sea of multi-hued steel. Big cars, little cars, SUVs, pickups, there was even a Megabus waiting for cheapskates going to New York. So what had they done with my car?
I’m an intellectual. I consider myself a pretty knowledgeable person, with a good education and a balanced world view. This was not a crisis. It was a minor inconvenience. And I most certainly had not forgotten something as simple as where I parked the car. There was a logical answer to this, and a rational method to solve the puzzle.
My first thought was that somehow, God had played Rubiks Cube with all of the cars in the parking lot and I just had to unscramble time and space to get home again. I did that reality check thing first, just to be sure that I was standing in my Universe, and hadn’t been beamed up to the Mother Ship. I did a 360, scanning my environs and confirming that I was on Earth. A quick glance at my watch confirmed the time and date. I had to trust that I had the year correct, because my watch didn’t go that far.
Action plan. There was this big red concrete ball outside the store that lets you know that you’re shopping at the right place. I stood upon the orb and did a slow sweep of the lot. Little car? Are you there?
No little car in sight. I figure I had wasted about forty minutes in my quest, and was ready for action. Being methodical, I started at the farthest reaches of the lot in which I could have possibly parked the car. I thought at first that I should use the spiral method and pick the geometric center of the lot and spiral out toward the edges until I had at last found my little car, but that seemed excessive. A row at a time would be tedious but probably best for all concerned. I started off. Up row one, employing pattern recognition to discover my very unique car. Down row two, up row three. There were a few thousand cars in this frigging lot, and it was my lot to look at them all. Down row four, and I had to back up a few cars because I had spaced out for a sec there and didn’t remember looking at the last four or five. Sue me.
Up row five, and the cars are parked almost all the way to the end of the lot now. Turn and head down row six. I was cruising along, single minded, and thought there was something out of the corner of my eye in the next row, but I was being methodical, and couldn’t stop. All the way down row six, and back up seven.
There! My baby, waiting for me between a pickup and an SUV that were looming over her like giants from Jupiter. Who were the morons who drove these behemoths? Why couldn’t everyone drive a nice sensible car like I did?
With a smile on my face, I headed out and back home. Along the way, I stopped for gas and checked the oil just to let her know that I was thinking of her. I headed back to my other sweetie, the one waiting patiently at home for the most important person in her life to return and complete her. I pulled in to the garage and shut the car off. I sat for a couple of seconds, just reveling in the pleasure of my car’s company.
I turned the key in the lock and walked in to the house. Linda was at the stove, cooking for yours truly. She makes the best black bean stew in the world. I take it as proof that she loves me almost as much as I love her. She turned and smiled at me.
“You must have really had a good time,” she said. “What book did you decide to get?”