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    Finding Things

    I am not good at finding things. Possibly, this is because I am not good at putting things away. My late wife Marie, in fact, once told me I never put anything away. This was a gross exaggeration because just a week earlier I had taken a stack of very important tax documents and put them away with my own two hands. It’s just that I couldn’t remember where. They should have been in the “Very Important Tax Document File,” but they weren’t. Eventually, Marie would find them, and when she did, she told me again that I never put anything away.

    It was irritating, but I could sure use her help today because I am supposed to go pheasant hunting tomorrow with Steve, and I can’t find my shotgun. MY SHOTGUN! For cryin’ out loud! Who misplaces their shotgun?

    Marie was always uncanny when it came to finding things. She thought it was her responsibility to help me locate items I had lost or misplaced — part of her job description, I guess. Most of the time, finding an item I had misplaced was not overly stressful unless it was a wallet or truck keys, and I was supposed to pick up Mike in 20 minutes for a bird hunting trip. If that was the case, I usually went into a panic mode, racing around the house dumping the contents of drawers or pulling the sheets off the bed.

    Sometimes, I would be rummaging around in the kitchen junk drawer at six o’clock in the morning, cursing slightly under my breath, and Marie, from the living room where she was having a second cup of coffee, would look up and say, “What are you looking for, dear?”

    “Keys again,” I’d say with a bit of embarrassment.

    Marie would then stare at me for a long second or two.

    “Try the drawer under the bread board,” she’d suggest. I would, and nine times out of 10, that’s where I’d find the keys. That would only work if she told me to look there, however. If I looked there first by myself, the keys would eventually be found in the basement next to my reloading bench or in the garage on top of the freezer.

    If I told Marie I was looking for the dog leash, she’d ask me when I used it last.

    “When I took Sis for a walk last night,” I’d say.

    “Okay,” she would sigh, getting out of her chair and walking into the kitchen, slowly touching various drawers and cupboards. “That means it’s got to be here in the drawer with the flashlight.” She would then stop and open a drawer where I never, never would dream of putting a dog leash, and there it would be.

    Marie was particularly good at finding my glasses and wallet. She had this uncanny ability to run the day’s events backward in her mind until she arrived at the precise moment an item disappeared. From there, it was one more easy step backward to locate the hiding place. One item that gave her a challenge, however, was my dog whistle.

    In the spring, I refereed girls’ junior high basketball using my orange dog whistle to call attention to violations. I also donned an ancient, decrepit pair of low-cut black-and-white Converse tennis shoes. My intent had everything to do with economics, and I figured to save a couple bucks, it was OK to look like a doofus for an hour three times a week. The girls didn’t seem to mind, because at that level, they were more interested in a teammate’s hairdo than a pick and roll, so the old man with the clown shoes who was calling fouls with an orange whistle was pretty much a nonentity.

    When the season was over, I put away my reffing accessories and didn’t look at them for another year. When the next season started, though, I showed up at the school gym to call my first game and couldn’t find my whistle, and there didn’t seem to be another whistle in the building. I went searching and found nothing and, in desperation, called my wife.

    “Didn’t you use it during the last hunting season?” she asked.

    “No,” I told her. “I bought that fancy GPS unit for the dog, and it had a built-in beeper to call her back.”

    “Well, where was your last game then?” she asked.

    “Northwood Junior High,” I said. “A year ago.”

    “What were you wearing?”

    “What difference does it make?”

    She repeated the question.

    I thought for a moment. “The same tan pants I wore every game,” I said. “I wore the same pants and ref shirt and tennis shoes the entire season. The same ones I have on now.”

    “Oh, yes,” she replied. “I remember the comments from the bleachers. Did you look in the shirt pocket?”

    “My shirt doesn’t have any pockets,” I said. “And I’ve already looked in all the obvious places – pants pockets, duffel bag, even my old locker.”

    “Well, then,” Marie said, “the whistle has to be in one of your tennis shoes.”

    “But Marie,” I complained. “I’m wearing my tennis shoes.”

    “How do they feel?” she asked innocently.

     “I think I’m getting a bunion on the right foot,” I said.

    “I’ll see you in a couple hours, darling,” Marie said. “I hope your foot feels better.”


    Wolfe Publishing Group