Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Secret Life of Keys

At the outset of my barbershop harmony rehearsal the other night I left for a moment to get my reading glasses from the car. I unlocked the car, retrieved the glasses from the cupholder in the console, locked the car and returned to rehearsal. Not an eventful moment in one's life, by any measure.
          This was a special rehearsal where interested newcomers could join in to see if they wanted to become members, so we were also plying them with alcohol and other refreshments. I had brought my contribution to the festivities in a large paper bag, which contained a fancy tablecloth, an array of frosted brownies, a gallon of Arizona iced tea with lemon flavor, and plastic cups. I like milk with my brownies, but I thought this predominantly cabernet crowd would scoff at my attempts to turn our sophisticated evening into an after school snack. So I settled for offering iced tea to nondrinkers like myself.
          After getting my reading glasses from the car, I decided to put my jangling car keys into one of the many pockets of my Columbia jacket. I mention the brand name so those familiar with this type of outerwear can nod their heads in understanding, even sympathy, about the number of pockets these jackets have. Inside, outside, on the side, hidden inside, tucked here, there and everywhere. 
          At the end of the rehearsal, after gnoshing at the buffet table long enough to consider a Zantac, I helped clean up, tossing piles of napkins, plates, and cups into two huge black garbage cans for disposal.  
          Then I loaded up my shopping bag with the remaining cups, brownies, and tea I had brought and began searching for my car keys, intending to leave so I could get home in time for the late night re-runs of Law and Order. But a search of all my pockets came up empty. This was impossible. I clearly remembered putting my keys somewhere in my jacket. So where were they? For ten minutes I went through every pocket in my jacket again, as well as the two in my polar fleece vest, and the ones in my slacks and I still couldn't find the keys. So I repeated the drill. No keys. Since the unexamined life is not worth living, I immediately began questioning my personal responsibility in this. Was the disappearance of my keys related to my advanced age, the color of my hair, or was some cosmic intervention at work?  
           Philosophy aside, I soon realized I was going to need a ride home, which was, unfortunately, twenty minutes away. So I spoke up before the place was emptied out. Naturally a ride was offered, but only after we first checked to see if, in fact, my car was locked. Not because I'm older and might be forgetful. But because I'm blond.  I once broke a window of my car to get the keys I had left in the ignition, only to discover that the car was unlocked the whole time.
          We also spent five minutes peering into the windows to determine whether there was any sign of the keys locked inside. A vote of those present decided that a silver glint from the cupholder in the console could be from a set of keys. Not once did anyone ask me to check the pockets in my jacket again to see if, by some miracle, they had suddenly reappeared. Keys magically reappearing happens to me regularly. They try to make you look bad. But I don't think it's an age-related or blond thing, as much as key karma. 
           Since I had an extra car key at home, a plan was quickly put into place. Our membership chairman would drive me home to get it, then drive me back to my car. At 9:30 at night, this was a VERY nice thing for one of my fellow choristers to offer. 
          We got to my house without fanfare. I ran inside and began looking for my spare key in the two places I always keep it. Not there. Or there. Nowhere. Blond? Age-related? Frankly I didn't give a crap. After five minutes of searching I informed my patiently waiting driver that she could go home, since I would have to figure out something else. 
          Five minutes after she left I found the spare key in one of the places where it was supposed to be. Exactly where I had looked before. Age-related? Blond? Cosmic particles? Actually I think the spare key went out for a cigarette and lost track of time. At that point I decided I could ask a family member to take me to my car in the morning. But first I called the police to inform them I was leaving my car in the church parking lot. Was I thinking they would watch it? They didn't give a rip because the car was on private property. But they did offer to get into my car for me. I declined since I was already miles away at home. I didn't bother telling them the whole, long story about having a spare key that I couldn't find until after my ride back to my locked car had turned around and gone home. That long-winded tale would have been painfully gender and age-related, but, for a change, not blond. 
          After calling the police, I hung up my jacket with many pockets and went to bed. In the morning I put on my jacket, waited for family to pick me up, made sure I had the spare key with me [forgetting to bring it after all that would be age-related AND blond] and got a ride to my car, which had spent the night locked up with the keys inside. Or so I thought. 
          I opened up my car with the spare key, searched everywhere and still couldn't find my keys. The silver glint in the console was one of the many tabs of Zantac I keep around for emergency burgers and fries. Determined to find the missing keys, I went inside to the party room we used the night before and worked my way through all the garbage, in case I had somehow thrown out the keys with the leftover artichoke dip and chips. Losing them in the garbage would have been a blond thing. But -- I didn't find anything but garbage. 
          Finally at home once again, I took off my jacket and decided to go through all the pockets one more time, convinced I wouldn't find the keys, since I'd searched so many times before. At that point my search for the lost keys was no longer blond nor age-related, but more of a repetitive, OCD thing.
         Needless to say, the keys were in the second pocket I checked. I couldn't believe it. This isn't just a set of keys for a car. There are two sets of keys, because I have two cars. And there are house keys, mailbox keys, and keys which have no purpose other than to keep the other keys company. And all these keys make noise when I walk. And noise when I pat my jacket. Some one or some thing had put them into stealth mode.
          That discovery meant my keys had been in one of the pockets of my jacket the whole time I was looking for them. The whole time I was driving back and forth to get the spare key. The whole time I was going through all that garbage. I could only wonder. Was this age-related? Blondness? Karma? Or, most likely, just my keys messing with me?         


Donna said...

It's blondness that gets worse with age.

Jayne Martin said...

I lost my car keys this week, too. It's so surreal, you don't even believe it's happening. Fortunately, I did have and find the spare I needed when a friend brought me to get it. I wish I could say I had the same happy ending and found it, but no such luck.

I think mine leaped from my pocket and ran off with another key. ;)

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

If you wanna claim your keys are messing with ya, I'll back you up.
My keys... and other things... do it all of the time.