Three Nickels, a Bent Paper Clip and Two Dead Flies

lost car keys

I always enjoy my visits to Dr. Ramakrishna’s office. Not because I like going to the doctor, but because it’s the only chance I get to catch up on three-year-old issues of Amateur Pilot, Bow Hunters Magazine and Nursing Administration Quarterly. That’s where I ran across an article written for ADHD sufferers: “How to Stop Losing Things and Find Happiness.” I don’t have ADHD, but I do share many of the same symptoms. Like losing things.

As a first grader, I never lost anything – largely because I’d wear the same clothes for as long as a month and never owned a watch, earrings or necklace. Six-year-olds usually don’t drive, so it was impossible to lose my car keys. I didn’t own a wallet, so losing credit cards and a Subway punch card was out of the question. Everything important went into my two front pockets: three nickels, a bent paper clip and two dead flies. It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in high school that I discovered how important it was never to lose things. Well, most things.

I’d been chasing Naomi Shlomit for the better part of a year. Our hormones were simultaneously peaking, so losing our virginity in the back seat of my mother’s Pontiac was the one thing I didn’t mind parting with. When the big night finally arrived, we parked on top of Mulholland Drive and got ready for action. “Do you have a condom?” she asked. Not only had I lost my condom, but my entire wallet was missing along with my driver’s license and the joint I’d been saving in that little pouch where you’re supposed to keep loose change. I ended up taking her home early with both of our virginities safely in tact.

When I enlisted in the Navy, I discovered that it was virtually impossible to lose anything while in the military. During the first 24 hours of boot camp, they took away everything I owned and shaved my head. Afterwards, they gave me one pair of pants, shoes, socks, skivvies and a work shirt. It’s pretty hard to lose something when you’re always wearing it. At bedtime I stowed them in a small drawer the size of a safe deposit box until the next morning, when I’d put them back on again.

It wasn’t until I began earning more money and enjoying the luxuries of a car, credit cards, expensive clothes and an apartment that I started losing things. With acquired possessions came the inevitability of losing them: socks, keys, belts, sunglasses and my pass to 24 Hour Fitness. Virtually everything I owned eventually ended up between the cushions of my couch or the dryer in the basement.

The magazine article threw out a number of suggestions on how people with ADHD could minimize the stress of losing their important possessions. The first thing they suggested was stop carrying a wallet. After all, the President of the United States doesn’t carry one. But he has someone walking behind to carry it for him; that and a briefcase for launching nuclear missiles.

They also suggested leaving things like your car keys in the same place – like the table next to the front door. That works well when I’m home. But remembering that I left them on the table next to the front door at my girlfriend’s house hasn’t proved to be an effective solution.

As it turns out, losing things is uniquely human. We’re the only species that misplaces our retainers, asthma inhalers and contact lenses. Largely because squirrels, elephants and birds have no need for things like retainers, asthma inhalers and contact lenses. In fact, animals recognize no value in having possessions at all. You’ll never find birds complaining,

“Dang, Mildred. Have you seen my mud and twigs?”

“Oh, Nestor. You probably left them back at the nest.”

None of the suggestions the article made seemed to work for me, so eventually I just threw in the towel and bought multiples of everything that’s important to me and left them at home, in the trunk of my car, at the office, in my locker at the sports club and at the brothel I frequent. There, you’ll find copies of my house keys, car keys, all my credit cards, a second cell phone, socks, underwear, an extra suit, toiletries and enough money to call my next door neighbor to tell him I’ve locked myself out of the house again.

Of course, there are more important things I can lose besides my wallet. Just give me a few shots of tequila and a couple of lines of cocaine and I can lose my dignity, self esteem, train of thought and reputation all at the same time. Granted, it’s been some time since I’ve done that but even without drugs and alcohol, the potential is always there. Just bring up a subject about which I believe I’m imminently qualified and I’m off to the races.

There are certainly worse things I can lose besides my car keys. Or even my self esteem for that matter. If I get arrested for losing my gun, chances are losing my freedom, individuality and zest for life will soon follow.

There are some things I wouldn’t mind losing. Beginning with the muffin top that’s slowly covering my belt, I wouldn’t mind losing the hair that’s now growing out of my ears, my turkey neck, man tits, periodontal disease, bad back and that cute little habit I have of farting when I bend over to pick up the newspaper.

I suppose things could be worse. After all, I still have all my faculties. I can still take care of myself and no one from the police department has called to report finding my glass eye, false teeth or toupee. But even if they did, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I have others.


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