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National Editorials & Columns

Lost Keys

My seventh-grade science teacher used to say I’d lose my head if it weren’t attached. I always hated that saying.

First of all, if your head fell off, you’d have bigger things to worry about than finding your body or anything else you misplaced — such as that whole being dead thing. Secondly, I’d like to think that I’d keep tabs on my detachable head.

There are plenty of important things I haven’t lost — for example, my car. I may have misplaced it a few (hundred) times in parking lots, but I never have lost it completely. That’s not to say I haven’t come close.

This past week, I headed over to a cute part of town with Michelle, one of my best friends from high school, who was visiting me. I parked the car on a side street, and for the next few hours, we strolled around, grabbing lunch and shopping in cute boutiques.

Back at the car, I felt in my purse for my keys, but I couldn’t find them.

“Aren’t those your keys?” Michelle asked, pointing to a massive bushel that would make any hotel owner/Scooby Doo villain jealous. My keys had been left in plain sight on the roof of the car. For hours.

I snatched the keys off the roof.

“I’m so glad you’re still here!” I exclaimed, hugging the car. “I could’ve lost you forever.”

“You’re so lucky,” Michelle said.

Before heading to the next stop in our day o’ fun, I decided to feed my baby. I sat in the driver’s seat, covered up with a blanket, and I picked up the conversation with Michelle that had been interrupted with the discovery of my roof keys. About 20 minutes and four conversation topics later, we were ready to roll.

Now where did I put those keys?

“Did you leave them on the roof?” Michelle suggested. I got out of the car and checked. Nope.

“In the trunk?” Nope.

“Then they have to be somewhere in the car,” Michelle said.

Yes, they have to be somewhere in the car. But where?

My car is an embarrassment. It has taken on the cluttered and trashed, albeit homey, feel often ascribed to scary secret dungeons and studio apartments in Manhattan.

If I had lost a single key somewhere in the jungle that is my car, it would’ve been a lost cause. But my behemoth set of keys could be used as a weapon. I wasn’t worried about finding them.

Ten minutes later, I still was looking.

“Oh, the great irony,” Michelle said. “You find your keys left on the roof of your car and then lose them once you get inside.”

I went through my diaper bag and shopping bags. I picked up or folded or discarded every random particle in my vehicle. The car never looked better, but the keys were not to be found.

Twenty minutes later, the search still was going. I was starting to crack. I did have keys at some point, right? We did see my keys on the roof. I’m not crazy, right?

That’s when I saw a friend of mine walking toward my car, a beautiful set of keys dangling from her hand. My keys! But then rational thinking returned. Those weren’t my keys. How could they be? She was just carrying her own set.

I was losing it. I looked. And relooked. And looked again.

After 30 minutes of a maddening search, I found the keys stuck in a nook by the passenger seat.

My friend looked amused. I could tell she wanted to comment on how my scatterbrained ways hadn’t changed since high school. But she didn’t say anything. So I did.

“Nice to know nothing changes, huh?”

Michelle smiled and agreed.

My science teacher should’ve spent less time worrying about me losing my head and more time worried I’d lose my mind.

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