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Al Batt: Rummaging around the last  place I’d ever look for item

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt


I rummaged around.

It’s life on the planet Batt.

I wasn’t chewing on life’s gristle or on a quest. I wasn’t looking for the truth. I wasn’t looking for answers. I wasn’t looking for Judge Crater, Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Hoffa or Waldo. I began my search as men typically do by saying, “Who stole my thingamajig?” Thingamajig could be replaced with whatnot, oojamaflip, whatsit, gizmo, whatsis, gubbins, thingamabob, whosis, thingummy, whatchamacallit, kajigger, widget, doodad, jiggambob, doohickey, whatsitsname, doojigger, whatdoyoucallit, or you know, that thing that fits on the end of the thingy.

It was something I’d use, but it was no big deal if I didn’t find it. It wasn’t even a medium-sized deal, but it was a deal. The longer it takes to find something, the more important finding it becomes.

I tend to put a thing in a good place where I’ll always remember where it is. That’s a great theory, but not always an effective practice. I do it because that’s the way I was brought up. It’s putting a message in a bottle and hoping you’ll find it one day.

Life is an organizational challenge. Some days are like a vending machine that refuses to spit out what you want. There are six chemical elements common to all life: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and lost items. OK, the last element is really sulfur, but I don’t spend much time trying to find sulfur.

I was cautiously optimistic about finding it. I had good intentions. The world needs people with good intentions. We spend our lives looking for things. Things we want, need or have lost. If I found it, I’d discard the phlegmatic Minnesotan attitude and be as happy as a gull with a french fry.

I knew a guy who couldn’t remember where he’d put anything. His car carried a bumper sticker reading, “I’ve forgotten where I’m going.” He forgot everything but his grudges. I’ve heard of people losing their minds while looking for something. Perhaps mine had drifted, as I found myself singing this song, “But I would walk 500 miles. And I would walk 500 more. Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles. To fall down at your door.” My brain might have headed off to parts unknown as there was no clear connection between song and search. It didn’t help.

When I was a dear boy, a Catholic friend would say, “Dear St. Anthony, please come around. Something is lost and it cannot be found.” Her brother used a more relaxed, yet demanding prayer, “Tony, Tony, look around. Something’s lost and must be found!” Saint Anthony is the “Patron Saint of Lost Things.” That’s because when a novice stole a book of Psalms from him and St. Anthony prayed for it to be recovered, the novice returned it.

The lost and found department was closed. My wife had gone grocery buying. Nothing is truly lost until my wife can’t find it. I checked the junk drawer and the last place I’d look for it. It wasn’t in either place. I might woulda had oughta put it in a better place.

You know how it goes. If you’re looking for a crow, you’ll find a microw and a macrow before you find the crow. I found a big ring of mysterious keys that I keep because I haven’t lost them yet. I found a number of screwdrivers and enough pliers. My tool chest needs a couple of screwdrivers (slotted or flat-head and Phillips), two pliers (slip-joint and needle-nose), vise grip, crescent wrench and duct tape. And a hammer to use in case I can’t fix something with a screwdriver, pliers, vise grip, crescent wrench or duct tape.

It was whittling a big stick into a small stick. My quest was like having a humongous hankering for ice cream and entering a restaurant only to hear, “I’m sorry, our ice cream machine isn’t working.”

The search had gone into overtime. I was about to growl, “Release the Kraken!” when I found something else I’d been looking for forever. They say you can’t find what you’re not looking for. Sure, you can. I did. Who are they to tell us that? Is that yet another conspiracy theory? They ought to find a hobby instead of telling us all those things. I’m glad I found something because I’m not sure what a Kraken is.

I didn’t find what I’d searched for. It’s just as well. By the time I’d have found it, I’d have forgotten I was looking for it.

Al Batt’s column appears every Wednesday.