I was walking down Reade Street in Tribeca when I saw this sad sight, a lost Cat in the Hat puppet lying atop a Village Voice newspaper box.
I hope this kid-less cat did not wait long to be recovered by his owner. As I write this post, it is snowing heavily, and it is possible that this much loved play pal has since been reduced to soggy rag status and will soon nest in a landfill.
When I was visiting my family over Christmas, my sister, Dovima, lamented to me that my niece, Sweet Pea, who was bereft when she first lost Ricky Rabbit and then, Petey Penguin, during her toddler years, had now lost her key chain. Apparently, this was not just any key chain; like the brass key fob I bought for a dollar at a head shop when I was seventeen and still carry today.
Even as a stoned youth, I had one half shut eye always on the lookout for enduring quality. From what I gather, my heir’s bowling ball-sized key chain was one-of-a-kind and it held a mind-boggling number of keys. I imagined when dropped, the clunk alone would have been enough to wake the dead, but not necessarily a preoccupied sixteen-year-old.
Generally, when something goes missing in my life, it’s entered the void forever. Yet, its absence nags at me for the long haul such as the pair of leather gloves I left in a taxi in 1984. Even worse, during my long gone randy youth, I left behind a rare Charlie Parker record in a guy’s apartment when I attended a sleepover with his vixen while he was out of town. I’ve often wondered what he thought when he found that record. It’s not the norm when one’s mate cheats and then the cheated is awarded a collector’s item by the paramour. The customary gift would more likely have been herpes. I recall that the infidel was so consumed with guilt the morning after our tryst she decided to paint his bedroom. As I watched her beaverishly roll paint over the walls, I reminded her:
Me: We did it on the couch, too. Are you going to reupholster that?
My most recent loss was a bit of my mind when my boss Elsbeth’s wood and iron paper cutter, a sturdy cousin to the guillotine, disappeared. It not only precisely sliced the page, but possibly your fingertip, if you misjudged what you were doing during operation. This is definitely one piece of office equipment best avoided while on meds. I was also impressed with the hoarse cough this apparatus emitted when a sheet would fall victim to its industrial revolution power, even though the actual machine was probably manufactured within the last fifteen years.
One day in summer 2009, I needed to use Elsbeth’s paper cutter, but it was not in its usual place on a shelf in our office. I asked my superior if she had it, but she did not. I asked my colleagues if they knew where it was, but they looked blank, not a very hard expression for them to muster since I posited the question just after lunch as food coma was taking hold. A few hours later, The Quiet Man roused:
The Quiet Man: I remember someone came up here while you were out, and asked if they could borrow it.
Me: Who was it?
The Quiet Man: I don’t remember.
Me: Was it a man or a woman?
The Quiet Man: I don’t remember. I wasn’t paying attention to detail.
Me (thinking): Would you have remembered had it been Sasquatch?
Since I am the guardian of all things Elsbethian, I made several phone calls and fired off numerous emails in the hope that someone had seen it, but no one knew where it was. Our shipping manager scoured the building for it, but he came up empty. Eventually, Elsbeth bought another one — a piece of flimsy modern crap I hate.
Eighteen months later, I’m visiting the Accounting department. I turn to leave and what do I see sitting on a fellow office drone’s desk, but a wood and iron paper cutter that is the mirror image of Elsbeth’s. Had anyone in that office noticed my elation, they would have assumed I saw Jesus. Breathless, I return to my department and trumpet my discovery:
Me: Boss, I’ve found our paper cutter!
Elsbeth: Where is it?
Me: It’s being held hostage in the Accounting department.
Elsbeth: What do they need it for?
Me: I suppose you could ask Gisela why she has it.
My leader falls silent. She returns her attention to a complicated fireplace drawing. Although the Accounting department staff is comprised of reasonable beings, fire-breathing Gisela the Angry rules it. Were I to point out that the paper cutter is actually Elsbeth’s I am confident that G the A would beat me to within an inch of my life with it.
In order to even take a photograph of it, I concoct a ruse to throw suspicious Gisela off the scent:
Me: I’m writing about sentimental objects from my youth. I’ve also photographed the flypaper.
Maybe if I can get Elsbeth to gift Gisela with a cake or better yet, anger management classes, she’ll let us borrow it back on occasion.