Friday, March 18, 2011

The Biggest Loser

My son raised his hand at the kitchen table.

“This isn’t school, sweetie,” I said.  “What?”

“Why’d you give me a shot glass with my smoothie?”

I waited ‘til he took a swig.  “Um . . . I seem to have lost something.”

His eyes bulged.  His cheeks puffed.

“Like what?”

I busied myself wiping the stove.  “Don’t talk with your mouth full,” I said.  “Like the mango pit.  The shot glass is for the pit pieces.”

I turned when I heard him gag.  A peach-colored smoothie stream filled the tiny glass.

“Sorry,” he said as he pushed the big and little glasses across the table.  “I can’t.”

“Aw, c’mon.  It tastes way better than the time I lost the plastic measuring spoon.  And the extra fiber, it’ll . . .”

He made his lips disappear.  Shook his head violently.

I sighed.  “Got a quarter?”

One of his eyes got smaller.  “Yeah.  Why?”

“Let’s make a bet.  Do you think Daddy’ll figure it out or not?”

“He totally will,” my son said.  “It’s like there’s sunflower seed shells in there.”

My little guy and I tried to keep our faces straight while my husband sucked down his shake. He wiped the corners of his mouth with the back of his hand then kissed me on the cheek.

“That hit the spot,” he said.  “I’m going for a run.  See ya later.”

I waited ‘til I heard the front door catch, then I stuck my hand, palm up, in front of my son. 

“You owe me twenty five cents.”

“Gambling’s evil,” he said.  “You know that, right?”


I searched everywhere for the receipt.  To figure out how much the watch cost.  The gift he got me for our twentieth wedding anniversary.  I found the paperwork in the bill pay dumping drawer.  I scootched my reading glasses up the bridge of my nose.  Used my pencil eraser to go line by line.  Found the store name.  Followed the dots over to the right.  My palms, underarms, and the divot under my nose felt suddenly damp.

“Did you find it yet?” my husband said when he came home from work. 

I shook my head and held my hand out for his lunch bag.  He went through the mail pile, slicing the top of each envelope with an old butter knife. 

“It’s probably gone forever, you know.”

I peered under the settee at a dust bunny.  “I don’t think so,” I said.  I squatted and picked up the dust fluff in a pincer grip.  “I’m pretty sure I’ll find it when I change my closet over.  It’s probably in a pair of shorts.  I bet I took it off to wash dishes one night.”

The next week I was at my desk.  Writing, editing, checking Facebook.  Same thing.  I heard a voice.  Well, I didn’t hear it really.  Not out loud or anything.  But it was definitely there, inside my head.

Lift up the printer.

There it was.  A small hill of silver links and a barely blue pearlescent face.  My throat felt tight.  I blinked a couple times to keep my eyes from spilling over.

I fished my cell out of my back pocket.  Slid it open.  Typed a text.

“Guess what I just found?”

“No way.”


I closed my phone.  Leaned back in my chair.  Gazed up at the ceiling.

“Thank you, sir.  Voice inside me, sir.”


I held the phone with my shoulder as I washed dishes. 

“Hello, Sunshine,” my husband said.

“Um, we have a problem.”

I heard his breath hiss out through his nose.  “What now?”

I rinsed my favorite pottery mug.  It’s pale aqua, celadon actually, with a ditch for my thumb and a dragonfly impression beneath the handle.

“I kinda, sorta  . . . misplaced the—“

Another angry nose noise.  “What did you lose now?”

I put the cup on the drying rack.  Petted the dragonfly with my Playtex rubber-gloved finger.

“The tax return,” I said.  “I stamped it.  Took it to the post office and everything.”

Huff.  “You’re kidding.  Tell me you’re teasing.  Wait a minute.  Is it April first?”

I shook my head, even though he couldn’t see me.  “No.  It’s not April Fool’s Day.  No such luck.”

“Dang it!  We’re getting back, like, $2,000.”

I pushed my lower lip out.  Pinched the bridge of my nose ‘cause it felt all prickly.

“Did you call anybody?”

I straightened and nodded.

“I did.  The High Street post office lady.  The one who always wears a Pittsburgh Steeler jersey on Fridays.  She said maybe someone’ll find it, be nice, and put it in the outgoing mail.”

Snort.  “Yeah, right.”

I grinned and paced as I waited for my husband to answer his phone.

“Guess what?” I said.

“What?”  His voice was still flat.  Even though the missing tax return debacle was a week old. 

“Please don’t be grumpy,” I said.  “I have good tidings.  She has it!  The Pittsburgh Steeler post office lady has our tax envelope.  The guy who changes the rugs every week found it this morning.  It was under the runner in front of the outgoing mail slot.”

“Thank God!  And . . .  sorry.  I was--”

“I did.  I know.”



I slung my jean jacket on the settee in the foyer before I answered the phone.


It was my friend, Diana, from home group.  We’d just said goodbye, not even five minutes ago.  At the school, down the hill.

“You missing something?”

I tilted my head.  “I don’t think so,” I said.  “Like what?”

“Uh, like your son?”

My mouth fell open.  I put my hand over my heart.  Pound, pound.

“My little guy?”

I spun in a circle.  Pointed at people.  Oldest daughter, husband, middle child, her best friend.  No son.  No man boy of mine.

“You left him down here,” Diana said.  “At the school.  After the show.”

I bonked my forehead with my palm.  “Dang it!” I said.  “I’m such a bad mom.  I counted heads.  Got the right number, but the wrong kid.”

I grabbed my keys and jean jacket.  My husband stepped between me and the door. 

"I'm gonna get him.  You stay here with the others."

I whimpered but moved aside.  Watched him flip through the keys on the fish-shaped key rack.  Then he put his hands deep in his pockets--pants and coat.  All the while I heard his mutters.  Words like loser and responsibility and grown up

I followed him into the kitchen.  He dumped out his lunch bag on the counter.  Smacked the containers this way and that.  He went over to the key rack by the back door.  Sorted through each peg.  That's when I got it.  And grinned.

I walked into the dining room, to my secret hiding place.  Where I stash really important stuff--extra front door, back door, and car keys, and my debit card, when I remember to put it there.

I returned to my husband.  Held out a key to his car.


He enclosed it with his fist.  It took him a second to lift his eyes to mine. 

"Oh.  Thanks.  And . . . I'm--"

"You're welcome, and . . . I know."


wvdiane said...

I was going to be all cozy bloggy and ask you if you're a loser too. Instead, I'm going to direct you to my daughter's blog. She's on a mission trip in Honduras and I think her most recent post is her best to date. You can find her at:
Don't miss the very first sentence (It's on top of the illustration).


Very very funny. I am the girl you are speaking of. Of course I lose things. Daily, I lose my glasses and I have two working pairs. Constantly. My keys and I have a 12 inch pink ribbon attached to them, bought by my grand daughter Sam so I won't lose them. Ha ha ha. I've lost children, coats and lately since I'm wearing scarves I lose a scarf everywhere I go. ONe stayed at the boot shop 2 months waiting to be retrieved - I now have it back! So yes, I can I-D-E-N-T-I-F-Y. And to the hubby whom we must always share our bad news with. Bless you. Off to check Josie's blog. Thanks for her too.

Janet, said...

We're are always losing things and can't find them. My husband especially (tee he). He, of course, blames me for putting them somewhere when I am cleaning up.

Laura said...

You have so many yummy stories! You know, this forgetting? I call it benign dementia of the mommy type. Keeping track of everyone else's stuff has its drawbacks...

wvdiane said...

Very intersting that you say that, Laura. I weeded one related "story" from this blogpost, but I'll say it now. My family doc has an informal theory. He believes mothers lose approximately 10% of their ability to concentrate with each child that is born. That means I'm operating at 60% of my original capacity. That "feels" better to me than worrying that I have early onset dementia:o

wvdiane said...

And now I've lost my math ability too. I'm working with 70%, due to my three children. Wonder if pets decrease your level of focus too? If so, I'm in trouble since we have two dogs, two guinea pigs, and three bunnies!

wvdiane said...

Glory hallelujah! Guess what I just did? Terminated word verification from the commenting process! Hope this makes things easier for you all;)


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