Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Black Hole

Helping Flip find lost objects is a full-time job, and brings out certain undesirable elements of my vocabulary. He is always looking for something, and I feel pressed into service to find it for him so we can all get some peace. Since he rarely puts things back in the same place twice, it can be frustrating. It is never easy .

Just now it was the tiny black cap from a double-ended Sharpie. I spent considerable time out of my life on hands and knees, combing through rugs, before he gleefully announced that it was on his desk. Where it should be. I feel as if I witnessed a special moment in history, as it will never happen again. Luckily, I am not violent.

Earlier, I was obliged to ransack our entire apartment for a Guitar Center receipt which could not be found. I try to contain his vast collection of equipment receipts in a single large file, but sometimes, they get away from me. In this instance, I never did find it, but since they have all his purchases from the beginning of time in their computer, it requires only that we luck out and get a salesman who knows how to locate it. No small undertaking in itself. Except for the guy who looks like Keith Richard, Guitar Center employs mostly very young men who fantasize about being the next Jimi Hendrix while earning minimum wage. No one else could possibly stand the cacophony in that place all day long.

Flip is now rummaging in our largest closet, repository for five toolboxes, a dozen cartons and other items too numerous to mention (if I even remembered what was in there.) This time he was trying to find sandpaper. He knew better than to enlist my services for the third time in less than an hour. Besides, I don't know where it is, either. I have merely mastered the art of looking behind things to find other things. This is an advanced concept that I am not sure male DNA is capable of grasping. At least, not around here. He is always amazed when I move an object a tiiiiiny millimeter and what do you know? The missing item appears. Flip believes that I am magical, but really, I am just a more creative searcher. It has never occurred to him that what he seeks would be anywhere other than right in front of him. If it is not, then it must have fallen off the planet entirely. Otherwise, he understands depth perception as well as anyone.

Sometimes I work this to my advantage. I can hide a box of cookies endlessly by placing them behind another box right in the shelves designated for food storage. He will never be the wiser. Occasionally, this fails. I am always surprised when that happens. The other day, when he bought a case of beer, I bought a selection of Odwalla drinks for myself. I set them in the refrigerator door among other bottles containing maple syrup, ketchup, and walnut salad oil. Imagine my surprise when he drank them all. I had no idea he would even notice them. Next time, I'll hide them behind the beer.

He never tires of our little game of hide-and-seek but seems to regard it as a necessary condition of life, while I have begun to keep a mental dossier of all the time I spend looking for things that are usually hiding in plain sight. For those who are sighted. In some way that I cannot even begin to contrive, he owes me.

We stopped for gas on the way to Guitar Center. The gas cap took that opportunity to haul ass and look for a better home. Did it really think it would fit on a Porsche or a Jaguar? By the time Flip figured out what that sloshing noise was, at nearly $4 a gallon, our gas cap was occupying that special place in hell where so many of our things reside. Even my talent for divining could not locate it. I redeemed myself shortly afterward when I bird dogged his lost sunglasses in Safeway. They were right where I thought they would be, in the chips aisle.

"You could not survive one day without me," I reminded him. "You would never find anything."

"It's not lost on me," he said.


mist1 said...

I can't find the broom. I know, that seems like something that I should know where it is.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I usually park mine in the garage when I get home.

meno said...

Both my husband and my daughter have this same blindness. Sometimes it's fun because it makes me look good, other times it's just irritating.

Great answer to mist1. :)

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I had always assumed it was a Y chromosome thing. I'll have to revise my world view.

flutter said...

I can't find my ass, most times. Oh wait! there it is, that thing mocking me in the mirror ah yes.....

thailandchani said...

This is especially funny since my housemates and I just spent the past 30 minutes searching for a missing phone. One of them mentioned it after three days ~ by which time of course the battery is dead and the locator on the base won't work.

Grrrrr. :)

I finally took Handset #2 and programmed it to Handset #1 ~ said "problem solved".

One of them, the female, looked at me rather adoringly and said, "You found it!"

By now fairly well-trained in Thai customs, I smiled and said nothing.

They'll never know the difference.





Kate S said...

Poor, deluded Susan. My dear, you're forgetting that women come equipped with special tracking devices on their ovaries. Men and children are born knowing this, hence their eyes never evolved enough to see the red sock on the white pillow right next to them. They don't need to.

Accept your fate, sister.

Joan said...

I'm afraid I'm living proof that losing things is not related to the Y chromosome. I seem to misplace things constantly while Hubby is pretty anal about putting things away. Here's the difference though...when I lose something, I'm the one who has to look high and low until I find it. On the rare occasion Hubby loses something, I'm the one who has to look high and low until I find it. Oh wait...something's wrong here...

heartinsanfrancisco said...


If you were Flip, you would just shrug and expect the Ass Fairy to bring you a new one.


You were lucky. When Flip noticed that his cell phone was missing last week, I tried calling it on mine so it would ring. Of course it was dead.

After canceling service to that phone, he found it in the shorts he wore the last time we went to the beach, about a month ago.


It's so good to know that something on my ovaries is still working.

Can red socks make you pregnant?


I think you have made the fatal mistake of disclosing your competence so that Hubby believes you can handle anything.

I'm sure all those years of Dewey Decimal System are to blame.

La Cubana Gringa said...

The Brit has left his laptop at the security check point in the international airport (only to realize it up in the air halfway to Japan), his wallet in a taxi, his cell phone in several restaurants, his ipod in a bar...

...if his brand of forgetfulness is genetic, we are SO adopting.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

La Cubana,

Flip has never been to Japan, but he lost his keys in the Ala Wai Canal, and his wallet shooting rapids.

He has no children. They forgot to be born.

EsLocura said...

I was convinced I lost my cat yesterday, looked and called for him, nada, came back inside, starting to feel all weeping and there he was sitting on the couch looking at me, I swear I walked past that couch and never saw him, perhaps I need new glasses.

QT said...

You have it way worse than I do, sister. While I am regularly recruited to bring things into town that the BF forgets before leaving for work (like, oh, wallets, cell phones, devices needed for plumbing), once he is home he is pretty good.

Now if he would quit moving MY stuff around, I wouldn't spend so much time looking for it.

Kate said...

I feel your pain! I've just moved in with my boyfriend. We have been together for 8 years now, but it's so true that you don't learn everything until you live together.

When we moved, I clearly labeled all my boxes. This would make the unlabeled ones his right? Well, anything that happened to fall out of a box (his or mine) went into the nearest box, regardless of who the box belonged to. Now, 2 months later and a large majority of boxes still not unpacked, we routinely go through a "I can't find my _____" panic attack from him. I am the one who has to go and dig through box after box after box, while he mearly looks ON TOP of each box to see if it is there... Why oh why can't men just look a little harder and find their stuff themselves!!! And why do these crisis' always happen when I am trying to do my hair, paint my nails or cook dinner????

Anonymous said...

I bet there was a very young couple watching you two and thinking: awww honey, we're going to be like that someday.

Stephen said...

Heart, you said:

"Flip has never been to Japan, but he lost his keys in the Ala Wai Canal, and his wallet shooting rapids."

As I recall, he tossed those keys into the Ala Wai. And they were the keys to my car. They weren't lost. We knew exactly where they were.

Josie said...

One of the doctors where I work has a pie chart on his office door entitled “my life broken down into segments”:
25% sleeping
25% working
5% eating
45 % looking for things I had just a minute ago.

velvet girl said...

I'm training my sons to be their own locators and they hate it. When they implore me to help them find something I just tell them that they'll either have to find it themselves or just wait until it shows up.

Mean mommy. ;)

furiousBall said...

Losing stuff is fun isn't it. for some reason, my daughter has that clairvoyance or whatever it is you've got. she can locate any missing toy in seconds, it's really a little creepy, but in a cute helpful way

Kate S said...

Can red socks make you pregnant?

I don't know about that, but I've heard red shoes are often partially responsible.

PS: Velvet Girl - you are doing the women of the future a HUGE favor - good for you!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Your glasses are fine. Cats can become invisible at will. When they finally tire of watching you look for them and the sobbing grows annoying, they let you see them again.

Flip has that effect on inanimate objects.


I have often had to run such a delivery service with forgotten wallets, lunches, and other necessary items.

His moving MY stuff around is a whole other post. That makes me a tad homicidal.


ON TOP of the boxes. That sounds right.

It's a quandary. You know that you're enabling the behavior, but if you don't help, life wil stop for you, too.

Thanks for visiting here. I tried to follow you home, but your profile was unavailable.


More likely, the adorable young couple was watching us and she was thinking, "If we ever get like that, I'll kill him."


On his birthday. Which was sucking. That doesn't happen anymore. I'm the birthday fairy.

I never knew they were YOUR keys. What's with that?

Instead of being Flip's historian, why don't you get over here and help me find everything else that is lost in action?


It's a good thing Flip is not a doctor. Great bedside manner, but he would probably misplace his patients.


What a novel concept. Their future wives will thank you.

My son manages well, but he grew up in a household of females. I'm sure that has something to do with it.


Sometimes, if you can still your mind, the answer will come.

Also, asking yourself where the absolute least likely hiding place is helps, too.


Uh oh. I wear my ruby slippers all the time. Since I'm still not in Kansas, I'm hoping their powers of impregnation are not working either.

Velvet is doing a good thing for her sons, too. Helplessness is demeaning, although sometimes cute.

MsLittlePea said...

So funny. I was reminded of my inlaws. They used to hide maple sugar blocks from each other but it never worked. One would find it- bite off a piece, then hide it somewhere else, each time saying me,"don't say anything if he/she asks where it is."

Me and my Mr. are the opposite too. He's Mr.Organization and I am so things land where they fall. But I never lose things....maybe once or twice.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Sweet Pea,

Usually, I"m glad to help. But when he stashes MY things in places that are way above my head, I go quietly ballistic.

In fairness, though, this is Flip's only fault. And he doesn't do it on purpose.

Anonymous said...

"Flip believes that I am magical, but really, I am just a more creative searcher." Doesn't that make you magical?

Insightful, funny, thought-provoking and some really good writing. I would call that magical.

I like that you have worked this to your advantage at times. It doesn't really matter, afterall. And I love your closer here, just beautiful. A really beautiful ending. That Flip is a lucky guy and it sounds like he knows it.

Ian Lidster said...

In my case it's my wife who puts things 'away' and then never, ever remembers where 'away' is located.
In an episode of the Simpsons a missing jigsaw puzzle piece was found under Maggie's eyelid, so you never know where things will turn up.


Stephen said...

I'm only the keeper of ancient Flip history. I have no idea where that receipt is.

jali said...

My roommate (sigh) Adrian has lost his phone 4 times, always when the ringer is off. He's lost his ID a couple of times and was unable to fly as a result. He loses his cigarettes about once a week and the remote is usually missing.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I haven't yet mastered pouf'ing something into existence that isn't already there, but I'm working on it. THAT will be magical.

If Flip thinks he's lucky to have me, it's because I tell him so all the time.


You've given me another place to look. I would never have thought he would hide things under his eyelids. Many thanks!


I really thought you would know.


Poor Adrian. Flipitis is a sorry affliction.

When we flew to Hawaii a few years ago, he discovered at security that he had lost his license.

They finally allowed us to fly, but checked both of us, even body cavities, every step of the way.

As you may imagine, I was not pleased.

Cece said...

This week I gave directions to find "something" not only from another room, while hanging my head upside down during a blow dry, describing the EXACT shelf, basket and side of the basket it will be on. When that didn't work *rolling my eyes while upside down still* I described the size & color of said object. FOUND IT! is what I heard next. lol What would they do w/o us?

Open Grove Claudia said...

I'm usually in the place of looking for things in our house. My dh likes to "tidy" - which means stuff things out of sight in a fit of anxiety. He has no idea where things go; I have no idea where they end up. I figure it's my fault for leaving anything out - because everything's fair game.

I'm fairly certain I'll take my last breath wandering around looking for the thing I set down here and was moved to.... who knows?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


At least he found it. To do that, you have to remember what you're looking for.

You're lucky.

seventh sister said...

Things disappear in my purse. It is the largest one I have had in years and it has too many pockets. It is also black inside and out so it is dark in there as well. I bought it because it us just the right size to stash my appointment book it but it is driving me crazy.

thethinker said...

He sounds like me.

If I lose something/am looking for something, it's very rare that I'll find it all by myself. It's kind of pathetic, really. But I DO try to search behind things, for the most part.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


All my purses are like the Bermuda Triangle. Size does not matter. Things disappear, never to be seen again.


You get a gold star. Flip does not.

Crankster said...

What a perfect punchline!

I tend to be a little bit of an absent-minded professor, too. My solution has been to find a place for everything in my life.

My solution works about half the time. Still, it reduces the number of times that I have to call my wife in to help!

Jocelyn said...

I love how elegantly-structured this post is, right down to its last line.

Also,you tell these great stories, and I lap them up, but then I get really carried away by your use of especially cool words, like "birdogged." And I love you for it. For example, I still remember your using "grifter" a few months ago, in the "homeless as parking lot guards" post.

Lee said...

Both my boys are legally blind when it comes to finding stuff. Especially in the fridge. WTF? It's a box! It is lit.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


What you've described is the story of my life. Flip neatens up the place by stuffing things out of sight in places that are so illogical that they are rarely considered when I realize that the item is missing.

I have not yet found underwear in the freezer, but it wouldn't surprise me.


I am not naturally neat so i also try to find a place for everything. It simplifies my life and leaves time for more pleasurable pursuits.

Until SOMEONE comes along and refiles things in unlikely places, and what is more, he does so in the spirit of helpfulness, so if I complain, I am not properly grateful.

I am sure Misanthropster is grateful for every time you don't have to enlist her help.


Oh, thank you, thank you. You are much too kind.

I take certain liberties with my native tongue and often turn nouns into verbs, like birddogged.

As for the parking lot attendants, I could as easily have called them "grafters," I suppose, since they are always trying to collect some.


They're not blind. They're wily. It's always amazing to me how manly men cultivate helplessness when it serves them, starting at the ages of your boys.

Lex said...

That special place in hell dons one of every pair of socks I own and 2 cans of air freshener. I have a small apartment and I live alone. There is a vortex. I'm sure of it.
I feel you, Flip.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


There is an evil vortex for sure. I live in it.

And you can feel for Flip, but you sure as hell don't want him rearranging your belongings.

Perhaps your dryer is a socksucker.

urban-urchin said...

my husband and oldest child are like flip. Apparently I too am magical because I get calls at work. "Where's the chocolate milk (RIGHT in front of you)? Did you see my glasses (on your head)?"

If I am not right on the first try they act miffed which makes me want to give them even more wrong suggestions sometimes.... But I'm not passive aggressive.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Flip sounds like me and vice-versa. I'm forever losing things. Perhaps that is why I married a secretary from a previous job.

Spider Girl said...

Usually the ability to lose things/not find things drives me nuts when its in other people. I'm fairly organized.

But I share some sympathy with Flip challenging ways this evening because I was looking for something in the fridge tonight...looking...searching..and was apparently staring right through it because the wanted item was RIGHT in FRONT of me.

And somebody else had to pint it out to me.

Sigh. Oh well. :)

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Chocolate milk is sneaky. You never know where it's going to turn, er turn UP.

There must be a book somewhere, "The Joy of
Passive-Aggressiveness." Many people use it as a manual. Don't knock it if you haven't tried it.


I hope you pay her a lot.

Spider Girl,

You've got to watch out for those shape-shifters in the fridge. When you close the door, they turn green on you and you can't recognize them.

Sienna said...

Wear the socks anyway Lex, don't let them win, wear them even if they are not a pair...if you only have one then take another from it's mate, and if they have holes in them, turn them upside down and wear the holes upside.

It is a very satisfying feeling to win the sock war.

No need to slip into the sock vortex, act like nothing is wrong.


Kevin Charnas said...

I used to be a social worker and hated watching people in the system fall through the cracks, so I had a rather large case load. It drove me batty.

I couldn't find my pager. It was in the refrigerator.
I couldn't find the toilet paper that I had recently purchased.
It was in the crisp drawer in the frig.

Now, when all else fails, I look in the refrigerator.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It sounds as if you've given the sock situation a great deal of thought. I'm sure that Lex is grateful for your advice. As am I.

Items that come in pairs, socks, gloves, earrings, sometimes even shoes, seem to actively seek to divorce one another as soon as they come into my possession.


Flip's aunt kept her Will in the freezer. I guess that's kind of like cold cash.

I haven't found toilet paper in there, though. And if Sheryl Crow has her way, we won't be able to buy it anymore. The ninny.

Laurie said...

My son is the exact same way. He has lost his wallet so many times that I've threatened to buy him one with a GPS unit. He's lost his keys, his coat, his cell phone and his bluetooth headset, and that is just this week. The one thing he doesn't lose is his way...I have the corner on that market.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Remember how we used to attach their mittens to their snow suit cuffs with diaper pins? There must be some way to do that with wallets, Blackberries, etc.

Your hometown looks so peaceful. Enjoy your visit!

Molly said...

I know my husband has lost something when he starts with "Where did you put my....?" Genetically incapable of seeing something if it's not in its usual place. Even if it's under his nose....

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Flip doesn't usually ask for help. He just makes exasperated sounds while ransacking the place, and I get up like a zombie and start aiding and abetting.

Pendullum said...

I'm the one who usually loses things... however,I am the one who always finds what I have lost...I wish I had you living aaround the corner...

Hel said...

Haha. Florian spend ten minutes looking for his shoes yesterday and then I found them in the cupboard where I told them they would be.

But two days ago I spend so long searching for someting I eventually forgot what it was and found myself wandering from room to room trying to remember what to look for. I use lack of sleep as my excuse.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You need a wife.


When I do that, I go back to where I was when I first formed the thought, and it usually comes back to me.

Liz said...

And wouldn't you just totally freak out if that gas cap just suddenly reappeared one day? That's the kind of stuff that happens to me sometimes.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Oooooo-ooooh, I'm hearing Twilight Zone music in the background.

Someday, when we move, a lot of stuff that Flip "lost" and replaced because even I couldn't find it will probably require its own moving truck.

We have never recovered a lost gas cap, but it could happen.

My heart runneth over... said...

I love this post! lol It always amazes me when people can find things I myself seem to have put in a safe place never to be seen ever again! At least I know it's safr, right? lol

All the best,

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I do that too. I put things in safe places that turn out to be safe even from me. Sigh.

katrice said...

Well Flip and Kwesi were separated at birth, because he loses everything not biologically attached. Unfortunately, my daughter has inherited his inability to locate things.

I have trained myself not to panic for a full two minutes when Kwesi declares, "Where's my..." If I can get through those two minutes, he finds it himself about 50% of the time. Thus, I experience 50% fewer aneurysms each month.

As for the refrigerator, if it's not on the first shelf, Kwesi won't find it. At 6'1" he will not bend to explore the lower shelves.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I like your two-minute rule. I'll try it, probably this morning. It's only a matter of time before Flip loses something again.

He's tall, too. I would have thought that an advantage. It certainly is when MY things are missing because he stashes them in high places that I can't reach.

Flip has never misplaced anything that was biologically attached, either.

I hope your daughter's latent gene from you kicks in soon.