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the case of the missing key

 i love my wife.  no, scratch that...i adore her.  i really do.  she is amazing in so many ways and is so good at so many things that she almost always makes me look way better than i really am.  in fact, i often have to work hard to remember what her flaws are, which is really annoying, by the way.  when i do remember them, they are so ridiculous that i seem petty by even mentioning them (she is a heavy-walker, she loads the dishwasher like an intoxicated blind person with a blindfold and a straightjacket on, etc.).

and then something like this happens, and i just have to tell the world.  and by "the world," i mean all 8 of you who will read this.

a couple of weeks ago i took the kids for a walk to the park.  shannon went for a run.  when she was finished, she met us at the playground, and we all walked home together, only to discover that she had locked the door, and neither of us had brought our keys.  this would normally not be a problem, since we keep an extra key hidden under the sole of a golf shoe kept in our garage (okay, not really, but i can't feasibly tell you where we actually keep an extra key...the golf shoe thing sounds like a pretty good idea, come to think of it).  so i went to the proverbial golf shoe to retrieve said extra key, only to find it wasn't there.  i figured it might have fallen out somewhere, since the kids are sometimes using it to get into the house, so i started searching.  by this time it is getting dark and a summer storm seems to be whipping up.  in the midst of the darkness closing in on us, we turned our garage upside down, searching for this key, but we couldn't find it anywhere.  i found the remains of a dead bird, and what appeared to be a pile of creamed spinach, but, alas, no key.

anyone who really knows me knows that by this time, i am more than a little irritable.  my milinovich intensity (read: temper) has ratcheted up to threat level: something's-gonna-blow.  i directed most of this ire towards my sweet children, knowing that they almost certainly were the guilty parties, even though they claimed complete innocence in this matter.  i doubted it, and continued to rant about the importance of not touching our gosh-darned key, and lecture about the need to put things back where they got them.  shannon, meanwhile, observed quietly while i unloaded chastisement on our children.

as the storm neared, we finally realized we weren't going to find the key.  i remembered that there are a million keys inside a locked closet at the church, and i figured that one of them must be the parsonage key.  so i called someone (thank you, Meg!) to let me into the church (since my own keys were also locked in my house), and into the locked closet.  i couldn't find any key to my house there, but i did find approximately 156 unmarked keys, which i proceeded to carry back to my home, where it had by now started raining ominously from a sky that was steel-colored, like an old padlock whose combination has been forgotten or lost, and just sits there to mock you about what you can't get into.  i digress.

none of the keys worked.  but the futile exercise of trying each of them not only gave us 156 moments of false hope, but also allowed the impending storm to creep that much closer.  i finally realized that i was going to have to break into our home, which meant ripping open a screen and trying to lift a window.  the first course of action would be trying to find a window that we might have left open.  as i was about to embark on this mission, shannon mentioned emphatically that the last time we left on a vacation, she had made double sure that all of the windows were locked.  therefore, i wasn't going to find any unlocked windows.


i knew that one of the windows (which has two locks on it) had one broken lock, so i figured of all the locked the windows, this one had the best chance of yielding to my desperate attempts to break and enter my own home.  i got the ladder, and, standing in the pouring rain, proceeded to ruin a perfectly good screen, and try to wedge open the window.  after several minutes of failure, and with neighbors watching disdainfully, shannon approached me to tell me that she had been looking at some of the other windows around the house, and it looked to her like one of the windows wasn't locked after all.  i reminded her that she had just told me that she knew all the windows were locked.  she wasn't impressed with my memory.  i wasn't impressed with hers.

so i moved my ladder to the aforementioned window, climbed the wet metal steps, and ruined another perfectly good screen, only to find this window completely unlocked and ready to be raised.  i called for my son Jackson, who deftly climbed the steps and climbed into the house.  while i was leaning into the open window to make sure he didn't get cut on whatever glass thing fell onto the floor and broke when i opened the window, i faintly heard shannon whisper-yelling from afar (have you ever heard whisper-yelling? can you think of any situation in which whisper-yelling doesn't spell absolute doom?  in what possible harmless situation would you need to simultaneously yell and whisper?  it says, "i need to yell to alert you of something that will probably kill you, but i need to whisper so as not to alarm the thing that is causing all this trouble in the first place."  whisper-yelling is usually just a way to prolong the inevitable:  death by horrific mauling.).  i could hear the anxious edge in her breathy call to me:  SKUNK!  yes, while i'm on a ladder, breaking into our home, presumably because our children can't put a key in a golf shoe, a skunk sauntered by, seeking refuge from the splashing storm, and looking for inventive ways to add insult to injury.  

i wasn't sprayed.  but the situation still stunk.

jackson opened the door, let us in, and, relieved by finally getting into our home and out of the rain, i released the dam of frustration, and really amped up my lecturing about putting things back where you got them, words spoken with such intensity and conviction that i am sure they made a lasting impact on my children (please read that last phrase with the appropriate level of sarcasm).  suddenly, my nearly-perfect wife said something, almost in passing, about remembering that she might have used that key the week before, and couldn't quite remember if she put the key back in the golf shoe or not.

wait, what?

after all of that.  after my lecture-for-the-ages? after raised-voice and finger-wagging condemnation?  sure enough, she went to look for the shorts she had worn on that fateful friday past, and discovered in the right front pocket a key that opens our door.  skunks and shredded screens and storms and several lectures later, we finally found the reason for our summer evening escapade:  mom.

she apologized profusely, and it only took about 10 minutes for me to transition to a frame of mind in which i could laugh heartily about the whole thing.  i promised her i wouldn't be mad about it, and that i would teach her how to fix a screen, if she'd like to learn.  i also promised her that i would share the story with the world, or the half-dozen or so of you who read this.  so there you have it.  the case of the missing key.  it was in mommy's pocket all along.  i guess we all make mistakes. but if we can learn to laugh about them, we will be much happier.

the moral of the story: please don't whisper-yell to me about the proximity of a wet skunk when i'm standing on a ladder in the middle of a storm.  ignorance is bliss.

the other moral of the story:  please don't come to my house looking for a key in a golf shoe.  we have a guard-skunk who will spray you in a second if you even think about it.


Emoly said…
I am SO glad you can laugh about it, because I couldn't stop laughing the entire time.

On a different note (or key as the case may be) are you going to make a fantastic collage out of 156 keys any time soon?

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