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Mama Key Go?

Written July 2002

(I wrote this short story for the Writing Project -- it was derived from a blurb that I wrote when I was in a silly mood.)

It seems that lately my car keys have had a social life of their own. Sometimes they travel to distant foreign (and sometimes perilous) places like the backyard, the toy box, the bathroom sink, or even the diaper pail. But there's one thing for certain; they are RARELY perched in their proper place. The culprit? My two-year-old daughter.

- Mama key go?
I look down at my daughter as she inquires about my missing car keys. It seems like this routine happens on a weekly basis.
- I don't know Baby... where did they go?
Mama key go? she repeats.

Immediately I begin my "search and rescue" mission by looking in all the usual places. Allie Cat, my daughter, tags along with her yellow plastic binoculars. After a fruitless tour through the house, my search turns to panic. Images of some stranger, like the mail man or the gardener, peeling off in my Honda make my blood pressure rise. In desperation, I crouch down, look Allie Cat square in the eyes and plead, Baby... can you find Mama's keys?

She responds immediately by pointing to the living room couch. Ah yes...THE COUCH. Relief temporarily overtakes me as I have a positive feeling that my keys must be there. Somewhere.

Now before I can continue, I must add that my couch is no ordinary piece of furniture. No sir. Like a beleaguered soldier, it proudly displays milk stains, barf, and spit-up like shiny badges of honor. Seemingly millions of cat hairs cling mercilessly to the cushions, revealing that even our cat, Nenny, holds little respect for this beaten-up sofa. The thought of shoving my innocent hand down into the bowels of my couch sends a chill of sheer terror throughout my body. My focus quickly turns to my husband, Hank, who is napping peacefully.

Querido, you've been drafted, I announce loudly.
For what? Before he can elicit a response from me, I promptly point to the couch.
Mama key go? Allie Cat continues as if on cue.
Oh the keys are lost, huh?

As if on autopilot, my husband reports to duty. He bravely removes the faded, milk-stained cushions and tosses them to the floor. Allie Cat immediately begins bouncing on them, and Hank stoically sticks his hand down into the couch. I avert my eyes as I cannot i-ma-gine ever putting my hands down there.

Ewwww... it's gross in here, Hank proclaims as his hand blindly searches the depths of the couch. I'm not kidding... it's all gooey in here, Hank mutters as he continues his search of the nether regions of the couch. I can tell his expedition is getting serious as he begins skillfully using his body weight to depress the couch springs, allowing his hands to venture deeper into this black hole of a couch. Allie Cat peers closely with great interest, and I anticipate the awaited reunion with my keys.

After twenty minutes of deep searching, we find ourselves amongst a large pile of crap. Here is the unabridged list of the 37 items we found inside our couch on Monday, July 15, 2002.

1. 2" plastic lion.
2. Black Bic Pen - Medium point
3. Golf pencil.
4. Packet of unidentified brackets and nails.
5. Black overhead projector pen.
6. Two small purple spoons
7. 16-month 2002 Mini Calendar titled "Puppies."
8. Green plastic comb.
9. Unidentified aluminum key.
10. Sample-size tube of Eucerin moisturizing cream.
11. Three pennies.
12. Heart-shaped badged, painted by Allie Cat.
13. Leather bookmark.
14. Silver golf ball.
15. Green sateen ribbon.
16. Long Beach Parks and Recreation schedule, Spring 2002
17. "Madeline" bookmark.
18. One peanut, complete with shell
19. Fifteen used Kleenexes.
20. Tiny plastic baby.
21. Watch with eBay logo.
22. Small, smooth black stone.
23. Four elastic hair ties.
24. Two plastic hair barrettes.
25. Green foam letter "J."
26. Blue foam letter "P."
27. American Express financial statement, period ending March 31, 2002.
28. Two Cheerios.
29. One french fry.
30. Twisted piece of plastic wire.
31. Old Navy gift receipt, dated February 9, 2002.
32. Parents Magazine subscription card.
33. Behr Paint chip card with the following colors: "Angora Scarf," Kashmir," and "Foote Path."
34. Torn corner of a receipt from Sam's Club.
35. Broken crayon.
36. Torn piece of a yellow Post-It Note.
and the piece de resistance
37. Packet of "Silicone Lubricant -- FISH SAFE... NON-TOXIC."

Item not discovered inside our couch:

1. My missing car keys.

After rummaging through our pile of loot, Hank and I find ourselves laughing hysterically on the floor. Allie Cat is quietly curled up on the carpet asleep and completely unaware of our treasure trove. We decide to order Chinese take-out, and as Hank heads towards the door to pick up the food, he turns to me, smiles and says, Do you have the car keys?