Another ‘Don’t -Tell-The-Kids Moment’

By Marilyn L. Pinsky

I was so proud of myself Monday. For about two hours. Then I wasn’t anymore.

This all happened between 9 and 11 a.m., right when I got a major energy surge from the three cups of coffee that I felt I needed after having been up since 3:30 a.m. because I had too many things on my mind and just couldn’t get back to sleep.

The surge allowed me to use my former multi-tasking skills and I was feeling just great that they still worked. I was on a conference call with my cell phone strapped around my waist so I could walk around doing things and still listen and talk. At the same time I was in and out of the den going through a large bag of old VCRs and CDs that my son had decided, when visiting over the weekend, needed to be thrown out and had tossed in a bag for me to put in the garbage.

In between I was taking 10-minute breaks to do weight lifting exercises in the kitchen where I had set up my iPad with a program I could keep starting and stopping. Then I was running back and forth to the garage to take out half of the VCR tapes that I had just thrown out, even though I had nothing to play them on, but couldn’t make myself give up because who knows, even though I hadn’t viewed them for 20 years, what’s really on them that might be important?

At 11 a.m., I jumped in the shower to get ready for my noon doctor’s appointment, feeling so pleased with myself that I had accomplished so much in one morning.

Then I went to grab my car keys and head for the car.

That’s when I turned — in the snap of a finger — from a competent, independent multi-tasker into a frantic old lady searching unsuccessfully for her only set of car keys. I knew I had them in my hand that morning as I needed to open the trunk to take out some other things that I was going to give away and then changed my mind about. And besides, the car was in the garage, so they must be somewhere in the house or I couldn’t have driven it home, right?

I always meant to get a backup set of keys but never wanted to pay the $250 and now the car is 12 years old and I figured eventually I’d be trading it in, so why get a second set given I hardly ever lose them and when I do, always find them eventually in a pocket of something I forgot I wore the day before. So I searched everywhere I had been in the last couple of hours — den, kitchen, garage, car trunk, even looking in the garbage can down to the level of two days worth of garbage. I stopped at the avocado skins from Saturday.

Then, with the time for my appointment ticking away, I said, “Marilyn, you don’t want to miss this appointment as it will take months to get another one, so put on your big girl pants and think this through.” (Will that line still work when I say “Marilyn, put on your big girl Depends….?” Yes, it will.)

So I called a ride service and made it to the doctor with two minutes to spare. Of course, I was a puddle by then but at least an on-time puddle.

Heading back home in another Lyft, I realized that I talk to myself like my kids talk to their dogs. “Good girl, Marilyn; you stayed calm and on schedule. Now for your treat, we’ll have a nice congratulatory lunch of your favorite hot dogs and beans with sauerkraut and then you’ll have time to look calmly for the keys.”

And just like the dogs, I responded nicely.

The hot dogs and beans part went well. The search for the keys, not so much.

I remembered my friends discussing one night, ‘if you have an accident, don’t tell your kids or they’ll want to take your car away.’ So I hesitated but finally called my son to ask for advice. Being that they’re not actually keys, but a remote with a key in it, he said maybe they were in the car and I should try to start the car, then I’d know.

That didn’t work.

Then he thought that even though I had looked before, maybe the keys were in the garbage, so wheel the garbage can near the car and try to start it. No luck there. Then he made a bad joke about putting the garbage can in the driver’s seat to really be sure and for a minute there, I was tempted. He said stay calm and he and my daughter-in-law would come over after work and help me look. That was comforting.

In the meantime, my granddaughter, who is in Albany, texted about something else and I mentioned the key situation. Ten minutes later her boyfriend, who is in Syracuse, came over and we searched the whole house again without luck. Next thing I knew, he was putting on a pair of rubber gloves and the night before the garbage was getting put out, he insisted on going through a week’s worth of garbage, even though I was sure there was no way the keys were in there. And at the very bottom of one of those huge cans that I’m sure they used for Jimmy Hoffa, were my keys. I cried. And then slept for 12 hours straight.