“I’ve got to stop being such a loser,” my daughter, then a precocious 7-year old wailed.
Alarmed, I few into motherly action. “You are NOT a loser. Who told you that?” I demanded, doubtless scrambling to gather my pitchfork and torch in anticipation of paying a midnight visit to the offender.
“Mom, I lose things all the time,” my precocious child answered matter-of-factly. “I AM a loser.”
True, we were on the tail end of an episode focusing on the recovery of a shoe, a handbook, and possibly a patch-adorned vest so she could attend her weekly AWANA club meeting. And, I was forced to concede, many of our waking hours were invested in response to All Points Bulletins for runaway papers, borrowed literature, and stray accessories.
Many years have passed and my daughter has blossomed into a beautiful young woman. She’s a smart, witty, up-and-coming baker making plans for culinary school and—you guessed it, she’s still a loser. Which is why I wasn’t surprised in the least when she came downstairs a few mornings ago, shuffling through stacks of dining room detritus, sighing heavily.
“Have you seen my red folder with the chef’s hat logo?” The Baker asked, casually.
I hadn’t, at least not in the three weeks that had passed since we received the folder during a visit to the Culinary Institution behind the chef’s hat logo. I told her as much, and went back to my work, figuring it would all pass.
Rather than passing, the search intensified. Couches were overturned. Bookcases were scoured. There was talk of some sort of deadline. And my usually stoic daughter’s demeanor was crumbling faster than a shortcake cookie in a toddler’s fist.
It seems the red chef-logo folder contained The Only Existing Copy of her only reference letter, and Someone at the School of the Red Chef Logo was waiting for it with the kind of expectation typically reserved for a sheet of chocolate chip cookies about to pop out of a hot oven.
Now, we all know that once a Missing Item has been out there for more than hour, it’s assumed rubbish; clearly, it’s been thrown away. No matter how unlikely, it’s our Universal Go-to Explanation for All Things Lost. Why, we once had a queen sized blue striped sheet go missing right from the couch where a family member was recovering from a virus, never to be seen again. We assume it’s decomposing nicely in a landfill upstate, although we’ve yet to come up with a working model for how the sheet even fit in a household trash can. But I digress. Suffice it to say, we took the search outside to recycling bin—the trash can equivalent for all pulp based products. Emptied only on a bi-weekly basis, the recycling bin represented the last bastion of hope.
“So do we just go ‘Burbs on the can?” I asked my daughter, in reference to the Tom Hanks movie we’d watched the previous evening wherein Hanks and his neighbors descended upon a garbage truck, tossing trash into the street in search of evidence verifying their suspicion that their creepy neighbors disposed of a corpse.
“Yep,” The Baker answered, tossing handfuls of paper, crushed cans, and plastic jugs onto the sidewalk.
“Not a finger, not a nose,” she mumbled, quoting a disappointed member of Hank’s empty-handed search committee.
A la the film, my daughter suggested we leave the trash on the sidewalk to compost, but we dutifully picked it up and went back indoors.
The Baker shuffled back upstairs, and I scoured my brain for any unturned baking stone. Just as I was about to declare the case as cold as a cup of vichyssoise, The Baker bounded down the stairs.
“It was in the onion!” she exulted.
I pictured the folder nestling just beneath the papery, translucent skins of a very large onion she’d ferreted away in a remote outpost of her disorganized bedroom, and I’m not ashamed to admit that for a moment this somehow made sense.
It only follows that she loses the things with which she spends the most time—and, Baker that she is, it’s not at all uncommon for us to be on Collective Watch for, well, ingredients. We’ve had lively hunts for lost ginger root, searches for wayward spices, and spent a memorable evening hot on the trail of an errant Asian pear.
Indeed, the only detail that gave me pause was just how the ridged folder managed to stay completely concealed within the layers of the spherical bulb. The Baker detected the confusion as soon as it crossed my countenance.
“Oh, not the onion, Mom, The Onion,” she clarified, referencing the witty periodical of the same name as America’s favorite pantry staple. “I picked one up at the newsstand the day we visited the school. “
Of course! That made sense, too. Sounds just like something the loser would do.