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October 03, 2022

Oort Cloud Oddities: Key Ring Synergy

By Alexandra Queen

Marriage is a mysterious thing.

It's fun how a normal quirk in one person can combine with a normal quirk in a second person and, over the time span of a lifetime together, combine to create an insanity that outsiders find boggling.

I used to watch my grandparents with confusion. My grandmother would plant things everywhere around their yard. Why would you plant a row of forsythia bushes smack in the middle of the lot? My grandfather would habitually run over her plants with the rider mower. How could you miss and accidentally mow an entire row of forsythia bushes?

I have a feeling there's more there than meets the eye. And I know this because several times a week, I have to enter my house by either climbing over the fence or through a window.

My toddler has grown very good at sitting precisely where Mommy tells her. She will wait on the front porch and clap for me as I pop a screen off and shove my way past almost two hundred pounds of toothsome, wagging dogs in order to crawl through the window. She cheers as I curse at the dogs and try to catch the cat before he bolts to freedom. She watches happily while I reapply the screens. And she never, ever repeats any of the names I call Daddy under my breath while I'm doing it.

Why do I do this? Because I have lost the house keys. All of them. How did this happen? Because my husband takes them off the key rings.

Wha-a-at? Why would someone do that??

Because they have to share keys with me.

Let's start at the beginning. I lose things. All my life, if it hasn't had a neon sign emblazoned above it (and often even when it has), I have not been able to find it. Keys, wallet, shoes, check book, name badges, vaccination records, medical cards, hairbrushes, homework, my pants. All disappear from my mind the minute they vanish from my sight.

"What were you doing when you saw it last," my husband tries to help me now.

"I was thinking about Jim's latest story. It's got a really intriguing premise and I'm looking forward to seeing how he develops it over the course of the..."

"But you had your keys in your hand, right?"

"I guess so."

"Well where did you put them?"

"If I knew that, they wouldn't be lost, now would they?"

John is a good man. He has yet to strangle me. "Okay. Let's start over. You came in the door thinking about Josh's manuscript..."

"Jim. Josh doesn't normally have me proof his stuff."

I've always thought my husband looked particularly handsome when all the hair on the back of his neck stands on end and that vein starts to bulge in his forehead.

"And then what did you do, sweetheart." I'm not sure why he shows his teeth when he calls me that, though.

"Then I got to thinking about what I need to do to Ozzie before it gets serialized."

"And where were you when you did that?"

"I'm pretty sure I was here at home."

To counteract this propensity for losing things, I tend to fasten important items to other, larger items. When we first met, my keys were attached to a ring that was larger than the car I drove. It had numerous fobs of unusual design and dozens of keys. Keys to my house. Keys to the houses of friends and families. Keys from locks that had been changed decades ago. Keys that went to gym lockers in Beirut and roller skates in Nantucket. Car keys, skeleton keys, Florida keys, Alicia Keys, all of them crammed on the same nebula of metal.

I never lost it. I couldn't lose it. I couldn't even break free from its gravitational pull; I just orbited it happily and occasionally swatted attempts to build an international space station around it.

Once we got married, we consolidated keys. Or rather, my fob assimilated all the keys John had in his possession. That was when I started getting locked out of the house. My need not to lose a key ring was interfering with John's need to be able to put a key ring in his pocket without the weight of it immediately causing his pants to plummet down around his ankles.

It would have taken years to remove the unnecessary items from the key ring, so he simply slipped the important keys off the Key Chain Nebula.

And then I, being unable to find my backside with both hands on a good day, promptly lost the keys. Every time. Every day.

Just like I can't figure out my grandparents and their gardening practices, no one else can figure out why we lose our keys or why they're not kept on a key ring.

It's just synergy, baby.

Article © Alexandra Queen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-10-30
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