And there’s peace in my home. To paraphrase Elizabeth Bishop, my husband has mastered the art of losing. This is an honest-to-God incident that unfolded at our dining room table yesterday afternoon:
I’d been out to the mailbox and presented Lou with a tax document from the State of Illinois. He was sitting at the table doing the New York Times crossword, surrounded by the usual detritus — magazines, bills, a calico cat and a coffee cup. He opened the letter, we discussed it, and I topped up my coffee and retired to the living room and my laptop. Ten minutes later I heard a despairing wail from the dining room and the words I’ve come to dread: “It’s gone! Margaret, it’s gone! How can it be gone — I haven’t left this chair!”
I took my Uterine Homing Device to the table and yes, that letter had gone poof! It was like a John Dickson Carr locked room mystery. Lou doesn’t even try to remain calm when he loses something — he rants, storms, and gnashes his teeth. My blood pressure spikes. It’s not good for household cheer.
But the situation has improved exponentially. Friends, we used to suffer through these Shakespearean vignettes fifteen times a day. He was forever losing his reading glasses.
You see, I always know where my glasses are: they’re atop my nose, on my bedside table, or on the vanity while I shower. I’m legally blind without my specs. His long sight is excellent, but about five years ago he started to ask why magazines had shrunk their typefaces. I had a job back then, and Vision Insurance, so I trotted Lou off to the optometrist and got him fitted out with some fancy Italian reading glasses.
They were a disaster from the get-go. The arms dropped off every other week, and I can’t describe in a PG13 blog Lou’s language as , without his glasses on, he attempted to reattach them. We’re talking tiny screws and tiny screwdriver. I found the Italian Job on the bookcase in the bedroom. Cosi:
They were as temperamental as a tenor, and they went AWOL as often as a prima donna on her Positively Last Farewell Tour. Lou found himself in a Dollar Store on an errand — I think I needed a glue stick — and discovered later, in Borders, that the specs had “got lost.” The man at the Dollar Store said no, no one had turned in a pair of glasses. Beating back rage and nausea Lou espied a rack of reading glasses and asked the long-suffering merchant the price. The man rolled his eyes and said, as if speaking to a slow-witted five-year-old, “What’s the name of the store, Mister?” Lou bought a pair on the spot, then found the pricey glasses on the shelf next to dishwashing detergent.
Since then, he’s added to the collection. I rounded these up today, and I know that he keeps a pair in his coat pocket and another in the car.
No longer are our days rendered hideous because he’s lost his specs. These cheapos have never lost a screw. The center pair look kinda dashing, in an Italian design kind of way.
Epilogue: It’s true that he hadn’t left the table, but he did turn sideways in his chair to pull last year’s tax file from the Shaker cabinet behind him. An hour later, in his twentieth search of the file he found the letter. Praise be, because if he hadn’t I was going to hit the gin, and it was way too early for a martini.