Monday

July 23rd, 2018

Reflections

Finding humor, but not my keys, in growing old

Sharon Randall

By Sharon Randall

Published Nov. 20, 2014

When you think of growing old, what's your greatest fear?

Do you worry about having enough income to live on?

I worry about that sometimes. But I think, hey, I've been poor before, there are worse things that could happen. I don't know what those things are, but I'm sure there are lots of them.

Do you fear losing your youth and your get-up-and-go, getting all wrinkled and gray and, of all things, uncool?

I don't worry about any of that stuff. It's too late. They already happened to me years ago.

My biggest fear about getting old is simple. I worry that I will spend whatever time I have left wandering the Earth looking for things I can't find. For example:

I can't find my glasses because they're on top my head.

I can't find the glass of water I was drinking because I drank it and put the glass in the sink.

I can't find the keys that I always keep in my purse, because somehow, the first five times I looked for them there, they were nowhere to be seen. Then on the sixth time, when I looked again — after taking apart my car, my house and my sanity — they showed up, in the purse where I always keep them.

I could swear I spend half my waking hours looking for stuff I can't find. And not just my own stuff. My husband's, too.

Recently, he walked out of the bedroom, where he had been putting away his laundry, and said to me (in that accusing tone he always takes when he tries to blame me for losing or breaking something that he lost or broke himself) "Did you do something with my red boxer shorts? I can't find them anywhere."

"Don't fancy yourself," I said. "What would I possibly do with your red underwear?"

"I know you don't like those shorts," he said. "You told me never to buy red ones again."

Allow me to explain. I come from a long line of germaphobic women who firmly believe that some things — sheets, towels and especially undergarments — need to be washed in hot water.

Do you know what happens if you wash something red in hot water? That's right, you end up with a whole load of pink.

"The only thing I have against those red boxers," I said, "is they happen to be red. It doesn't mean I got rid of them."

"Well, I looked everywhere," he said, "and I can't find them."

Talk about throwing down the gauntlet. For some reason, if he says he can't find something, I feel duty bound to start looking.

I looked everywhere. In the hamper. The closet. The dresser drawers. Under the bed. Behind the toilet (you don't even want to know what you can find back there.) In the washer and dryer. I even checked the lint screen.

I gave him a look. "Did you leave those shorts some place?"

He rolled his eyes.

"I'm not accusing you," I said, "I'm just saying. They have to be somewhere. How about the case where you keep your bass?"

He plays bass in a band. Sometimes they play late.

"Be serious," he said.

"Well?"

"They're not in my bass case!"

I checked. They weren't there.

Have you ever spent hours looking for something that cost next to nothing and you're not even sorry that it's gone?

"Tell the truth," he said. "Did you give them to Goodwill?"

"I tried," I said, "but they wouldn't take them."

Finally, we gave up and decided to go in the hot tub to soak off a little frustration.

My husband went to the bedroom to change into his swim trunks. A minute later, he came back laughing.

"Look what I found!" he said, waving the boxers like a flag.

"I don't believe it! Where did you find them?"

"Well," he said, with his face turning almost as red as the boxers, "I was wearing them."

If I lose my mind, will you help me find it?

Sharon Randall
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Award-winning essayist Sharon Randall's weekly column has an estimated readership of 6 million nationwide. Born and reared in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North and South Carolina, Randall grew up in Landrum, S.C., and has lived for 35 years in "California of All Places."

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