“Donald, have you seen my keys? I’ve looked everywhere and they are simply gone.”
“Did you check your purse?”
“Yes. They aren’t there.”
“Then I don’t know what to tell you. I haven’t seen your keys,” my dad said.
This occurred many years — decades — ago when I was in high school. The keys stayed lost for several days. It was not like my mother to lose things and during that time she was constantly on the alert — picking up things and putting them down again, occasionally muttering to herself, even checking unlikely places like the refrigerator and the linen closet. Of course, they couldn’t be there. And they weren’t.
Then one day, mother said “Donald! Where did you find my keys?”
Dad was nonplussed. “I haven’t seen your keys,” he told her.
“Well here they are on my dressing table. I know I looked there. They couldn’t have been there this whole time.”
“Well, I didn’t put them there,” he reiterated.
A friend said he might have been playing a practical joke, but that was not something that our family would do. Just would never occur. Especially something that would cause distress. In the end the mystery was never solved.
Holding her keys and shaking her head, Mother said, “I wonder if I have a poltergeist?”
According to the dictionary, a poltergeist is a noisy ghost that makes rapping sounds or causes disturbances. Mother had told me it was a playful spirit that enjoyed playing tricks. Either way, let me make it clear that I do not now, nor have I ever believed in poltergeists, ghosts, spirits or such. Nor did my family. Which, of course made this all the more puzzling.
And haven’t we all, at some time in our life, lost track of something? Put something down and swear — absolutely swear! — it was right there, but now it’s not?
I recalled this situation a few days ago after I stopped at the Dollar Tree. I bought two new plastic table covers for the dining room table — one white and one green. The nice heavy cream-colored one that had been on there for ages really was too stained to clean. I had to replace it. I wished I could remember where I got it. I’d go by another one — or two or three. But, I digress …
In addition to Dollar Tree, I had stopped at the market, and also at Lowe’s, so I had several bags in my hands as I came into the house.
Now the house is still not totally put together after the last episode of flooding and new floors. I am determined to put things back thoughtfully, go through boxes and sort out stuff that needs to go to the thrift store and what should, really, be thrown out. So much is still sitting in and around the living and dining room, the office and the guest room, waiting to be dealt with. It’s sort of controlled chaos because I have a pretty good idea of where things are. The problem is where they need to be. But I digress…
I cleared off the dining room table, regretfully balled up the nice plastic cloth and stuffed it in the trash can, and turned to the bag with the new plastic cloths. It wasn’t there. Well, I distinctly remember putting it on this chair. But it was gone. Just disappeared. I’d only been in the house a couple of hours, so surely I could reconstruct what I’d done, but even though I looked in all kinds of places — likely and unlikely — the bag with the tablecloths had vanished.
I would have to make do with an older cloth from the linen closet, but for several days I fretted about the tablecloths. Then, just yesterday as I was finally — finally! — clearing stuff off the floor in the guest room, I came across a white plastic bag. “What’s in here?” I wondered. And what do you know — there were the table cloths. I know absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had not brought that bag into this room. But here it was. Inexplicable. Was there a poltergeist playing tricks on me? Certainly not. I’m probably just becoming absent-minded. I don’t think so, of course, but I also don’t think there are ghosts of any sort hanging around my house.
Hey, here’s a thought – maybe it was the cats. Yeah, that’s it. The cat did it.