Janet Sheridan: Puzzles worth pondering
March 19, 2015
Some time ago, I wrote a column candidly confessing my inability to solve life's mysteries. I hoped you, my readers, would contact me with possible solutions so I could sleep. You didn't. So I've decided to give you a second chance with the following perplexing situations.
Why am I always the last to know? Seriously. It never fails. I gape, bug-eyed with amazement, while others reveal amazing details about Santa Claus, how babies are born, why Nancy stopped going steady with Ben, or the real reason a co-worker quit. I never, ever, know. Just once, I'd like to be the first to say, "Hey, did you hear about Bitsy's problem with bedbugs?"
My husband also baffles me. Why is he surprised when he doesn't clear airport security because of the fingernail clippers in his pocket?
The approach to security features numerous signs telling travelers how to avoid being thought a terrorist, hints that are easy to understand and comply with such as "Empty your pockets." A TSA agent reminds people about their pockets just before they enter the screening devices, and I repeat it to Joel. He sees the signs, hears the agent, pretends to hear me, enters, and gets beeped.
He then turns back, bewildered. The agent says, "Sir, did you empty your pockets? Are you carrying a cell phone, coins, pocketknife, nail clippers?" At which point, Joel, surprised, slaps his pocket and confesses to clippers.
Maybe he didn't get enough attention as a child.
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Another riddle: I like to try new recipes that require unusual ingredients. Why, when I'm too far into the process to retreat, do I invariably discover I don't have a key component: shrimp, eggplant, coconut milk? Items my neighbors wouldn't have on hand and for which I know no substitute? If you see me storm into City Market, wearing a frown and cooking splatters, I'm on a mission. Move.
Why do appliances tend to collapse into uselessness within weeks of each other? It's as though they all fall victim to a contagious disease. First, the washer rattles into a death spasm, then the dishwasher begins knocking and shaking beyond recovery. Next the refrigerator quits cooling, and the oven refuses to heat above 275. Soon, caught up in the mass hysteria, the coffee pot spews coffee everywhere, inspiring the vacuum to cough dust and die. We didn't buy them at the same time, so why do they die in droves?
Another plot plagues me. Sometimes, early in the morning, I sneak outside in a shabby bathrobe to get the paper with warped hair and sleep lines creasing my face. As I scurry toward my prize, a fellow walking his dog calls "Good morning!" while a friend drives by, honking and waving, and a neighbor, fully clothed and groomed, emerges in search of his paper. How do they time it so well?
And finally: When a day or afternoon arrives with no obligations, pressing chores, or husbandly crises, so I can do those things I want to do, but haven't found time for, why do I fritter away the precious hours without accomplishing anything? Last week during an unobligated afternoon, I planned to impose organization on our attic storage space.
Instead, I rearranged my houseplants to hide their flaws, liked posts on Facebook to avoid commenting, and stared out the window to see if a parade would pass by. I wasted my last 30 minutes of free time poking ineffectually at the jumble in the attic and despairing.
Now the rules: I will track the number of solutions each reader offers and announce a winner, if not a prize. I'll also offer five bonus points for anyone who can explain why my mouth automatically opens when I apply mascara and double bonus points for explaining why, nearly three months after Christmas, my brain still belts out Feliz Navidad.
Sheridan's book, "A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns," is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at http://www.auntbeulah.com on Tuesdays.