My pocket date book was gone. Now I never lose anything. Oh there was that yellow, sleeveless Dickey’s t-shirt in Tilden Park two months ago, but you know what they say. How much noise does a yellow t-shirt make if it falls in a forest and no one hears it? No, I am too obsessive to lose anything. But I have begun finding things in strange places. My keys under my Raiders cap in the hall closet. My watch in the medicine cabinet beside the Desanex.
Normally my date book sits on the right hand corner of my desk – a foot from where I am typing at this moment – beneath my spiral bound pocket notebook, west of my precisely alined ballpoint pens. When I leave for the office, I place both books in my inside right jacket pocket. (Two pens, a comb, and clip-on sun glasses go in my inside left pocket, and my cell phone in my outer right, joining two hard candies already in residence.) If I am wearing a jacket without this pocket – or not wearing a jacket – I improvise. A shirt may come into play. My shoulder bag is available. I am not as rigid as my wife would have you believe. Adapt, move or die, Mr. Farraday instructed in 9th grade biology.
But Thursday morning, when I went to leave, my date book was missing. I looked on my desk (mess), the adjoining table (larger mess), the floor (lesser mess). Not a brass farthing of luck. I checked the drawers into which I might have knocked it. Not a smidgeon. I searched my shoulder bag’s sleeves and pockets. Nada. I had not gone to the office Wednesday, so I searched the pockets of my Tuesday jacket. I searched many of these places again; some I searched a third time. My wife, hearing the sound of thrashing and objects falling, inquired. When she measured my howl and disarray, she withdrew. I registered no mood for “It’ll turn up.” Okay, I thought, you probably left it on your desk at the office. You logged an appearance and forgot to replace it. For the life of me, I could not remember what that appearance was. Which was, itself, unnerving.
The weird thing was that this loss bothered me more than the death of my Uncle Heshy earlier that week. Not that he and I were close. He was, maybe, my fourth favorite uncle out of six. I had not seen him in three years. I had probably not spoken to him when I had. “How’s California, Robert?” he may have said. “Fine,” I would have answered. But he was the last relative of that generation. The news, an e-mail from my brother, had made less of an impression than reading in the Times’s news the same morning that Isaac Bable’s widow had died (Who knew she even lived? Why had not Stalin shot her?) – or learning the following that Eddie Fisher had died in Berkeley (How had he ended up here, instead of Hollywood or Vegas? Why had I never run into him, me in my 1982-83 Sixers World Championship tee, he in his Whiz Kids? We could have discussed the Horn & Hardart’s Children’s Hour). If Heshy was alive, I might have asked him about “Boardwalk Empire.” Except for Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy, that was not an Atlantic City of which I had any memory. What were those murderous gangsters and premature babies doing on a boardwalk where I had known only ski ball and miniature golf? I had learned much of what he, his sisters and brothers had kept from me, but not everything. Questions flooded across questions. Shadows darkened shade.
The date book was not on my office desk. I had a phone message from a young man who had fled Bosnia to fall, twenty years later, forty feet from a ladder at 11th and Jackson and undergo four – or was it five – spinal surgeries. I had one from the tattooed metal fabricator/ artist, whose truck had rolled four times in the Nevada desert while on the job for Burning Man. But I still lacked it.
The lost date book was not a calamity. My desk calendar holds nearly all its entries – nothing social, but I have fewer soirees and salons on tap than doctors’ appointments. And I have a spare date book, into which I can copy these in case of just such an emergency. (Have I mentioned that I am obsessive?)
When I returned home, I resumed my search. Perhaps believing my date book had been in the office had compromised my previous efforts. Again, my desk, my table, my drawers... Then I thought, What about the jacket you wore WEDNESDAY!!!
It was where it should have been – inside right pocket – except it should not have been there. I never put it in a pocket unless I am going to the office. And since I had, why hadn’t I included my spiral notebook, since one always accompanied the other?
Was that a draft from the chasm, or had someone left an open window?
Causes Bob Levin Supports
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, ACLU, PEN, Berkeley Emergency Food & Housing Project.