Born To Lose

So my fellow traveler of 29 years and I are just back from vacation. ‘took a river cruise through Holland and Belgium with a 3-day stay in Amsterdam. It was the height of the tulip season. Millions, literally, of tulips were in bloom. And not the ones we see in the neighbor’s yards in the Northeast and Mid-west. There are hundreds of varieties of tulips and multiple variations on each theme. Not only does this provide for spectacular viewing but also for neat presents. We bought daughter and son-in-law a “variety pack” of 101 bulbs of double leaf, multi-color tulips. Glad I don’t have to dig the holes…

And of course, Belgium equals chocolate, lots of chocolate, lots of superior, melt in your mouth, “damn that’s good!” chocolate.

As with most vacations, we went through the standard four stages: packing panic, airport excitement, “oh dear its almost over, and “holy mackerel we’ll need a vacation by the time we get unpacked and through all the mail and newspapers that have piled up!” For me though, there’s something else. Look at the title.

I never take my wallet on vacation. I take out of it what I need, add the money, and have it all cinched around my waist in a money belt. I’ve never been pick-pocketed, which is well worth the embarrassment of almost having to get undressed getting to the money belt to pay for something.

Before I leave I resort to my mother’s favorite trick that I suppose is right to mention today on Mother’s Day. My mother had a few “safe places” where she would hide things of value that weren’t valuable enough or needed too often to put them in the safety deposit box. When asked where something was she’d respond, “I put it in a safe place.” The problem was that between entry and exit she mostly forgot where she put things. That trait has been genetically passed down to me. I was born to lose things.

I decided to follow my mother’s teachings after enough scoldings and occasional beatings when I actually did lose things. For instance, I’d go through three or four windbreakers during an average teenage year. On the way home, I’d invariably get into a street game. I’d lay my jacket on the handiest car. One of two things would happen. The car would either drive off while I wasn’t looking or the game would end and I’d have forgotten I’d had a jacket at all and leave without it. When I realized that and went back for it, it never once, ever, was still where I’d left it. As I grew older and matured (it’s my column, I can flatter myself), I decided I needed to take better care of stuff. Comes now the wallet.

It was two days after arrival that I remembered I didn’t have it. In a nano-second, I realized I had put it in a safe place. It was only a nano-second more that I realized I couldn’t remember where that safe place was. So begins the hunt. We have a safe. It’s small and not bolted down; it will be next week. I rarely put anything in there because a) I have a bad neck and positioning myself to access it in its own safe place made perfect for a midget hurts like hell b) I can never remember the combination and c) any thief worth his or her salt can just pick it up, take it away, and then have all the time in the world to have a beer and figure out how to open it. So the logical place for my wallet, the safe, is not where it would be.

I had a mental image that I had hidden it in my desk, which actually is my father’s old desk. It’s an antique and not very big. Five separate passes through every nook and cranny have produced nothing but allergic sneezes from dust.

‘been through all my sports coats, actually everything that has a pocket. Done that twice. The second time the pockets were as empty as the first. I’ve taken to humming,  I’ve been three times through whatever you call that thing under the bathroom sink. I has 8 drawers no one deep enough to hold a wallet or with enough space in it left for the wallet because of what else I’ve stuffed in there. I’ve taken to humming, “Where oh where has my little wallet gone?” as I’ve gone through the sock drawer, the underwear drawer, and the drawer where I throw everything else I don’t know where to put at the moment. We’re four days home and I am still wallet-less. Our house is of moderate size and realistically the wallet is going to turn up in the back 25% of it. Hopefully it will do that soon. One of the cards I didn’t take is my COSTCO card because there are no COSTCO’s in Europe. In about a week I’ll need gas and supplies…so I’m 7 days and counting.

I’ll be ok for the week. I’m sort of used to this but what really makes me nuts is my problem with passwords. That will come another time. In the meantime, thanks to country legend Hank Snow for writing his multi-million seller sob-saga “Born to Lose” so that I would have a title for this gem.



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