Lost in the Shuffle by
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Prompted By Lost and Found

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In my house, it is my husband who is always losing things, not I. He misplaces his phone or his wallet, his keys or his glasses, and then asks me to find them for him. I always do. He says that my uterus is like a homing device. This is a concept he claims he got from Nora Ephron, although my internet research credits the idea to two other women. Marlo Thomas complained about her husband Phil Donahue always asking her to find things for him because “men think women have radar attached to our uteruses.” Roseanne Barr said that husbands think their wives know where everything is, “like they think the uterus is a tracking device.” I don’t know if one of them stole the idea from the other, or if they each came up with it independently. Nora may have said it too, but if so, the quote has been lost.

In my house, it is my husband who is always losing things, and asking me to find them for him. And I always do.

To give an example of how my husband loses things, he used to have a black wallet, and would frequently have trouble finding it. Sometimes it was in plain sight, sometimes it had been pushed into a dark corner, but I always managed to find it for him. He concluded that the problem was that it was black, and he needed to get one in a bright color that would be more easily visible. So then he got a bright blue one. One day he couldn’t find the blue wallet. It turned out he had dropped it on the blue carpet in my son Ben’s room, and then couldn’t see it because it blended right in. Of course I saw it as soon as I walked into the room, although I only looked in Ben’s room after not finding it in any other room of the house.

His iPhone gets lost (really just misplaced) almost every day. Thank heavens he now has an app called Find My iPhone. When he activates it, the phone starts beeping. He can also see on his computer what general area the phone is in, so he knows whether it is in the house (usually the case), in the car, or at a restaurant or store he has recently visited. Assuming it is in the house, I can follow the sound as soon as it starts beeping, and my ears lead me right to it. He has a harder time figuring out where the beeping is coming from, because his hearing is not that acute. But the app works so well, at least when he has me to help, that I have told him he needs to figure out how to get apps called Find My Wallet, Find My Car Keys, and Find My Glasses (also another app called No, Not Those Glasses, the Other Ones).

  • * * *

As for me, what I’ve lost is my balance. Recently I have fallen twice for no apparent reason. The last time, ironically, I was on my way to a doctor’s appointment. The appointment was with a neurologist, to whom I was referred for the neuropathy in my feet that I have had since April. I was walking along the sidewalk, and just suddenly tripped. I don’t know if there was an uneven place there or not. My body started falling forward, and without thinking I sped up my feet in an attempt to catch up with my head and straighten myself up before I fell. But no luck. And because I was running, I probably fell harder than I would have otherwise. How annoying! My first thought was, I sure hope nobody saw that. My second thought was OUCH! The sidewalk was really hard. The previous time I fell it was in the park, so I fell on grass. Definitely a better experience. But I didn’t break anything either time, just got a few bruises, so no need to feel sorry for me.

The neurologist said he didn’t think my falling had anything to do with my neuropathy. But then again, he also said that he thought I should go on the South America eclipse trip in December, which I have pretty much decided to cancel. So I’m not sure I have that much confidence in his opinion.

That brings me to all the things I’ve lost this year because of Covid-19. The eclipse trip, which included time in Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina, plus a side excursion to Macchu Picchu in Peru —  really the trip of a lifetime. I also lost Molly’s college graduation. A family summer reunion. The Cambridge Admissions Conference in October, where I am getting an award, but now only virtually. Basically a whole year lost because of Covid-19.

I also feel like I’ve lost my sense of calmness and well-being. For four days last month, watching the Democratic Convention, I actually felt good about my country and my life. I found what had been missing for the past three and a half years. But now I’ve lost it again. We’ll see what happens on November 3rd.

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Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Suzy, I like your idea of going beyond “find my iPhone” to an app for finding everything that your husband misplaces. My husband will blame ME for the things he can’t find (he will claim that I’ve mis-filed things, when in fact, he left them in the wrong place on his desk, after I’ve looked through every drawer in my study). But, like you, I am always the “finder” in our household.

    I continue to think/worry about your feet, but haven’t wanted to bug you about them. Hope they are better. I understand about things lost due to COVID. We gave up what sounded like a great cruise around Spain, Portugal, France, and up to London, where we would have had a nice visit with David last April/May. And a visit with Vicki in early April. We don’t know when we will see our children again. Other trips (to nephews’ weddings, the Nantucket Film Festival, etc)…gone. One wedding has been postponed, the other one, coming up in six weeks, seems to be in chaos right now. My 50th high school reunion – postponed to next year. So I empathize entirely.

  2. John Shutkin says:

    Great story Suzy, especially as you went from the mundane (your husband’s inability to find things) to the significant (the loss of your balance, the scheduled events over these past months and, perhaps most importantly, any feelings of calm during the Trump Error). I am glad you are feeling at least a tentative sense of finding again with the upcoming election. Of course, I completely share your sentiments on this.

    Let me also note that I have heard before that women are better at finding things than men. Call me skeptical. And, if so, how come they so often find jerky men?

    One silly question. I know there are plenty of apps for finding one’s iPhone. But why not just call its number from another phone and listen for the ring?

    • Suzy says:

      To answer your silly question, many people (including me) keep their phones on vibrate, so you wouldn’t hear the ring if you called it. Also, I think the pinging sound of the app probably travels farther than a ringtone. And if the phone is in the car, or you left it at a friend’s house, the app will show you on a map where the phone is located.

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    In our marriage, it is my husband who has a remarkable capacity to find things. So much for the uterus theory. There are small tracking devices for keys and glasses, but it looks like you have that covered with your great detective skills. And I totally feel the way you do about all of the losses from Covid-19. Just trying to find my sanity and hope these days.
    PS — Sorry about the falling. I tend to do that as well.

    • Suzy says:

      Laurie, I think your husband is the exception that proves the rule (I’ve never understood that expression about proving the rule, but I do think he is unusual in that regard).

      It shouldn’t make me feel better to learn that you fall too, but it does. As long as we both don’t break any bones, we should be fine.

  4. I LOVE this story, Suzy…sooo YOU!!! You had me laughing out loud before I even had my first cup of coffee this morning. I, too, am losing it….I’ve lost my patience and am in danger of losing my faith in humanity if things go wrong in November.

    I’ve always been good at finding things, too…now I know why. I had no idea it was physiological.

  5. Marian says:

    I agree, Suzy, there must be something in our uteruses, or more likely brain wiring, that helps women find things. Dick loses items all the time and often blames me, but he has a spontaneous system of just leaving them wherever he used them last, so that’s where I look. I think mothers are even better at finding things than those of us who didn’t have kids.

    My empathy for your feet and balance, Suzy. I hope you and medical professionals will be able to figure things out. Let’s hope we all can regain our balance, both physical and psychological, after November 3.

    • Suzy says:

      Of course it is more likely to be brain wiring, but it’s funnier to attribute it to our uteruses. And you make another good point, years of finding things that my 3 kids had misplaced was good training for finding my husband’s lost items.

  6. Suzy, thanx for the humor, I hadn’t heard about the uterus as tracking device, but have heard of the universally defective MALE CORNEA!

    I once saw a wonderful cartoon DRAWN IN BLACK AND WHITE, , wish I could find it!
    A man stands in front of an open fridge, and on each shelf is a rectangle DRAWN IN BRIGHT YELLOW, the only spots of color in the cartoon.

    The caption reads HONEY, WHERE’S THE BUTTER?

    (Wish we could hold on to the humor, but then there is your sobering reminder of our Nov 3 fears.)

  7. Jeez, Suzy. I envy you for two reasons. First, you get to find all your husband’s lost stuff. Second, I’ve never been able to find anything at all using MY uterus! There must be something wrong.

    The balance thing is alarming and painful. Ouch is right! I’ve found that leggy exercise helps the balance thing, more a matter of muscles than of neuro lapse. Also, not drinking the ENTIRE bottle of wine greatly contributes to stability.

    I thought your final section was very profound. I am constantly catching up short with shock when I think of another activity or connection that I have lost in the rush away from covid. It’s as if I took all of it for granted in the urgency of the first few months. Now, the effects of losing all these lost events, get togethers with friends, relations, students, restaurants, concerts, the theater, a night at the movin’ picture show are becoming more impactful. I sometimes feel that we are at war, a sensation that is more than doubled as we reach D-Day in World War Trump.

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