Saturday 18 November 2017

So, Who moved my keys?

When a set of missing keys threaten to derail her day's agenda, our reporter looks for a nearby whipping boy

Julia Molony
Julia Molony

Julia Molony

Picture the scene. It's 8.37am on a wet Thursday morning. I have exactly 6 minutes and 37 seconds to get out the door, if I want to make the last possible train that will get me to a 9.30am meeting on time.

So far, it's going well. Shoes are on. Umbrella is in hand. I'm dressed and, amazingly, my make-up is done - which is rare. Too many morning commutes have been ruined by a sharp stab in the cornea from a liquid-eyeliner pen, as the train jolts into motion while I'm in the middle of making a hames of my 'cat's eye'.

It's then, just as I'm starting to feel on top of things, that disaster strikes. There are no keys hanging on the hook by the front door. There are no keys in my handbag. No keys on the kitchen table either, or on any of the easy-to-scan surfaces.

It's this sort of mundane, everyday pratfall that can bring me from zero to a full-scale tantrum in under 60 seconds. A vision of the morning's agenda, collapsing concertina-like in front of my eyes, starts to take shape; one of trains missed, meetings cancelled, furious recriminations, opportunities wasted and money lost.

For a second, the best response seems to be to give up on life completely and go back to bed. But, just as swiftly, I realise that, unfortunately, is not feasible. Catastrophe, I've learned, has a way of catching up with you, even if you try to ignore it. So I decide to channel my energies into finding someone else to blame instead.

Unfortunately for my boyfriend, he is usually the closest person to hand. From where I am standing, as I rapidly descend into a state of apoplexy by the front door, I can see him sitting in his office down the other end of the hall. Or at least, I can see the back of his infuriatingly impassive shoulders.

He must have heard me sigh and swear and thump up and down the corridor about three times now, but he hasn't blinked or flinched or moved his eyes from the screen. The crisis of the keys - to me, fast becoming a drama of life-and-death jeopardy and operatic emotional pitch, is, at this moment, nothing more to him than irritating background noise.

It's not rational, I know, but this enrages me. Suddenly, an ancient wellspring of fury, against myself, the missing keys, the unfairness of life, (but mostly myself) comes spilling out, and flows briskly in his direction. I am gripped by the conviction that somehow, this must be his fault.

But I don't have the proof yet. So I take a deep breath and manage to come out with an only slightly peeved-sounding: "Have you seen my keys?"

It takes a few, agonisingly slow seconds before he turns to face me, his expression maddeningly blank. He shakes his head. "Are you sure you didn't pick up mine last night when you went to the shop?" I say. "Can you just check your trouser pockets, please, because I'm about to miss my train?"

I had thought I was making an effort to sound reasonable, but something in my expression must penetrate through his morning confusion and trip some deep, evolutionary alarm switch in his brain. He gets up and I follow him to the bedroom where yesterday's jeans are draped across the chair.

They jingle as he lifts them, and I can feel the righteous indignation building. As he sticks his hand into the pocket, I'm getting ready to let rip. The swear words are almost out of my mouth when he pulls out a key ring which (dammit!) is his own. Then he thinks for a second, turns, heads into the living room, pulls the cushions off the couch and there, among dust and sweet-wrappers and a half-eaten biscuit, are the missing keys, which must have fallen out of my pocket when I was watching TV last night.

It's amazing how fast one man can be transformed from villain to hero. My maturity and composure have been tested and found wanting. At least I have the decency to look sheepish as I slip out the door with just 15 seconds to spare.

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