Forgive me if I indulge in a bit of nostalgia, but for this essay it seems appropriate. I’m referring to an old radio program called “Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons.” If you admit your age is hovering somewhere near four score, perhaps you can remember listening to the broadcast with your parents as you gathered around the radio in your cozy living room. (Picture a Norman Rockwell painting.)
Typically, the program would begin with a rap on the door of the office of Mr. Keen, private detective. Responding to a gruff “Come in,” the distraught person would enter and tell Mr. Keen about so-and-so who had failed to show up for an important appointment day before yesterday, and hadn’t been seen or heard from since. Mr. Keen, who never did reveal his first name, would respond with the usual probing questions and of course, agree to take the case.
The show, which first aired in 1937, ran until 1955, and was one of radio’s longest running broadcasts, spanning 18 year.
Well, Mr. Keen, while I applaud your success, you ain’t got nothin’ on me! My run as tracer of the missing has lasted 42 years thus far, and I fear I am in it for life!
Why, on a bright September day, did I suddenly remember Mr. Keen? Because yesterday found me on my hands and knees, brandishing not a Glock 44, but a flashlight, and running my fingers under the dark and dusty space beneath our convertible sofa.
Why had I put myself in this dangerous situation where getting up off the floor could be hazardous to my health? Because my steady client, otherwise known as my husband, had presented me with my latest case. He had misplaced his keys somewhere within the confines of our home, and although he looked for them they were nowhere to be found.
After a thorough interview of his whereabouts since he let himself into the house – with said keys – it was obvious to me that the focus of the investigation had to be the couch. Removing the cushions revealed only crumbs from the sandwich he had eaten for lunch. So it was imperative that I take the next step. And, voila! I emerged with the keys. All that remained was that I successfully lift myself to a standing position!
Unlike Mr. Keen, my engagements do not begin with a rap on the door, but rather with a plaintiff cry: “Honey, can you help me find my………,” or, “Susan, have you seen my……..,” or, a more desperate “My credit card is missing!”
I cannot attribute this to dotage. It’s been going on forever. Besides keys, I’ve repeatedly been called upon to locate cell phones, eye glasses, wallets, umbrellas, as well as a shirt or a pair of shoes that he swears someone took from his closet. Although the reason why a burglar would nab a pair of old Skechers eludes me.
Over time, my role as “finder” has gradually been taken for granted. If I cannot find something, then it is truly lost. I’m reminded of the old “Domestic Goddess” comedy routine from Roseanne Barr when she was doing stand-up. “Husbands assume that wives know where everything is. They think the uterus is a tracking device!”
Perhaps Roseanne hit on something and there really are gender related differences when it comes to searching. Not wanting to extrapolate too much from such a small study, but I am definitely more thorough than my husband when it comes to locating lost objects. He might lift a cushion and give up, while I’m the one with the miner’s cap shining light on dark places.
In the spirit of “mansplaining,” perhaps we need a new verb to describe the male approach to finding things. For lack of something more creative at this time, I’m going to suggest “mearching” (man searching), and hope it captures the nature of man’s quest for the missing! If you come up with something better, Mrs. Keen would be happy to hear from you.
On a completely different note, I’m thrilled to report that my latest book of essays is scheduled for release on October 4. Entitled Laughing My Way Through the Third Stage, the Kindle version is now available for pre-order on Amazon . Please check it out! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BFBW89Y5 The soft-cover version will be available at the beginning of October.