If You Need To Reach Me

Isn’t it funny when you find a business card laying on the ground in the middle of your bedroom floor and you wonder, where did I meet that person?

I often have a fear of throwing out business cards because I don’t want them to think I don’t care about them. Even the idea of tossing the paper makes me worry I’m somehow hurting their feelings by discarding them.  And by “them” I mean the actual business cards.   I have, in the byzantine sidewalks of my mind, decide to personify the flat piece of paper to possess human emotions and no amount of arguing will convince me that they don’t get slightly miffed when I toss them in the garbage.   That said, rarely do I use a business card for it’s intended purpose.  I have however, used it to get food remnants out of my teeth, as a straight edge, a coaster, a gum repository, a silverfish killer, and as the bottom layer to a stack of receipts I’m removing from my purse.

I’m sure a lot could be deduced from the fact that I give so much weight and power to inanimate objects.   But why start thinking critically now?  All my lipsticks have feelings and when I don’t use them for a time, I begin to worry if they think I don’t care about their needs.  I do, it’s just your mouth face can only be in one place at a time.  So coral pink, please cut me some slack.   My shoes know I love them because I have kept the same pairs around for years on end.  Shoe laces frayed, soles gummy and falling off in chunks, I want them to know, I’m here for them the same way they’ve been here for me through broken toes, knee surgeries and repossession from ex’s.    And don’t get me started on my underwear.   I’m not sure if it’s separation anxiety, or just my determination not to waste, but I’ve got underwear that are older than at least two presidential administrations.   I come from a family who believe in not wasting and using things to their fullest extent. The Storey’s didn’t raise no quitter.   Although, that strict ethic falls more squarely on my Dad’s shoulders.  In family circles, he’s known a McGyver OS X, or in even more elite circles, “El Capitan”.     At any given moment, you might hear my Mom say to me,  “Nina, please throw out that shirt, it’s got Crayola stains on it.”   Whereas, my father is more apt to suggest we hold the shirt over a Bunsen burner, increase the flame temperature at a slow but steady rate of 86.2 degrees per minute till we melt it off and recycle the wax for fuel.

This desire to never give up, never surrender, while not always the best advice in sticky legal situations, has helped both Buzz Lightyear and me to always keep my chin up and make the most of challenging situations, broken hangers, torn jean crotches, faulty watches, leftover pizza, mangled hopes, and absentee first dates.    Patch ‘em up with duct tape, mecuricome, daily affirmations, ranch dressing, whatever it takes to get me back on the path, and I’ll keep on keepin’ on.   But I do see how this philosophy could end up being a bit of a dead weight when applied to life choices that really do need to be seen as binary.   Toss the wilted lettuce? (yes) Toss the baby kitten? (no).   My conscious mind knows this, but sometimes I get stuck in the limbo of the discard.   And so herein lies my dilemma.

I was looking for a pair of jeans a few minutes ago and I came upon a business card on the floor of my closet.   Staring face up at me was the image of a happy 30-something man with a sensible haircut and a, nobody-can-tell-I’m-colorblind, taupe shirt .   His smile exuded realtor caliber confidence, with just the right balance of twinkle and ‘I can eliminate your closing costs’, savvy.  His ears suggested he was not always the first kid picked in dodgeball.   His font suggested he was no nonsense Helvetica.  That “get ‘er done” typeface boldly implied he was going to find you your dream house.  In that house you were going to make babies and quiche and learn to garden and toilet train a ferret (your daughter, Judy’s idea- but she’s now 12, and sometimes you gotta bend a little otherwise she might someday rebel and get a tattoo of a skull and crossbones and bring home a boyfriend who’s on the debate team of the young Republicans. So you agree to the ferret’s bathroom demands for Poo Pourri and a stack of “Better Homes And Gardens”.)   Yes, Mr. Ears is going to find you that home and you’re going to love him so much you’re going to suggest to your friends that moving to that industrial park was a visionary idea simply ahead of it’s time.     So shut the fuck up Jerry in HR, who said you’d never amount to anything other than a junior copywriter on fax machine repair manuals.    Yes indeed, the future through those taupe eyes, seemed promising.

So as I stood inside my dimly lit closet on a questionably stable wicker footstool (it was my grandmother’s, and what it lacks in 2017 furniture chic, it makes up for in 1990’s Costco kitsch) I stared at the business card for about twelve seconds trying to jog my memory of where I might have met this guy.   I thought to myself,  Mr. Ears, clearly has the potential to be a key figure in my life. Was he also an actor?  Perhaps I met him at a cattle call audition for, “Sleeping Subway Passengers.”   Perhaps he was a fan of my music and gave me the card at a show?  Did he leave it in my windshield when I was at a Dodger’s game?  Unlikely, as I the last time I went to a Dodger’s game I was 8 and didn’t own a windshield or any of the accompanying car parts.   Maybe he’s an accident attorney?   Or a parking meter defendant.   Maybe I flirted with him when I was picking up my extra large order of Moo Shoo Chicken,  joking about how much my ‘buddies’ liked to eat when watching reruns of Battlestar Galactica.  Yes, I have the appetite of a squadron’s worth of Viper pilots.  (Hear that? It’s the sound of nerds weeping.)   

By the thirteenth second I decided the importance of finding my pants outweighed the need for me to investigate my memory banks further, so I continued to rummage through my closet.  What I didn’t do however, was pick up the card and put it somewhere else.   Feeling too guilty to throw it away, but too distracted on more important matters, like finding a pair of pants that didn’t make my stomach bulge, my immediate attention was beckoned elsewhere.

On a recent Spring cleaning endeavor, when attempting to clean out my kitchen cupboards, I realized that the line between being resourceful and a hoarder is in fact, a gray one.   I found myself asking the age old question, “Do I need to keep this box of melted crayons?”  

To which my answer might have been, “Yes, because in the event an earthquake, when I can’t reach my candles they might help me escape from the wild dogs terrorizing the neighborhood at night. That globby mess might be mistaken for a raw steak and if I can distract the dogs briefly by tossing the hardened rainbow mound in their general direction, I’ll be able to make a run for it to the local marijuana dispensary where they’ve surely got enough water and snacks to weather the ensuing chaos.”

Or my answer might just as easily have been, “No. Don’t need ‘em.  Don’t own a coloring book and I’m still trying to get the candle wax off my favorite New Kids On The Block shirt.”    And as simple as that, tossed the hunk of indecision into the trash.

But because the idea of leaving anything or anyone behind is so deeply ingrained into my obviously damaged skull pocket, I find that letting go becomes an existential crisis.   I could be the person with the potential to save my entire apartment complex by fending off the Wildlings with a fake chunk of dog vomit, or instead be the greedy a-hole wanting more cabinet space and carelessly discard it with a pack of eraserless pencils.    Do I want to be that selfish guy?  Do I?  And live with that on my conscious for the rest of my days?  No I say.  No.

Really, how much harm could it be for me to keep the waxy obelisk a little longer?  Besides, if I keep it, I’ll have something to weigh down all those loose business cards.  And when I finally get around to it, I’ll give Mr. Ears a call.  Because with all that Helvetica he’s clearly worth keeping around.

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