Okay, I was tired after the drive down from Sedona to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Ninety miles an hour feels slow on Highway 17 when you realize that you are just barely keeping up with traffic. 60 mph is creeping along, or so it feels by comparison. After returning the overpriced rental car and shuttling through security, I pulled my last two twenty dollar bills out to pay for lunch at the Le Grande Orange in Gate D of Southwest’s hub. That’s the last time I recall being connected to my wallet, which included my VISA card, my driver’s license, my ATM card, my Mensa membership card, my brain donor card, my AARP card, and all the receipts for the last two weeks of my life. I had planned to put those receipts on my receipt pile at home with the vague intention of one day balancing my checkbooks. Shocker alert: I haven’t balanced my checkbooks in a long time, but please don’t rat me out to my wife. What she already knows about me is burden enough. It would be totally cruel if you added one more straw to her over-packed marital saddle bags. Like a swelling suitcase bulging at the zipper, she could just explode one day at BWI and all the jettisoned dirty laundry would shut down international air traffic for weeks. Think of others for a change, dear blog creeper.
So, it was not till we were home the next day when she asked me to pick up some groceries after church that I realized I had no wallet and no means of buying anything. No cash, and my unbalanced checkbook was at home, balancing on a can of Barbasol shaving cream. I lacked proof of identity, and technically I should not have been driving without a valid license. I shouldn’t have even been shaving without a license. I was in an identity pickle, so to speak.
“In a pickle” is an odd expression, don’t you think? I ponder things like this. After 11 minutes of ponderance plus the preceding 4 minutes of preponderance, I determined that the reference is to the old pickle jar that used to be part of every general store counter. Outside of such briny waters you can strut around as free as a fresh cucumber just slipped from the vine. However, once you are cooked, salted and vinegared, you are in a pickle (jar), floating helplessly, nakedly exposed to strangers with grimy quarters waiting to devour you. The only difference between you and a carnival goldfish in a glass bowl is the color.
Where was I? Lost, unidentifiable. If I had wrecked my car and died, I would have to be i.d.’d by my unsigned vehicle registration card, which is at the bottom of my receipt pile on the dresser where I empty my pockets religiously. My anonymous body could lie unclaimed in the morgue for days. (Then again, who would claim my identified body after my bodacious slanders and procrastinations?)
[Coroner, “Ma’am, we know it’s your husband. The dental records prove it.”
Mrs. B.S., “I’ve never seen this body before. My husband is dead to me. You should see the pile of receipts he left behind, his checkbook covered in shaving cream. And worstest of all: he lost his flippin’ wallet in Phoenix. I will not claim him, dead or alive!!”
Coroner, “C’mon, Lady, this is not like the pound. You have to take him.
Mrs. B.S., Don’t the unclaimed ones go to medical schools for study?
Coroner, “Yes, but… you wouldn’t… I’m aghast!!]
No, no. It’s too terrible to imagine. I will repent. No more puns or procrastination. I will help Tiny Tim walk. I will celebrate Christmas like none before me.
Somehow I felt I’d been sucked into an alternative universe, as if Tommy Chong had been sucking on his weed bong when suddenly reverse vapor lock sucked him into the funky bong water, trapping him in eternal impishness. What a scary place to be, unable to cross over or evaporate into the mystic. Entombed in a resin stained yellow submarine where only Pink Floyd tunes played, a fleshy filter between toxins and tripping out. This is how Joel must have felt on his pirated musical cruise. This is probably how Tommy Chong actually does feel these days. Anyone seen Tommy lately?
Focus, focus. The wallet. I’ve called both banks, VISA, Southwest, Sky Harbor security, the TSA, and the DMV in my journey out of the bong tank and back to functioning reality. I’m hoping to receive a package soon from a good citizen who took the cash left in my wallet for an envelope and postage to reunite me with my wallet. Do good citizens like that still exist? I have found wallets and cell phones in my wanderings and adventures and I’ve gone out of my way to return them to their ungrateful owners. Once, all I had to go on were recent baby pictures in a man’s wallet. I called the hospital and persuaded the record keeper to give me contact information that correlated with the baby info I had. I contacted the baby’s suspicious grandmother, who treated me like a cop from Law and Order, SVU. No good deed goes unpunished, my friends.
I want my readers in Phoenix to know that I will be very grateful if they have my wallet or any component of it. Cuz that’s who I am. Which means ironically that I still have my identity, doesn’t it? I still am connected to my who. My wallet has mosaic pieces of what I am, how much money is in my accounts, my credit limit, my eye color. As much as I’d like to have them back in my pocket, I’m glad to have my intrinsic who firing through my remaining neural pathways.
[As I was writing the above rambling bit of psychoprose, Southwest Airlines contacted my wife with news of my wallet being found. She arranged Fed Ex delivery. I am saved. I don’t have to be a medical cadaver after all. God bless the luck of the Irish!!]