Saturday, March 22, 2014

Playing Detective

Scott D. Parker

Okay, raise your hands if you’ve ever lost something? I’m seeing a lot of hands because, come on: everybody loses something sometime. The “fun” thing about losing something is playing detective. I put the word fun in quotes because sometimes, it ain’t really fun losing something you really want to find.

For me, this week, it was my Nook Simple Touch. This is my older Nook--I also have the color Nook HD that I got around Christmas time--that is only an ereader. It uses the e-ink technology which, they say, is easier on the eyes. I wanted to run a couple of reading experiments with it so I went to where I last saw it: in my front living room/library. Odd. It wasn’t there. But I could have sworn it was there next to my reading chair. Nope. Not there. My office can get cluttered so that’s the next logical place I go. I have a lot of horizontal space and I can, as the days go on--remember: I work from home four out of five days--said horizontal space can attract a lot of stuff. I look under the stacks of paper, around my bookcases, and under the table where I keep a couple of long boxes full of comics. My Nook was not there.

There’s that moment when you want to find something and you’ve started looking for it and you’ve looked in the most obvious places when you have a decision to make: do I expend the energy now and keep looking or move on to something else with the calm assurance that the thing will turn up eventually. You know the moment I’m talking about? Sure you do, because we’ve all done it. My decision was simple: find the Nook. It became my calling, my reason for being. No, not really, but I dang well wanted to find it.

Many of us have written about detectives and their methodologies. I became one this week. (I started looking for the Nook last weekend.) I started thinking through my days. Where do I keep my reading material? If you were to pose that question to my wife, she’d reply with “Everywhere.” Yeah, that’s kinda the truth. So I started scouring the house for the usual places: front room, game room, next-to-the-bed table, kitchen. No Nook. The wife did appreciate me picking up my various reading centers along the way, however. Chalk one in the win column.

But she’s also the clear-headed one of the family and she questioned why I wanted it. “You didn’t use it that often.” True, I said, but I’d like to use it again, more thoroughly, and for certain activities. More than that, however, around Monday evening, I just wanted to know where the darn thing was.

It was at this point that my mind’s eye began playing tricks on me. I kept ‘seeing’ the Nook in certain places and it kept not being there. Crap. I looked through various stacks of comics over and over again (remember that definition of insanity?) and no Nook. I started having weird thoughts: perhaps it was in the pocket of a jacket! Not bothering to realize that I rarely leave home with the device, I opened all my jackets. Not there (natch). The wife and boy started wondering why it was so important. “Because I want to find it,” I said.

My detective brain, such as it is, started concocting scenarios. My wife took it to teach me a lesson about having piles of stuff around the house. The arched eyebrow I got when I broached that theory was the only answer I needed. Another idea was the boy took it and hid it. Why? Who knows, but I asked. His reaction was wonderfully straightforward: “Dad, if I knew where it was, I’d go get it for you.” The heart swelled with pride while the non-Nook hole grew ever larger.

The middle of the week saw a revelation: I was missing some comics as well! They are probably with my Nook. I find the comics, I find the Nook. That was a great theory...until one evening when I was on the floor putting on my Crocs...and saw the ‘missing’ stack of comics. They weren’t lost. I had just forgotten where I put them.

Frankly, I tore the house apart looking for the thing. Me being the brilliant detective, I realized that the Nook most likely wasn’t in the house (or the saxophone case; or the boxes of Christmas stuff; or slide in among my books; or in my wife’s office; or in my son’s room). I started to wonder what I was doing the last time I saw it. No clue, but I know I needed to look outside, in the cars. With a cool CSI-type flashlight, I scanned the wife’s car. Nothing. Then I got to my car and looked in the obvious places: hatchback, the racks, the pockets and under the seat. Nothing. No, wait. Was that it?

Viola! It was under the driver’s seat, face down, so the black plastic back of the Nook blended with the black rug. Success! The investigation was over. I had located the mysteriously missing Nook. But why was it under the seat of my car? Oh yeah, now I remember. I had taken it with me on a church lock-in. But then there was a no-electronics rule and I had put it under the seat. The memory of that decision rushed back at me like a movie special effect.

But why had I wanted the Nook in the first place? It actually took me a moment to remember: Oh yeah: to read. I enjoyed the discovery, but also missed the search.

Hmmm, maybe I'll get the family to really hide something next time and then give me clues. Sounds like a fun long as they don't hide something really important. You know, like my Nook.

No comments: