As I walked into the kitchen on a dark and dreary Tuesday evening, I was greeted by the sounds of mysterious creaking and moaning.
“Is that the floorboard or my knees?” I asked myself in my best tough guy detective voice. “We don’t have time for that right now, we’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
I don’t actually know how to fry fish or understand why you would want to fry the bigger fish before the smaller fish, so I forged on with my noble quest.
I was there to make my lunch for work the next day. It was a task that I had accomplished several times before, and I was confident that I could fulfill the demands of this challenge once again.
I don’t want to brag (but I feel I must), but I consider myself one of the best lunch-makers in the tri-state region. I have packed countless lunches for children over the years, throwing in different snacks and other items in order to make the mid-day meal fun.
On this bleak Tuesday evening, though, I just wanted to make my usual lunch quickly so that I could go to sleep before heading back to work the next day.
“I hate Wednesdays,” I said in my best Eeyore voice, and then forged ahead with my lunch preparations.
I grabbed my lunch bag from on top of the refrigerator, retrieved an apple from inside of the refrigerator and then set them both on the counter to the right of the refrigerator.
“Refrigerator, refrigerator, refrigerator,” I said to myself trying to sound smart. “It’s fun to say, but it’s really kind of an odd word. Refrigerator. What if something hadn’t ever been cooled before you put it inside? Then shouldn’t it be referred to as just a frigerator?”
Undaunted by these important questions, I continued my undertaking by getting out the bread, my strawberry jam (yum!), a knife and some lunch baggies.
“What else do I need? Ah yes, the peanut butter,” I said to myself in my best fancy chef voice. “Just the right dab of peanut butter here and here will make an exquisite sandwich.”
But when I looked in the cupboard, I couldn’t find the peanut butter.
“Maybe I already got it out and have just forgotten,” I said to myself in my best old person voice. This happens more times than I care to admit, but on this night it was not on the counter already.
“I must not have seen it in the cupboard,” I said to myself in a hopeful voice, but the cupboard was bare of peanut butter. I then looked a third time, but it still wasn’t there.
“Maybe I dropped it on the floor and it rolled under the counter,” I said in a French accent for no particular reason. The floorboard and my knees creaked once more as I lowered myself onto the floor, but no peanut butter was to be found. On a positive note, this did help me solve the Case of the Disappearing Cup.
“Am I sure it’s not on the counter already? Maybe I can’t see the peanut butter fore the bread, or something like that,” I said in my best Sigmund Freud voice.
I scoured the counter with my eyes once again, but the peanut butter still wasn’t there. I looked back in the cupboard another time, and then looked in the refrigerator in case someone had put it in there accidentally. I should note that this has happened a few times previously, and then I had to unfrigerate the peanut butter before I could eat it.
Alas, it wasn’t there and it also wasn’t in the living room, dining room or even the bathroom (thankfully).
I didn’t think we had eaten all of the peanut butter yet, so the only logical thing for me to do was to look back in the cupboard again, under the counter again, in the refrigerator once more and then back in the cupboard one more time just to be sure. It was nowhere to be found.
By now, I had spent at least 30 minutes making my lunch, and all I had accomplished was to get an apple out of the refrigerator and place some bread on the counter. What would I do without peanut butter?
I could make another type of sandwich, but what would be the point? I only wanted peanut butter and strawberry jelly. So, I put the bread back, put the jelly away and packed a bagel that I could toast at work the next day for part of my lunch.
And the next day, I enjoyed my lunch of a bagel, apple and chips, but I missed by usual sandwich and was bothered by this mystery.
“Where had the peanut butter gone? “ I said to myself in a whisper so that the other people in my office wouldn’t hear me talking to myself. “Did someone steal it? If so, that person would be a ‘smooth’ criminal.”
The peanut butter was constantly on my mind at work that day. Whenever someone asked me about computer images, all I could think of was my missing Jif. And whenever I couldn’t remember someone’s name, I referred to him or her as Skippy.
And at the end of a long Wednesday (yuck, Wednesdays), as I made my way home through the crunchy leaves on my sidewalk, all I could think of was that peanut butter. Would I ever see it again? Had it gone to Neverland?
But when I went inside and put my lunch bag back on top of the refrigerator, I noticed that the peanut butter was front and center in the kitchen cupboard!
My heart leapt with joy (as much joy as peanut butter can bring that is), but I was also quite perplexed.
As luck would have it, all of the family members were in the kitchen so I said in my best police officer voice, “Does anyone know where the peanut butter was last night?”
My wife was quite confused by my peanut butter question, but one of the children quickly spoke up.
“Oh yeah, it was in my room,” was the response. “I was snacking on peanut butter last night. Sorry if you were looking for it.”
“No problem, I didn’t think anything about it,” I said in a total lie. “I was just wondering.”
Of course one of the kids had it! Why hadn’t I thought of that? And why do they just snack on peanut butter?
With the peanut butter once again safe, I made my usual lunch later that evening and prepared for Thursday (a much better day of the week).
And when my meal was carefully placed into my lunch bag, I snuggled it safely in the refrigerator, turned off the lights and then headed up the stairs, enjoying the creaks and moans of the boards and my knees, before I got into bed and said good night to my wife in my happy but sleepy voice.