VILLAGE IDIOT: Thief in the night

There was a famous book that said, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” It's wrong

Sue thinks I’ve been stealing her socks.

“What would I want with your socks? That makes no sense,” I said.

Sure, a lot of her socks are missing, but that doesn’t mean I took them, even though I am the likeliest suspect. After all, it’s just me and her in the house. She would hardly steal her own socks. There must be a reason her socks are disappearing. There have been some robberies in the neighborhood. But usually they steal jewelry or prescription drugs. I haven’t heard about any ring of sock thieves.

But it’s not just socks. Other things around the house have gone suddenly missing. Where is my tape measure? It’s not in the jumble drawer where it belongs. What happened to that fishing hat I bought in Aruba? What about that jar of mango chutney? What happened to that? What does that little key on my keychain open? That’s not really a theft, but it is a mystery.

Obviously, someone has a key to our house, sneaks in when we are away and takes random things because he or she has some kind of mental disorder. I’ve heard about things like this before, like people who steal things off clotheslines. Of course, now that I think about it, I think that turned out to be a squirrel or a cat, not a person. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there who would do that. What other possible explanation could there be?

Or maybe it’s some sophisticated scam, where people are trying to prove we’re crazy so they can have us declared incompetent and steal our money. Well, the joke’s on them. If we have any money, it must be in the same place where Sue’s socks are because we sure can’t find it. And where is the cat’s toy mouse and that book I bought on caning chairs?

I only read a few pages and realized that I wanted to cane chairs like I wanted to take a vacation in North Korea. Still, I would have liked to finish it. I’m a big admirer of hard work and dedication — in other people.

We searched and searched. I tried a trick my Dad used to ask us when we were little and couldn’t find things.

“Where was the last place you saw it?” he’d ask. And we’d think back and sure enough, the last place we saw the basketball was at Gregory Grime’s house down the street and when we went to look, it would be right where we left it.

“Where was the last place you saw your socks?” I asked Sue.

“On my feet,” she said, and not in a pleasant way. This line of questioning was going to go nowhere.

So where does this stuff disappear to? There used to be a show on television called “Unsolved Mysteries.” I told Sue that her missing socks must be one of them.

“What other kind of mysteries are there?” she asked. “Solved mysteries aren’t very mysterious. Idiot.”

“You’re right,” I said. “But try to remember I’m just human, not a god to be worshipped. You don’t have to kowtow to me all the time and throw rose petals in front of me as I walk. Ignore my glowing aura; try to pretend I’m a normal person, just like one of you.”

“Idiot,” she said.

“Your blind, awesome love for me won’t help us find your socks,” I replied.

And it didn’t. The painters found the socks months later. They moved one of the chests of drawers in our bedroom and found a neat stack of Sue’s folded socks that had fallen down behind it. At long last, I had been cleared of the hateful charge of sock thievery. Still, I think Sue suspects me of knocking the socks off her dresser in the first place and not owning up to it.

There was a famous book that said, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Wrong. It means saying, “I’m sorry,” every day, 10 times a day. And that still may not be enough.

Contact Jim Mullen at