Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Key Signs of Disease: One Sufferer's Story

For years, I blamed my symptoms on my children. Or my housecleaning service (that long-lost luxury--sigh). I even went so far as faulting some malicious demon that apparently lurked in small places such as pockets and purses.

But now, I realize what's truly responsible is a progressive and debilitating disease.

I have, what's known in layman's terms, as "Chronic Lost Keys Syndrome."

The diagnosis comes as a relief, really. At least I know my own actions, in no way, can be blamed.

My mother--bless her heart--has been plagued by the condition for years. Not comprehending that what we were witnessing signaled a serious hereditary disorder, my sisters and I offered her little compassion. We rolled our eyes, exchanging knowing glances behind her back.

Until we started suffering the same symptoms.

After I began losing my keys two or three times a week, I knew it was more than simple carelessness. I am the Queen of Organization. I make beaucoup lists. I know what's buried in every pile of papers on my desk. And I carry a purse in which each important item has its own special compartment.

Alas, there are no preventive measures one can take, nor any available cure, for sufferers of Chronic Lost Keys Syndrome. The most we can hope is to manage our disease, through wall-mounted key hooks and extra sets of keys hidden in safe places--locations we can only pray to recall in times of key emergencies.

And now this horrific disease has struck our own young adult children. My sisters and I have begun preparing them for what lies ahead. We try to help them cope. We attempt to show compassion.

"Have you seen my keys? I've looked everywhere!" The 22-year-old appears frantic as he searches the house. "I left them right here, I'm sure of it, but now they're gone!"

I pat his hand while fighting back a tear.

"I know, honey," I whisper. "I know."

Oh, the long and frightening road he faces.

I'm already dreading the day I have to explain he's inherited the awful "Chronic Lost Credit Card Syndrome" as well.

Are you or any of your loved ones afflicted with "Chronic Lost Keys Syndrome"? Are you famous for making beaucoup lists, or do you wing it? Are you turning into your mother, too?


  1. I wish I had Chronic Lost Credit Card syndrome . . . Instead, I've developed Chronic Credit Card Swiping Disorder.

    And yes, often when I'm walking down the street, I'll glance into a window, see a reflection, and turn around, thinking that my mother, for reasons of her own, has driven 8 hours just to follow me around on my lunch break. But she hasn't. It's me.

  2. "I know, honey. I know"

    We have a screen saver where all of the stored photos pop up as if you are laying them out on a desk. It's addictive.
    One day I sat mesmerized when a photo of my mother popped up. I wondered when that was as she was wearing my bathing suit...and had longer hair...yes you know where this is going.
    I wept. My husband came in and all I could get out was, That's me? He left and returned with a beer.

    As for keys, always check the freezer and the pantry. That's where I keep mine.

  3. yes
    beaucoup lists
    and, no matter how hard i fight it, yes

    yesterday, i was trying to get my daughter out the door in time to get the bus and I said to her, "Harley, where is your backpack?! You can't go to school without all your stuff!"

    her answer: "You're holding it mom."


  4. Oh Sherry, I am not alone! Thank you!

    Funny story, when we lived in IN, I lost my keys a year into our stay, and we were sure when we finally moved (2 years later) they would surely appear. After all, we had a toddler who was fond of putting things into my husband's sub-woofer (I think that was the term, a speaker with a hole in the front?)so surely my keys went in there. Nope. When we moved, no keys appeared.
    That was my one free-pass.

    Now I "lose" them daily. Ask my husband how many times he's had to pull over because he hears a strange clicking against the driver's door while he's driving. "Honey, did you take your keys out after you unlocked the car?" he asks.

  5. A pharmaceutical marketing firm is ready to create the cure. I suggest you get a patten (shoot, suddenly I don't know how to spell patten). Anyway, get one and make your fortune in the cure so you can stay home and write books and hire someone to hold your keys.

    I have Chronic Leave My Purse syndrome. I've never felt such panic as when I get home from the Safeway only to realize my purse is still in the cart. In the parking lot! Jay-sus Mother of Mary. It's a disease....

    Funny how my mother's face has started showing up as my drivers license photo. And lately I refuse to cook by following a recipe, so I'm official my mama.

  6. I can't help but wonder what Dr. Phil would say about this.

    And, just so you know, if any of my kids get this disease, I'm the one leaving. It's bad enough I get sucked into my husband's inability to locate keys, wallet, receipts, shoes. The minute my kids show the signs, I'm gone.

  7. Sarah: I'm currently recovering from Chronic Credit Card Swiping Disorder. Not a minute too soon; I can no longer afford the treatment.

    Lyra: My mom looks pretty young for her age, so I'm counting on that. (Hi, Mom!) And, the freezer or pantry? Are you sure we weren't separated at birth?

    Amy: HA! I can't tell you how many times I've started looking for my keys, only to discover I was holding them. I think when you're juggling so much, you're allowed an occasional flake-out. At least that's how I choose to explain the times I paid for my order in the drive-through and then sped away, forgetting my food.

  8. Erika: THANK YOU. I feel infinitely better after hearing your own saga. And I'd ask why you don't have one of those remote door openers attached to your keys, but I'm assuming if you once did, it's long gone...

    Teri: Oh my Lord, misplacing the purse would be most frightening of all! But at least then you'd have a good guess where your keys and credit card are, too.

    MSB: Now you have me curious: What do YOU think Dr. Phil would say? And does my little disorder explain why everyone in my house has moved out?

  9. My purse totally turns into the Mary Poppins bag and I can never find my keys. Remember the infomercials for the Organizer Bag? It came in bone, tan and black? You snapped your keys on the side of the bag. My sister and I made so much fun of that ad but I could sure use one of those purses now!

  10. LM: Seriously, me too. Next thing you know, we'll be coveting The Clapper.

  11. Yes, my malady screams: Come rob me. Here's my address and a spare house key.

    On your way over, do some big money shopping with my credit cards and deposit my cash under your mattress. Also, stop by the post office to see if they'll order you a new passport. You never know when that travel bug's gonna take hold.

    While you're at it, if you wouldn't mind, run all the errands on that long list I just made.

  12. Teri: Laughing so hard here I'm practically crying. And just so you know I'm laughing WITH you, not at you. OK, I'm laughing at you, too.

  13. Once I called off work because I couldn't find my keys. I actually owned up to the honest reason, never mind what a bonehead/flake/moron it made me sound like. (I still remember my supervisor saying, "Okaaaaaay....") Then I found the keys 10 minutes later -- tucked into a pair of pants I'd stashed in a dresser drawer the night before -- but I didn't even consider going into work. I had already offered to take a personal day and Christmas was only like two weeks away. I spent the day shopping and baking cookies. Best lost-key experience ever.

  14. Sara W, your comment about seeing yourself reminds me of the time I accidentally called an out-of-town friend (I thought I was dialing my husband) and when she picked up, her voice sounded exactly, EXACTLY like mine, except I could tell it wasn't an echo, and I was so confused that for about three whole seconds I thought I had somehow dialed an alternate universe and was calling myself. Talk about a freaky way to start your day.

  15. Laura: I've never called off the whole day, but I've been late to work many a time because I couldn't find my keys. Next time, maybe I'll pull a Laura instead. I'm thinking Christmas cookies may be the best cure for Lost Keys Syndrome.

  16. Taking my cue off of his reaction when it comes to incessantly tardy people, I would say Dr. Phil would most likely say the tendency to constantly lose one's keys is selfishness. Unless, of course, you never ask for help in locating them. Then I have no idea what he would say. Probably something wacky like cutting out sugar from your diet. Or maybe even adding more in.

  17. MSB: Yes, I'm fairly certain he'd tell me to increase my sugar intake. Thank you for the excellent advice.

  18. Oh, Sherry...I love that I know you in real life. You are so freaking hilarious. I do not suffer from this particular disease but I am very up do date on the where the fuck is my cell phone ailment.

  19. Last week I lost my glasses. I was wearing them.

    You're our generation's Erma Bombeck, Sherry. I can't tell you how many times you've made me laugh out loud.

  20. Mine are usually in the pocket of whatever I was last wearing - drives my husband crazy. Or they are still in the ignition - often over night - or, you know, fallen into a random bag, accidentally throw out, on the window sill in the bathroom . .

    Don't get me started on glasses.

    And I refuse to answer the question of turning into my mother on the grounds that it might incriminate me

  21. I've experienced something like this, but in my case it was lost-key by whis-key---and I wasn't sober enough to drive anyway . . . ;)

  22. Let's start a charity to raise money to help find a cure! We can do 5Ks and bake sales! I'll get right on it ... as soon as I find my keys.

  23. Amanda: And the phone's inevitably on silent mode when you lose it, yes?

    Averil: Will you blurb my book? (Thank you.)

    Downith: On the rare occasion I misplace my glasses, I am totally S.O.L.! I'm so nearsighted I don't have a chance of locating them.

  24. Lisa: Damn, where were you when I was looking (and failing) to come up with a great title for this post? Thanks for stopping by!

    Alone: I figured you for the benevolent type for sure. Love your blog--glad you made your way over here.