The Things That They Took

The bookshelves in the pie shop are still looking a little sparse, so I’m adding a few volumes to them today, starting with anything written by Martin Cruz Smith. Everywhere in Cuba, especially when we were near the Malecon, I saw scenes out of Havana Bay with Russian Investigator Arkady Renko continuing his tortured comprehension of good and evil. Arkady would never be one to say, “It’s all good.” I always liked that about him.

I’m also going to donate my copy of Slim and None by Dan Jenkins, mostly for his character Grady Don whose flatstick had health problems, starting with diabetes-meningitis: “‘Flat stick.’ The putter. Putters can catch other things, as Grady Don saw it. Heart trouble, flu, ulcers, constipation. He claimed he once owned a mallet-head putter that actually spoke to him one day after it rimmed out a one-foot putt. I was aware that the putter is the most independent club in the bag. At times you can hardly talk to it in a civil tone. The best thing you can do with a putter that betrays you is kill the sumbitch. But you have to make sure it’s dead. Drowning may not do it. Grady Don insists that putters can swim, and some can grow into sharks and work their way into the oceans where they cruise close to beaches and wait to bite the leg off a vacationing golfer when he goes in for a dip.”

The description goes on from there, with Grady Don concluding that “nobody could manufacture a putter that wouldn’t catch syphilis eventually.”

I stand forewarned.

My golf instructor Sandy recently gave me a putter, and I bought another one at Goodwill. In either case, I need to have one or the other re-gripped, which is not a problem since my sister Melbie gave me a gift certificate at the “Putter Around” golf shop for just such a project. The question I have now is, “Why bother? It’s just going to betray me or die an untimely death anyway.”

Another book that I am adding to the Pie Shop shelves is The Things That They Carried by Tim O’Brien. What I’ve always loved about that book is the chapter listing quite precisely what they — a platoon of soldier in Vietnam — carried in their packs. O’Brien created a litany from what might have been a mundane list, and now college freshmen everywhere are challenged to figure out how he did it.

Having finally retrieved my errant luggage from BahamasAir, I find myself creating my own catalog of things, no where as poignant as O’Brien’s, but a tribute nonetheless as I mull over “the things that they took.” I can’t claim to know who “they” might be in this case, and I’ve already written about tossing my pink hat into the stream of commerce in Havana. That was choice. Inventorying the items missing from my luggage has been another exercise altogether, a last chance to remember some articles that I will never see again, and never replace.

So, what were the things that they took?

They took all the jewelry out of a ziplock bag, one I’d tossed into my so-called carry-on as an after thought. They left they bag but took the necklaces, four that I can recall: a hand carved dolphin that my former boss Chris gave me before I left Maine for my ill-fated move to Missouri, a silver square cross from Argentina, a blue glass pendant from last summer’s trip to Burano, and a bit of Roman glass that I bought on our cruise. They took my fake gold Chinese Rolex, one of three that I brought back from Zhuhai. Can you believe it still worked?

They took two sterling rings, each depicting a dragon of sorts, one Celtic, one more abstract. My dragon rings served to remind me of the protective dragons that had started to visit me in meditations during a bad time, years ago. I still have those dragons, I don’t really need the rings anymore.

I’ll miss the bracelets they took, one made of Venetian glass beads and one that was a cheap “wishing bracelet,” a twin of one I’d given Little Peach when taking a cruise in Europe was on our minds but not yet in our reality. Now it’s a memory.

They took a copy of World War Z, a birthday gift from a surprising colleague. A year ago, he gave me a gift for the the first time, a copy of William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition, saying “I hope you haven’t read this.” I had read it, in tandem with The Tipping Point, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it a second time, following up with two more Gibson books during the next few months. I didn’t even get to browse World War Z, but I’ll buy a new copy and read it soon. It won’t be the same.

They took the birthday card that was with the book. They left the envelope.

They took my new prescription sunglasses. I suspect they’ll have to knock out the lenses for them to be of any use, my eyesight is so peculiar. They also took a pair of red-framed computer glasses, the ones that I am wearing in my Beast Empress portrait by James Harvey as part of his “100 Pirates in 100 Days Project.” They left the oversized glasses case, and inside I found a fortune that I’d gotten from a cookie a few weeks ago: “A big fortune will descend upon you this year.” I just can’t remember where I got the cookie.

They took a black bra, the first one I bought after losing weight and discovering I’d been wearing the wrong size, too big in girth, too small in mass. They took my orange bra, an impulse buy at Victoria’s Secret, expensive and satisfying, one I’d worn on every trip, short or long, since May. And they took the straps to a beige convertible bra, but left the bra itself, which shall now be forever strapless.

They took a folder of papers, bills and other documents that I fully intended to address on vacation. At least, I think that’s what became of them.

They took my New Zealand hat, the one that inspired the gift of the pink hat.

And lastly, they took my little six-dollar alarm clock from Walgreen’s. I suspect that they were after the batteries. Now when I wake up in the night, I have to look at the phone to see what time it is. I can’t tell you how wrong that is. I liked that clock since it didn’t glow or warble or tick. It just was. And now it is. Somewhere else.

Perhaps, I shall have to call on the allegiance of the Beast Empress’s legions and go get it all back. Perhaps not.

The Beast Empress

The Beast Empress