The Southern sayin' backstory:
I know the overriding characteristic of my writing here is sophistication, so this may come as a surprise to friends of the blog, but I come from a rural background. I grew up living eight miles outside of a town of roughly 1700 people. We had one county school, and I graduated in a class of about fifty-two. Not only is my hometown as podunk as they come, I come from an ancestry that is a mixture of Kentucky hill people and Tennessee dirt farmers. Because education has been a fairly high priority in my family for two or three generations now, I can largely pass for a mostly normal, non-hick person. Much of the time I'm even allowed to forget about this ridiculously country accent I have. But every so often, I find myself in a situation that can only be summed up in the dialect of my youth; some quaint, down home saying comes out of my mouth, and I embrace my true self. Today is one of those days:
oh bless my heart
I know this should actually be "bless his/her heart" or "bless your heart," but what will follow is a story of how I am the sad and pathetic entity requiring all the heart-blessing. Perhaps, imaginary reader, you're unfamiliar with this expression, so you don't yet grasp just how deserving of your sympathy I should be. There are two common usages: Primarily bless (appropriate third-person possessive pronoun) heart is Southern-girl code for "that poor, unfortunate soul . . . let me use my seeming concern to gossip about problems faced and dramas encountered in the life of said individual." Southern girls could make an Olympic sport out of gossip, but their momas raised them better than to do it overtly--avoiding tackiness being a required course at SEC schools. So bless whomever's heart is the magic word, the get out of tacky-gossip-jail free card. For the record the malicious spirit is optional. Sometimes Southern girl gossip isn't as bad as I'm making it sound . . . I think. Bless your heart is a slightly different thing . . . when you're blessing someone's heart to his/her face, it's not gossip, but it's still a mild put-down in the vein of "oh you poor, dumb thing." It's that sort of condescending sympathy of which I am in need today.
I normally don't leave work at midday. Even if I don't bring my lunch, I eat at one of the many fine downtown dining establishments. Because I have to park in a parking deck more than half a block away, it's just sort of inconvenient (and for most of the year uncomfortably hot or cold), but sometimes I have to deal with the inconvenience. The problem with leaving at midday is that I typically don't pack up all my stuff if I'm not leaving for the day, so it's not altogether uncommon for me to arrive at my car and realize that I've left my keys in their designated pocket of my bag which is sitting under my desk. I always feel beyond stupid when this happens, and as luck would have it, I am almost always caught walking in circles to retrieve them by someone who's only too happy to give me crap about it. So when that happened to me this afternoon as I was trying to leave, it was scarcely noteworthy. Sure I wasted ten minutes round trip due to my own frustrating stupidity, but it certainly wasn't breaking news.
Lucky for you and blog fodder, my key drama continued. Tonight at closing, we had a couple of underagers who were waiting for a ride, so I ended up waiting with a couple of my security buddies for the parents to arrive, so it was already 8:15ish when we hiked over to the parking deck. Just as the elevator was nearing the third floor, I began to dig fruitlessly through the key pocket and the rest of my bag for my keys. Marquis, the best security guard in the history of security guards, walked me back over to the library to get the forgotten keys. I foraged through the upper strata of my desk with no luck. I retraced all the steps I made in our department after my return. By this point, I was not only moderately frantic but also painfully aware that I was keeping my pal Marquis from going home thanks to my ridiculous inability to keep track of my possessions. So I gave up. I called in the cavalry, and when allegedly helpful roommate Jess screened me in my hour of need, my superhero of a brother came to my rescue to pick me up. Lots of cuss words ensued (mine, not Shane's--he was nothing but pleasant and patient). I got home for the first time at nine, and rather than follow the original plan of getting copies made of Jess's house keys (which was likely impossible at that time of night), I finally confirmed that the extra key that's been hanging out at our house for the past fifteen months does indeed unlock the knob of the kitchen door, so I can enter and leave my house at will. My run of improved luck held when I realized that I hadn't yet lost the spare key (and extra clicker) to my car. So a penitent Jess took me to liberate my car from the parking deck, and after a quick stop back at the house to pick up my wallet (because of course, I'd left that at home), I tracked down some dinner and made it home before ten, but not by much.
So bless my heart . . .
It did sort of end up better than it began, and I've calmed down considerably about how my life will play out if I don't find them, but I was deserving of the most sincerely contemptuous bless your hearts ever just a few hours ago. Lucky for me, Jess isn't a real Southern girl, so I didn't actually have to endure any.