On Perry Mason -- and countless police detective shows since -- the questioning begins with the cops frog-marching a suspect into bare room. Tilting a desk light into the perp's panicking eyes, one of the cops barks out: "Where were you on the night of June the 12th?"
Even when I had volumes of storage space in my brain (many quantum chunks of trivia ago), I wondered: what if someone didn't remember where s/he was that night?
It nagged at me, an inconsequential, paranoid worry about not being able to give the fuzz a sharp-edged answer. I didn't plan to need an alibi, of course, but still, I worried. It's just one result of having television provide a person's wider socialization...
Later, pondering the flight of days through my memory, I put myself into the dark blue uniforms behind the harsh light and wondered, "Where was I on the night of -- oh, any date?" And also, "Am I supposed to be someplace tomorrow?"
Hence the shelf of appointment books. The year I left high school, I started keeping a datebook. I jotted down all kinds of things: tests, assignments, lunches, dates, musical happenings, friends' birthdays. Later, it was deadlines and events and meetings, confirmation and flight numbers, video conference passwords, dinner reservations, and so on.
Like my antiquated Rolodex, a datebook leaves room for me NOT to think. When is the flight? I don't know, it's in the datebook. When is the dentist appointment? I don't know, it's in the datebook. Are you free tomorrow? Honest to pete, I don't know. It's in the datebook.
Which is splendid until the 2014 datebook fell out of my bag when I was crossing Philadelphia International with my elderly dog...and nobody turned it into the Lost and Found bin. Or if someone did, the Lost and Found people couldn't <irony alert> find it.
Since the end of September, I have been hoping for the return of my 2014. I've missed a handful of appointments. I've scattered mass confusion about upcoming events and missed birthdays. I've spoken the words, "I don't know, it was in the datebook," about four hundred times.
It's a first-world problem, but I feel it like the loss of a tooth.
I have 2015 in hand and am looking forward to knowing again where I was. And where I'm supposed to be.
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