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Suburban Island

My Kingdom for a Key
Friday, Dec. 05, 2003, 11:44 a.m.

QUESTION: Do you know where your keys are?

WHAT I LEARNED: Tardy notes should be short and to the point.

Consider the little key. There are all kinds of keys – the key to the front door, the key to the safety deposit box, the key to your office files, the key to your heart, and they are all important. However, the key that figured most prominently in my life yesterday was the key to the car. I am a little careless with my car keys because I seem to have such an abundance of them. My husband has one on his key chain. I have 2 hanging on the end of lanyards. And I firmly believe there may be one or two other copies loitering in purses and briefcases just crying out to be re-discovered so that they may be reunited with the vehicle for which they were made.

In our house, the order in which your car sits on the driveway in the evening has everything to do with the character of your morning during the gotta-get-to-school-and-work frenzy that is the lot of so many households on weekday mornings. As the mad rush for school and work ensued yesterday, I grabbed my coat and car keys and went out to move my car so that my daughter could head out to school on time. Pulling back up into the driveway after she departed, I decided to keep the car running so it could warm up.

A few minutes later, my son and I were ready to go. We were even early for a change. Ah, a warm defrosted car in the driveway and getting out the door ahead of schedule for once. This was going to be a good morning. Or was it?

a favorite lanyard

My son quickly pointed out an unforeseen problem. Mom, the car is locked.

Locked? Locked? Impossible. But it was true. The car was locked, the keys were in the ignition, and my stalwart warhorse of a car was happily warming up in the driveway - but we were not in it. Now, that is a problem indeed.

Never fear – I told my son. I wasn't worried - because I have all those other keys. Like the one on my husband’s key chain – which was with him on the way to a doctor’s office at that very moment. Like the other keys that were on key chains scattered about the house – which were still lost for all intents and purposes. Like that second key on a lanyard – which had suddenly gone missing. We tried every key on every key chain that we could find but with no luck. Why was my house so dark? Why was my coat so hot? Why were there so many damn key chains in my house and what were all these keys for anyway?

I was starting to sweat, my kid was now officially late for school. I stopped my key quest and wrote a note to the school. I said – Please excuse my son for arriving late to school today. I – his mother – locked my keys in the car. Thanks.

What can you do? During my third search of the living room area, I again noticed a tangle of lanyards hanging off a hook on the back of the front door. I had looked through them already but something told me to do so again. There in that jungle of key-less lanyards was THE lanyard with that innocuous key to my day. It had been quietly hanging there all the time.

We ran out the door and headed out into the December morning – a little late - but in a warm and toasty car. Sometimes we need to be satisfied with a note from mom and a well-defrosted windshield.

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