It's a funny story...
My cell phone buzzed in the pocket of my jacket.
"Hey," I said, knowing it was my husband even without looking at the caller ID. I knew, too, what the first words would be out of his mouth.
"What's taking so long?" he asked. A certifiable question, considering I had made a quick run to the store just to pick up two specific things. It was over an hour later.
"What?" I mumbled into the phone. I had heard him loud and clear. I was stalling, hoping that at that moment a divine light would open up from the heavens and send forth an illuminating ray of hope. I scanned the Wal-Mart parking lot. Nope. No illuminating ray of hope.
I had to tell him the truth.
I couldn't find my car.
"I'm a little worried," I said, my cell phone to my ear as I began my third trek through the packed parking lot in search of my silver suburban. "Maybe someone moved it," I told him as I rounded Aisle 7 and stopped for a mini van pulling out of a space. The sound of hip-hop music grew louder as I started walking again.
"What's that music?" he asked, and I told him it was someone sitting in a parked car on Aisle 9. I waved at the girl bouncing gently to the beat. By now I felt like we were old friends. I'd passed by her three times already. She grinned back, a grin that clearly said, "There goes that crazy old woman again."
"Are you sure you didn't park farther over?" he asked. Farther over. He was crazy. I wouldn't have parked way over there.
Four times I thought I had found it. No, five. Four times it turned out to be cars that looked just like mine. The fifth was when I saw a car like my husband's and thought for a split second that maybe I'd just forgotten that I'd driven his car, instead.
"You think maybe it was stolen?" I asked my husband, who was still on the line. I couldn't tell if he was amused, worried or on the landline calling someone to come pick me up for observation.
I pondered the possibility of my 5-year-old SUV with Kool Aid stains on the carpet and the little dent on the side that really wasn't my fault being stolen. Would that be so bad? Maybe I could get a cleaner car with a seat warmer that didn't only work in the summer.
"Ma'am? Ma'am?" a female voice across Aisle 10 suddenly yelled, pulling me out of my vision of a warm bum in winter. A nice young woman offered to help me, but I wasn't at the point yet of admitting defeat.
"Who's that?" my cell phone asked. He was distracting me with all his questions, so I told him I would call him back in a few minutes. I redistributed my purse from one shoulder to the other. Took a deep breath. And started back at the beginning. Aisle 1.
Fifteen minutes, a dozen crazy looks and one concerned elderly woman who must have thought I was a stalker later... and there it was. My car. Four aisles over from where I'd looked five times already. Farther over... near the Dollar Store.
Oh, yeah. Now I remember. I had to park over near the Dollar Store.
Safely in the driver's seat, doors locked, key in the ignition. Ahhh. I called home.
"Where was it?" he asked without even saying hello.
"It's a funny story...."
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.