Stupid Tuesday questions, Brigadoon edition

I know they are there.  I am sure of it.

But they elude me.  Like a traveler stumbling after a dancing will-o’-the wisp, I seek them.  Like a parched sojourner spying water between shifting dunes only to find sand and sand and more sand, I reach out grasping hands but find nothing but air to fill them.

I know they are there.  But they elude me.

I refer, of course, to the replacement filters for our Brita pitcher.

I know that I buy them.  I know that I put them in that little cabinet over the fridge.  I know it, I know it, I know it.

They are never there.  Or anywhere else.  And I always end up buying more, only to have the next batch disappear again when the one in the pitcher is worn out.

I know they are there.  But they elude me.

So that’s this week’s Question — what do you chronically misplace?  Which items evanesce upon entering your home?  What objects are stolen by pucks and leprechauns, no matter where you stash and hide them?

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. Nail clippers and files. I dursn’t handle too many objects of small compass anyway but these! O how they vanish into the aether!

    • Dammit, Burt, I clicked through from Google Reader because I read this post and shouted “Nail clippers!” at my desk.

      • Gentlemen, I don’t want to unjustly accuse the fairer sex; but I believe you are both married.

        I found this problem in my household to be mostly resolved when I told my wife that I was buying a new pair, and they would stay in, and be returned to, a particular spot when not in use; or I would know the reason why.

        They are STILL sometimes gone when I go to get them; but when asked, she at least always knows where they are now.

        • I’m just as likely, if not more likely, to lose them than she is.

          That sentence would read very differently if we swapped out “lose” for “use”, mind you.

  2. The attachments for our vacuum. The clips that are supposed to hold them on the vacuum cleaner don’t work well so they end up floating around the house loose. My wife likes to store them in a different place every time she puts them away.

    My shoe horn also disappears frequently.

  3. I’m scared that, when I die, all the pens and single socks I’ve misplaced will suddenly come raining down upon me in the afterlife.

    I can put a pen on my desk – and have it be the only thing on the desk – and it still ‘mysteriously’ vanishes within an hour.

    • There is an alternate universe where they go through a series of mini wormholes that only last long enough for them to fall through. There, also, you’ll find amazing quantities of mis-matched socks that, despite the billions and billions of socks there, do not have a potential matching mate. And those small, spring-loaded tape measures used by crafters.

      Diaper pins used to collect there, but I hear that’s on the decline.

      • “The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a very unevenly edited book and contains many passages that simply seemed to its editors like a good idea at the time.
        One of these (the one Arthur now came across) supposedly relates the experiences of one Veet Voojagig, a quiet young student at the University of Maximegalon, who pursued a brilliant academic career studying ancient philology, transformational ethics and the wave harmonic theory of historical perception, and then, after a night of drinking Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters with Zaphod Beeblebrox, became increasingly obsessed with the problem of what had happened to all the biros he’d bought over the past few years.
        There followed a long period of painstaking research during which he visited all the major centres of biro loss throughout the galaxy and eventually came up with a quaint little theory which quite caught the public imagination at the time. Somewhere in the cosmos, he said, along with all the planets inhabited by humanoids, reptiloids, fishoids, walking treeoids and superintelligent shades of the colour blue, there was also a planet entirely given over to biro life forms. And it was to this planet that unattended biros would make their way, slipping away quietly through wormholes in space to a world where they knew they could enjoy a uniquely biroid lifestyle, responding to highly biro-oriented stimuli, and generally leading the biro equivalent of the good life.
        And as theories go this was all very fine and pleasant until Veet Voojagig suddenly claimed to have found this planet, and to have worked there for a while driving a limousine for a family of cheap green retractables, whereupon he was taken away, locked up, wrote a book, and was finally sent into tax exile, which is the usual fate reserved for those who are determined to make a fool of themselves in public.
        When one day an expedition was sent to the spatial coordinates that Voojagig had claimed for this planet they discovered only a small asteroid inhabited by a solitary old man who claimed repeatedly that nothing was true, though he was later discovered to be lying.
        There did, however, remain the question of both the mysterious 60,000 Altairan dollars paid yearly into his Brantisvogan bank account, and of course Zaphod Beeblebrox’s highly profitable second-hand biro business. “

        • Sorry, that was more text than I realized and it didn’t format well — I shoulda just popped in the hyperlink.

  4. At the risk of getting trouble for not playing the game right, I have the exact opposite situation with Brita filters. I don’t know when it is that we actually buy them , we never seem to, yet I’m always finding them in some random drawer in the kitchen.

    Is it possible that you accedentally mailed all of yours to me?

  5. Umbrellas! Not around the house but I always leave umbrellas somewhere.

  6. I often find my particular foibles do not quite match up to your Tuesday questions. Today, however, I’ve hit the jackpot.

    In order of evanescence:
    1. Hair control devices for little girls.
    2. The last G*$D@^# crayon or number or block or f*ing doll in a set of toys so arrayed as to elicit a “this one’s missing” from my daughter every time she plays with them.
    3. ChapSticks.
    4. Pens, but I know that’s because Jason takes mine to work with him, so that doesn’t quite count.
    5. The tool that I need at any given moment, even though I ostensibly keep them all in a confined space.
    6. Most recently, Christmas tree ornaments, but again, I have likely suspects of the feline persuasion.

  7. Pens. We go to Costco and buy the 40-pack. I think it’s something like 16 Red, 17 Blue, 17 Black.

    We dump them out into the top drawer of the credenza by the front door.

    Now, I don’t expect to find 40 in them, say, a month later.

    I do expect to find, oh, *ONE*.

    Instead of an unsharpened pencil. How in the hell did that even get there?

    • My pen problem is entirely limited to my office. I can find them in ample supply at home.

      But in my exam rooms, where I need to write things people are saying down?!? Never one there. I often end up filling out forms using the Sharpies we use to label blood tubes.

        • We’ve actually talked about using iPads, but in my case all I need is a frigging pen to scribble a few notes to remind me of what I said and did when I type up the formal note later.

    • When I’m in the lab, I tend to stick my pens in my hair (which is responsibly in a braid or a pony tail), and then I forget they’re there.

      Sometimes I feel like the secretary in Ferris Bueller’s Day off – I’ll be coming home and lean back against the headrest and then, “OW! WTF”

      …it’s one of 5 pens sticking out like chopsticks from my head.

  8. Any kind of writing instrument; envelopes.

    “Extra” toner cartridges for the printer so we “don’t have to go all the way back to Office Depot next time.”

    Mayo, on the very rare occasion we need some.

    My keys.

    • I find it works well to find where a cat has knocked the clippers onto the carpet and under the couch, and leave them there. Then, when the cat’s in my lap and it’s time to clip claws, I nonchalantly reach under the couch; just like a squirrel, the cat doesn’t know where he buried the clippers this time, so he doesn’t know to run until it’s too late.

      • I love the visual of lifting up the couch, or similarly situated furniture, and finding a perfect rectangle of items with the border of said rectangle lying exactly one cat paw’s length in from the edge of the furniture piece.

  9. In addition to the usual suspects – I mentioned nail clippers above, but also pens and chapsticks – I used to have this problem with gloves. I have lost like 25 pairs of gloves in my lifetime. Eventually I decided to buy really expensive ones, which has refocused my attention on not losing them, and that seems to be working so far (fingers crossed).

    • I have a similar problem with scarves, and a somewhat similar (and hopeful) solution — one of my colleagues has just given me a very nice one, which has made me particularly vigilant.

    • Ryan –

      Do you really lose pairs of gloves? I tend to lose one of each pair of gloves and socks that I own…

      • Both. By which I mean, sometimes I will lose one and sometimes I will lose both of a pair. I’m horrible. I never leave the house without an extended game of where-are-my-keys-phone-purse. It drives my husband completely insane. I do not blame him one tiny bit.

        • Put a box by the door. They go in the box. Then they are always there.
          Sure it looks unsightly, but it gets the job done.

          hard learned lessons, can you tell?

  10. I’ve never successfully owned a pair of sunglasses longer than 4 months. Before this past October, I believe the record was one month. I blame the most recent disappearance on Hurricane Sandy.

  11. I don’t have this problem too much any more.

    When I do, it’s pretty obvious that either I’ve misplaced something that Kitty’s looking for (and really, I ought not to have moved it from its Rightful Spot) or vice-versa. It’s no longer the case that I lose the same thing, over and over.

    It killed part of me to do it, but it was justifiable homicide.

  12. Hairbrushes. We have probably a good half-dozen, yet on any given day NONE will be in the bathroom and will be located throughout the house wherever one daughter or another decided to drop one. This morning it happens 3 were in the bathroom and I was actually stunned.

  13. Chapsticks, winter accessories, adult hair control devices (wait, that sounds horrifying….), sunglasses, watches, umbrellas, pens.

    And children’s socks.

  14. Don’t get me started on the things I misplace because there are a lot. I believe that my home is a black hole moonlighting as a house.

Comments are closed.