It never fails. Fall is the time of year when people stop
whatever it is they’re doing and take stock of their surroundings.
Oh, not because they’re a particularly neat or organized sort of
person, mind you, but because that’s when they suddenly realize
that most of things in their house don’t belong to them.
It never fails. Fall is the time of year when people stop whatever it is they’re doing and take stock of their surroundings. Oh, not because they’re a particularly neat or organized sort of person, mind you, but because that’s when they suddenly realize that most of things in their house don’t belong to them.
Let me explain. At my house, summer passes in a flurry of barbecues, pool parties and other back yard events. And, naturally, people leave things behind: a beach towel here, a pair of sunglasses there. But then one day, usually in the fall, I suddenly take a good long look around and realize that my house is filled with all sorts of things I don’t remember owning.
It’s filled with mystery snorkel gear and swim fins and sandals and faded T-shirts and all that. In other words: lost summer stuff. And it’s not like you can just give these things back, mind you. Everyone knows that the major rule about lost summer stuff is that nobody, NOBODY ever claims it. And, really, that wouldn’t be so bad except, no one ever loses anything really useful. I’ve yet to search my house after a party and come across, say, a Prada handbag floating in the pool. Usually the stuff I find is of the plastic inflatable toy variety.
Oh, all right, once, during a potluck barbecue, my friend Shirley left a pair of high-end sterling salad tongs sitting on the chaise lounge. But that doesn’t really count because eventually she remembered where she had left them and insisted on taking them back.
But I digress.
Naturally, the major problem with harboring lost summer stuff is figuring out what to do with it all. Sure, you could try calling every person who’s been to your house in the last five months or so and ask them if they’re missing a bikini, polka dots with pink ruffled panties, size 3.
Go ahead. Try it.
Or you could be like my friend Monica, a slightly superstitious sort of person with lots of extra storage space, who has four boxes filled with unclaimed snorkels, broken sandals, and swim goggles. She refuses to throw anything away because she’s convinced the very second the garbage truck rounds the corner, the owner will suddenly remember leaving it at her house and ask for it. And how would she explain that?
Then again you could listen to my friend Sue, whose solution for lost summer stuff is to use it.
“It never fails,” she told me. “As soon as you use something that’s not yours, the rightful owner will magically appear and exclaim to everyone around you, ‘Oh there’s my favorite plastic Hawaiian punch bowl! I’ve been looking for that for ages.”
Then they gloat in the same “I caught you” sort of way that FBI agents do when questioning members of organized crime.
If you ask me, the best way to get rid of lost summer stuff is to discreetly bring it to other friends and neighbor’s houses and leave it there. Chances are, it’ll eventually work its way back at the right place.
In fact, just the other day I managed to conveniently leave a pair of mismatched plastic tumblers at my neighbor’s house warming party. And a pair of tennis shoes at my friend Carol’s potluck dinner.
But that doesn’t mean that I’m completely off the hook. For instance, this morning I found a familiar looking slightly-faded Budweiser towel peeking out from underneath the potted geraniums, that I swear I had inconspicuously left in someone else’s backyard last summer.
But I’m not too worried. Until I can pawn it off on some unsuspecting neighbor, I’ll just put it in the car trunk along with the inflatable water wings and the Scooby Doo socks.
Thank goodness the holiday party season is coming up.
Debbie Farmer’s column appears every Monday.