Dog Eared, Part IV, Chapter 3

Body to Body… i finally found it. I finally found the key to my bank safety deposit box—and, this, after only twelve years of looking for it.

“It’s in my office, honey.”

Yeah and we know what that means—you lost it!

Okay, I did. But I found it, like I find other things. Years ago I wrote a text for a children’s picture book called Setting the Turkeys Free. I like to call it my anti-Thanksgiving book. In every other Thanksgiving book for young readers the turkeys don’t get away; they get caught and cooked and served up to the presiding family, grandma and grandpa included. But not in my book. Nope, all of the turkeys get away. But then they’re not running away from people. They’re running away from Foxy the Fox, who is really the young protagonist’s dog that has turned into a fox in the boy’s imagination.

I know, it’s all very confusing, but believe me no turkeys get basted and baked. They all escape (even the boy’s dog-turned-hungry-fox morphs back into a playful little pup by the end of the story).

But what does this have to do with losing things?

Everything. You see, I wrote the first draft one night, filed it away in my computer, and then lost it. I couldn’t find it no matter how hard I looked (this was before I really understood and began to use my computer’s search function). So, one year went by, then two, then three, but no luck: I just couldn’t seem to find it. Four years drifted into five, five into six. Then, after seven long years, I finally found it. It was after midnight. I was barely awake. I was looking for something in my computer—I don’t even remember what—and presto! There it was: Setting the Turkeys Free. I read it, tweaked it a bit, and sent it out to an editor the next day—and she bought it, just like that.

So, finding my safety deposit box key delighted me, but didn’t surprise me. Things appear and disappear and reappear in my life all the time (except my wife, she seems to be a constant). With my safety deposit box key in hand, I trudge down to the local branch of my bank and ask if I can turn it in and cancel my box (after all, I never actually used it). After waiting in a very large and empty atrium for an inordinate amount of time, a teller approaches and says, “Follow me.” I do, down into the bowels of the bank, to the lower level where the vaults are kept. We sit down in what appears to be a very high security room (cameras pointed every which way), and start the process of canceling my safety deposit box. One question leads to another, multiple forms of identification are shown, drawers are opened, paperwork riffled through, finally the teller looks up from her desk and says:

Teller: “Well, we don’t seem to have a record of you ever having a safety deposit box.”

Me: “Does that mean I can go?”

Teller: “No, you’ll have to fill out a new safety deposit box application form.”

Me: “But I don’t want to apply to have a box. I just want to turn in my key.”

Teller: “How can you turn in your key if we have no record of you ever having a box?”

Me: “That’s a pretty good question.”

Teller [pushing a stack of papers toward me]: “I’ll need you to fill these out.”

For the next ten minutes or so I fill out one paper after another until I have a properly registered safety deposit box. Once the teller double-checks my completed application form, she looks at me, smiles, and says: “Now, would you like to cancel your safety deposit box?”

“Uh-huh,” I reply, a bit shell-shocked.

“Great, I’ll just need you to fill out these papers.”

At this point in the late-night comedy show the audience hears a loud THUD as the guest falls to the floor in a display of disbelief. But I don’t. I oblige (hoping to salvage what is left of the morning) and fill out the requisite cancelation papers. When I finish, and the teller has double-checked the form, she picks up the phone and calls security: “I need to go into the vault and need someone present.”

In a minute or two Jason bounds down the stairs, says hello, then disappears into the back room (so much for security). Meanwhile, the teller takes an oversized key ring from a lower drawer, beckons me, and heads toward the vault door. “You’ll have to verify that the box is empty,” she says rather dryly. After trying four or five keys, she finally unlocks the door to the vault and enters. I follow her down a small corridor lined floor-to-ceiling with safety deposit boxes. After a brief search, we find mine–#2327—at the very top, just beneath the water-stained ceiling.

To open the box, the teller has to insert two keys—my key and a master key. I can tell from her height that the teller is going to have a hard time doing this. After she tries once or twice, I say, “Let me try.” She looks at me, suspiciously at first, and then says, “Okay.” Although I’m tall enough to insert the keys into the locks, I’m not tall enough to turn them and pull out the box at the same time. We look around for a stool or chair to help us. Nothing. After a minute or two, the teller calls, “Jason, Jason.” But Jason apparently isn’t within earshot. My guess is that the backroom he’s disappeared into so quickly is the lunchroom and he’s deep into a salami sub.

“Look, I really need to get going. How about I lift you up?” I offer.

She just stares at me, this time with a bit more suspicion in her gaze.

“Okay, I have another idea. I’ll get down on my hands and knees. You stand on my back and pull the safety deposit box out, and we’re done.”

She looks at me. Then she looks to her left and right.

“Okay, but let’s do this fast.”

So I get down on my hands and knees and she climbs up on my back, only I forget a minor but important detail: she’s wearing high heels (not tall ones, mind you; but sharp enough that they dig into my back, causing me to flinch). I must have flinched more than I thought, because she looses her balance.

It’s at this point that Jason walks into the vault, quickly assesses what’s happening, and lunges for the safety deposit box, which he catches in midair. Meanwhile, the teller comes crashing down on top of me. We lay there in a pile at Jason’s feet, while he holds the safety deposit box. At least we can verify that it’s empty because the drawer popped open mid-flight revealing its “emptiness.”

I’m reminded of a similarly embarrassing experience I had many years ago. I was in the market for term life insurance and had contacted a company who sent out a nurse to assess my state of health before issuing the policy. She was a middle-aged woman of robust proportions and a flirty smile. Most of the exam consisted of a steady stream of questions: How tall are you? How much do you weigh? Do you smoke? Have you ever smoked? Do you drink? Have you ever had any heart problems? What about cancer?

After awhile we came to the physical assessment part of the exam—temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and all of that. She took out her little nurse’s kit and asked if there was a place that I could lie down. Since we only have a love seat and a couple of chairs separated by several small tables in our living room, I suggested upstairs in the bedroom. She looked at me the way the bank teller looked at me, with suspicion.

“Well, I could lie down on the floor,” I finally offered.

“That will be fine,” she replied.

So I stretched out on the large rag rug that my wife had made in art school and waited. After fussing with her nurse’s kit for some time, she proceeded to kneel down next to me, only the heel on her small pumps caught in the loose threads of the rag rug and she lost her balance. The next thing I know she’s on top of me—stretched out, prone, eyeball-to-eyeball flat on top of me. As I took in the fragrance of her overly-sweet perfume, all I could think of was a song I used to sing in my yoga ashram days: Heart to heart, mind to mind, body to body, it’s so divine.

The other thing I thought about was my wife. What if she happened to come home right at this minute? How would I explain the fact that a busty, overly perfumed woman was lying on top of me on the living room floor? Fortunately, she didn’t come home at that moment. As for the busty, overly-perfumed nurse, she rolled off of me, got to her feet, and ran out the door before I could say Paramahansa Yogananda.

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