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Guest column: How to find things
by Man Martin
Guest Columnist
December 19, 2012 02:39 PM | 4349 views | 5 5 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Man Martin
Man Martin
Step 1: Lose Something.

Without this first step, none of the rest of the steps even make sense. Imagine what a chump you’d feel if someone asked what you were looking for, and you had to reply, “Nothing. I’m just looking in general to stay in practice.”

A person with a serious commitment to finding things must have an equally serious commitment to losing them. Personally, I have up to 10 things at any given time, which I have either temporarily or permanently mislaid. Of course, I’m an expert, and this is not something the amateur should attempt. I advise starting small by pretending to lose things.

Put your glasses down on the coffee table. Now look the other way and say to yourself, “I wonder where those glasses are.” Then turn around and voila! There they are.

Step 2: Stand with One Hand on Your Hip and Scratch the Back of Your Head.

Once you’ve really lost something and aren’t just playing silly games with a pair of glasses when you know exactly where they are, you’ll want to get in what we call the “starting position.” In putting a hand on your hip, you will unconsciously make a fist. This will signal the amygdala in your brain to release the flight-or-fight hormones in addition to the all-important “where-the-hell-did-I-put-those-stupid-glasses-I-had-them-just-a-second-ago” hormone.

Scratching your head does not stimulate the brain, which can’t feel a thing under a quarter inch of bone, but it stimulates the hair follicles and besides you may discover a little bump back there you didn’t suspect, and think, “Uh-oh. What’s this?

I wonder if I should get a doctor to look at this.” This will take your mind off what you’ve lost and give you something new and more entertaining to worry about.

Step 3: Cuss.

Many inanimate objects have an acutely developed sense of shame and may show themselves if you let them know you’re angry. Sometimes even calling them “stupid” can do the trick. Being inanimate, they have no intelligence whatsoever. They realize this and are very sensitive on this point.

Step 4: Actually Begin Looking.

This is perilous and should not be tried until the back of the head has been thoroughly scratched and the supply of cuss-words exhausted. Searching, say through a desk covered with a mound of papers, is apt to mess up the delicately balanced ecosystem of trash and clutter with which you are surrounded.

Frankly, at this juncture, I recommend you tell yourself whatever it is, you can do without it, or that “It’s bound to turn up sooner or later.” Lies, of course, but as my Aunt Reenie used to say, “If at first you don’t succeed, try again. After that, give up.”

5: Ask Someone.

This is as risky in its way as Step 4, but for very different reasons. If you ask somebody, nine times out of 10, they’ll say something like, “Your glasses are right there on the coffee table.” And there they’ll be.

Of course the only reason they were so easy to find is Step 3 embarrassed them so badly, they deliberately stayed hidden until just then to show you up.

However, explaining to someone that it’s easy to find something once you’d already “loosened it up” by head-scratching and cussing is likely to make them doubt your sanity and will not prevent them lecturing you about how if you stayed organized you wouldn’t have to spend so much time looking for things.

Luckily, when this unsympathetic passer-by hectors you for losing something, there’s a great snappy comeback that will stop him in his tracks and make him feel the quivering worm he is.

It came to me last night, and I wrote it on a piece of paper. Which, unfortunately, I lost.

Man Martin, a Brookhaven resident, is a teacher and author and blogs at

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