We have a new family tradition of pancakes on Saturday mornings. The kids like this because they love pancakes, and I like this because Otto is in charge of making them, which generally means he not only makes the pancakes, but empties the dishwasher and does all the dishes, as well.
(After four and a half years of being a single mom, that right there is as close to a wet dream as I’ll ever get.)
So this morning started out typically enough: Monkey arose before everyone else, came down to our room and hopped into bed for a quick snuggle. I hugged and kissed him and suggested he go watch cartoons. Off he went. Otto and I fell back asleep. Then Chickadee got up and came and hopped into bed for her snuggle, and asked when we’d be getting up. I said “soon.” She went off to watch cartoons. Otto and I fell back asleep. Chickadee came back and asked if we were getting up now. We said “soon.” She left. We fell back asleep. Chickadee came back and said “I AM REALLY HUNGRY WHEN ARE YOU GETTING UUUUUUUUP?” and we got up.
Otto commenced with the pancake-making while I stumbled around muttering about how I should be allowed to sleep all day on Saturdays if I want. (Hahahaha!) After a short bit of time we were all seated at the table, enjoying our perfectly round pancakes.
[Digression: I sometimes make the kids Mir McMuffins, which is your typical egg and cheese and ham thing on an English muffin, and after some very oddly-shaped eggs while I was getting the hang of my new cast-iron pan, I mentioned for perhaps the hundredth time that I should REALLY go find some of those round eggs forms so that my eggs would be perfectly muffin-sized. Otto nodded and then WENT OUT AND BOUGHT ME SOME like, maybe the next day. I guess the egg overhang on his muffin was really disturbing; I don’t know. ANYWAY. I have used the forms ONCE for McMuffins since then, but Otto has delighted in using them to make perfect pancakes ever since. I am a teensy bit worried that my OCD tendencies are wearing off on him every time I see that plate of identically round and uniform pancakes.]
Our kitchen table sits by a bay window that overlooks our porch and casino/gazebo and while the kids cheerfully scooped butter directly into their gaping maws I noticed Otto studying the porch rather more intently than one would expect when there is a giant plate of steaming carbs sitting there.
“Are you… looking for something?” I asked.
“Yes,” he answered, turning to me as if having just decided something important, “I woke up in the middle of the night last night wondering whatever happened to our bench.”
I was confused. First, because I hardly ever wake up at night thinking about furniture. Second, because I had a park bench at the old house that was falling apart and we’d tucked into the greenery at the yard’s edge at some point. We didn’t bother bringing it with us.
“The one covered with AZALEAS?” Chickadee asked. Ah, she remembered it, too.
“No, the one that was here when we moved in,” said Otto, turning to me with some impatience. “Remember that?”
And suddenly I DID remember; there had been a bench almost identical to my old one (save for the falling apart-ness) here on the deck when we moved in. We’d been delighted to discover it. We moved it at one point to make way for our grill, and then….
It was all coming back to me.
“Wait. That’s RIGHT! Where the heck is that??” Otto and I looked at each other.
“What are you talking about?” Chickadee asked.
“Well honey,” I told her, “there was a bench here when we moved in. And we moved it—”
“—to make room for the grill,” added Otto.
“Right, it was where the grill is now, and we moved it against the house, and then… oh! And then the roofers were here, so we… well we must’ve moved it then, right?”
We considered this for a moment.
“But—” I stopped, because this was too ridiculous to say out loud.
“Right,” said Otto. We were both nodding, slowly, “we must’ve moved it when the roofers were here, but WHERE DID IT GO? When’s the last time you remember seeing it?”
The roofers where here two months ago. I couldn’t remember having seen the bench after they were here. Yet NEITHER of us had realized this until now. We are so observant!
“Okay, wait. Benches don’t walk away. Maybe the roofers moved it?”
“Sure, but WHERE? It’s not under the deck. It’s not in the shed, there’s no room.”
An undertone of unease was creeping in. “Who took our bench??” asked Otto.
Last week some friends of ours were robbed. While I would ordinarily assume that a missing bench was most likely a feat of extreme obliviousness (like, maybe it’s right there next to the garage and we just haven’t noticed it? or the roofers set it behind the shed and we haven’t been back there?), now there’s a note of doubt to this predicament wherein we have to wonder if someone came to our house and stole it.
Because, you know. It’s a park bench. Very fancy, and extremely valuable.
“Do you think maybe the owners came back for it?” Otto asked me.
“No, they were out of state already,” I pointed out.
Chickadee was on the case. “Okay, Mama, when weren’t you here that someone could’ve come and taken it?” I had to bite back a laugh because sure, let me whip out my day planner and let you know exactly when I was absent from the homestead here long enough to accommodate a bench-napping.
The pancakes were long gone before we had to admit that we simply had no idea what happened to the stupid bench, or when. And we’re not sure which is sadder, that possibly someone stole our bench, or that it took us TWO MONTHS to notice.