Judith Armatta

Judith Armatta is a lawyer, journalist and human rights activist

It's Been Gone A Long Time and I Don't Remember Where I Left It

I’ve been hunting high and low. It’s not on the top of the refrigerator. Nor hiding in a cupboard or crouching in the back of a closet. Underneath the couch conceals only dust bunnies. I thought it could be inside one of my thousands of books. Likely not the ones on Genocide or Racism or Mental Illness. I don’t think I have any Dave Barry, which would be a more likely place. 

I look through the pantry: it’s not among the bags of coffee or cereal; not under the cans of Costco tuna, sardines, or chicken; nor behind the almond milk; the crackers, cookies, pickles, five jars of mustard (it was a mistake), 6 bags of hot cereal (intentional), green tea, gifts of cactus candy which we are hoping to regift, 3 bottles of catsup (another mistake), two gallon bottles of canola oil (They didn’t look so large in the pictures — a problem of online shopping.).

Maybe it’s outside. Not buried in the squirrel food. The bird seed is also a no show. Perhaps the weeds, the weeds, the weeds!!! Could I ever find it there? How many years would it take? Maybe a squirrel or a bird made off with it, enticed by a shiny object. Stashed in the garden bed or a tree? I would look in the basement but I don’t have a hazmat suit and my nephew tore down the fiberglass insulation, leaving it hanging.

OK, it’s unlikely, but there’s still my office. Oh no!! It can’t be stowing away in the broken laptop or the broken printer. No way. The framed photos couldn’t possibly hold it. I just realized they’re all of dead people. Filing cabinets? Not a chance. And if it is, I’ll never find it since I can’t find anything else in them. 

I’ll try the living room. My reading chair offers a slight possibility. I recall laughing out loud over something in the Mitch McConnell book, but I can’t remember what could possibly be funny about Mitch. The stack of newspapers with articles on the Corona Virus, Trump, the 2020 election, the Corona Virus, Trump, the 2020 election, the Corona Virus, Trump .  . . . Why I read more than one edition is a self-defeating mystery and there is not a chance in hell it could be lost among the stories on the Corona Virus, Trump, the 2020 election.

Not much left besides the bedroom, the place that wakes me the instant my head falls on the pillow, unless it’s morning, in which case it takes a loud siren to get me out of bed. Why would I even consider that it might be here? Because I’m running out of possibilities.

Perhaps I lost it during my travels or my sojourn on the East Coast. I didn’t have it during my treatments at Dana Farber. It wasn’t useful when I was writing my book. Just didn’t belong. Nor was our Nation’s Capital a welcoming environment, despite the Obamas living there. I might have to go farther back in time and place to The Netherlands, but I don’t think it was with me when I first went there or throughout living alone monitoring the trial of a war criminal. It was definitely not in Serbia. Maybe Montenegro. Maybe that’s where it still is. But if so, why would it want to leave and join me in the U.S. these days, though it is very much needed and would be highly welcome?

I’m at a loss. Lost in Trumpland in a pandemic. Separated from my once-reliable friend. I don’t know how to win it back. 

So I googled. And, it appears, it’s been with me all the time. Very close at hand, so to speak. The internet tells me that a synonym for “sense of humor” is “funny bone,” which my mother told me was my elbow because it went all pins and needles when I hit it. Somehow, that did not make me laugh. Yet I know I used to have a sense of humor that let me laugh at others’ jokes and witticisms and even let me make some of my own. It seems to have taken leave of me. I don’t know when and I don’t know where to find it. 

So what is a sense of humor and where is mine? Maybe I’ll go listen to old George Carlin records or watch The Daily Show videos.