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key pee pole hiking running Superior Hiking Trail the force

Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want: This Key

I wasn’t kidding. This story is a continuation of the previous one. I know you’re all, “Well, even though I didn’t read her last post, I’m not about to go back now and waste my precious time on it. No, I’m NOT. I’m just going to read this one here and piece it all together. I’m smart. I can do that.”

Yes, honey. Yes. You’re smart. And you’re pretty and sweet, and the other kids just don’t understand you.

But go back and read the previous post anyhow.

I’m waiting. (*taps foot and begins humming “Ina-Gadda-Davita”*)

What, you again?

You haven’t even scrolled down to it yet, ya Big Faker. It was called “Like Searching for a Grain of Broken Rice in a Bowl of Particularly-Soggy Shredded Wheat,” and it involved my talented girl parts and a 95 minute run, so you really don’t want to miss it.

Schlep off now.

I’ll wait. (*starts filing nails and practicing some “Mr. Bojangles” soft shoe, further proving her ability to multi-task when fingernails and vaudeville converge*)

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Oh, HI. I’m glad you’re back, you upstanding and honest reader who’d never skip a preliminary post in an effort to cadge four extra life minutes during which you dreamily picture what Sarah Palin looks like with her glasses off, hair down, her “energy plan” a’roarin’. Now that you’re up to speed:

So yup. There we were the next day, the Assembled Family Jocelyn, ready to fan out the family’s collective vision and scan every stick, leaf, and dead raccoon on a very particular stretch of the Superior Hiking Trail, in search of my shiny silver Camry car key.

(if you have no idea what I’m referring to and are just kind of nodding and smiling blankly after that last paragraph, that’s because you are one seriously lazy cuss and didn’t EVEN go back and read that previous post, Mrs. Pants On Fire…like it’s so onerous to take a few measly minutes out of your life to catch up with the rest of us. You’re just a living, breathing, personified “War of the Worlds” broadcast, fooling the entire audience into thinking one thing’s happening when, in truth, you’re just sitting in your lazy chair drinking Diet Mt. Dew and pretending to be “an avid blog reader and defender against alien attack”)

Before the family gathered around, I had done some kitchen-table triangulation and narrowed down the most likely area for the key loss–to a spot called “Pee Alley.” Knowing this, we could park on a nearby road and hike in a few hundred yards, looking all the while for browning ferns and a mish-mash of footprints that indicated a Woman/Ipod scuffle.

But first, we had to get the kids out and on the trail, the motivational script of which read,

Me: “Okay, now that you’re both home from school, we’re going to drive up to the spot where Mommy was running yesterday when she lost her key.”

Kids: “Mommy, why do you talk about yourself in the third person? It creeps us out.”

(okay, they didn’t say that, as they’re still learning–and will be for at least another decade–that anything beyond first person exists in the world)

Me: “So, listen, we’re going for a lovely hike on this sunny fall day. Our mission: to find a silver key.”

Kids: “Don’t wanna and are not.”

Me: “This actually wasn’t a request. We. are. going. out. to. the. woods. And. we. will. make. this. an. adventure. And. FUN. You. poopshoots.”

Kids: “Not going. Don’t like hiking.”

Me: “In what universe do children of mine not like hiking? This is unimaginable–preposterous–like women over thirty wearing leggings under a tunic blouse! Clearly, you are not the true people I grunted out from my body; anyone fostered under my care is destined to have a life-long fixation with sumacs and granite and singing The Smiths amongst them. Pod-people, you are clearly not my children. Either you hike with Pappy and me, or I love you not.”

Kids: “Hey, Mom? You’re kind of a dinkus.”

Me: “I know what you are, but what am I? Now get in the car.”

Kids: “Not going. No hikey. Can’t make us.”

Me: “The key is very shiny, you know, which means it’s glamorous. Only the cleverest of people could ever find the treasure that is a lost key in the woods. Let me tell you a tale about the kind of person who only wishes he could find a key in the woods: there was a guy once who seemed, on the surface, to be clever, a guy named Johnny Keyfinder. One day, he plunged into the woods, in search of a key. After many hours, he emerged, keyless, having fooled himself that he’d found something better: a hand full of appleseeds. Listen to this: old Johnny ‘Keylacker’ Appleseed then wandered the country for years after, holding his seeds in one hand and shaking hands with the other. Now how clever does he sound to you? Not very, eh? Not bloody clever at all. Kind of dumb hickish, if you want to use real words about it. Seriously–how did he think he’d wipe himself or cut a steak, what with both hands already so busy? This man was NO keyfinder. He was just a busy-pawed gladhander. Eventually he keeled over, appleseeds in hand, with his last words being, ‘I never did find me a key, so what’s it all been about?’ His legend pales in comparison to the one you two are going to create today, when you hit those woods and find Mommy’s key!!!!”

Kids: “Gracious! He was hebetudinous. We must differentiate ourselves from that dolt. Hie now–to the horseless carriage. Oh, and thanks for the thesaurus last Christmas, O Maternal Matriarch.”

Me: “Huzzah! The afternoon is ours to seize.”

So then we, like, drove there and stuff.

The second we stopped the car, as predicted in a secret wink-wink-eye-rolling exchange between Groom and me, the kids did shape up and forget their hatred of Woods. They ran to the trail and began bushwacking, peering, and


herky-jerking on the balance beam known as “uprooted and suspended birch.”

Two minutes in, the true beauty of the afternoon became apparent, particularly to the Star Warsian Wee Niblet:

We were in Ewok country.

Vexingly, Ewok Country is rife with stands of browning ferns, each looking more like a possible pit stop for a full-bladdered runner than the last.

But the Jedi Youngling was not daunted.

Picking up speed,


Niblet gathered light saber sticks, thrashed the bushes in search of battle droids, and continued his Jedi training, which has advanced considerably in the last few months. Specifically, his ability to harness The Force has gained finesse.


Concentrating, the lad raised his hand and channeled all his fledgling powers into using The Force to find that key.

Fortunately, Jedi Master Groom was in the lead. Stopping suddenly and staring intently at the ground, Groom called to his Padawan, “This looks like a spot in need of your attention, Boy. Focus your powers here, and let The Force do its work.”

Skipping along, humming a new song learned in kindergarten (“Hell-ooow/How are you?/I’m so glad/To see you”), holding his Force-channeling hand in the air, Niblet abruptly pulled up short.

He stared hard for a minute, soaking in the quiet of the immense trees surrounding him, and then carefully bent down.

When he straightened to his full height–equal to that of the brown ferns cloaking him–he peeled open his hand, on which balanced–

by the Original Light!–

a silver key.

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key running simpleton Superior Hiking Trail the force woods

Like Finding a Grain of Broken Rice in a Particularly-Soggy Bowl of Shredded Wheat

Blissy.

That’s an apt word for how I felt during my run on the Superior Hiking Trail last week.

Maybe Glimmery.

Possibly Elysian.

Having my feet off asphalt, dodging rocks and roots, listening to the creek burbling nearby, I very nearly wanted to whip up a quick fire and cremate myself right there and then, just so I could pay the place tribute by scattering my ashes amidst those trees.

The truth is I’m a tragic slogger of a runner; I might have popped my ankle on an unruly slab of the Canadian Shield at any minute; I could’ve been mauled by a crabby badger; yet I couldn’t have been more happlefunky.

As I huffed along, a googly smile on my face, I twigged to something: I’m a very simple soul.

Oh, yes, I is.

With nothing but time on my hands and mud on my shoes, I started cataloguing the tenets that result in my simplicity. Clearly, I think trails are crunk. But I’ve got other values, too, Luther. Like four of them. Pretty much, I think–

1) Stuff should be fun
2) I should stop and holler about stuff when it’s fun
3) Profiteroles should run for president, and then I would have something to vote for
4) People should say what they’re thinking and let the hell go of all that blah-blah-blah namby-pamby fake nodding and smiling. If there is any discrepancy between what people are thinking and what they are saying, their bodies should explode into rainbow-colored confetti and fall gently to the earth.

My values brainstorming continued throughout my 70 minute run, taking a breather only when I crouched down in a stand of browning ferns to empty my bladder…and then for the two minutes after that, as I struggled to retrieve my wayward Ipod–it suddenly fancying itself a speculum and me in for a pap smear–from the general region of my cooch. After the bathroom break and intimate struggle with technology (“Look! A very talented part of my nether regions pressed ‘Play’!”), I hopped back on the trail and revved it up again, adding, revising, tallying, working very hard to keep my values list tight, lest I overreach my calculated and complex hope of simplicity.

As the podcast I was listening to during my mental shenanigans ended, the playlist shifted to music, and I tell you, Moses, that if listening to The Cure on a fine fall afternoon while flitting through low-hanging branches doesn’t convince you that Friday you’re in love, then you need some cotton candy and a hug from your mama because you’re lolling in some serious doldrums.

The Cure morphed into Morrissey, and, perhaps trying to outrun the existential morosity, I sped up, racing the last twenty minutes back to the car, tacking on a final triumphant 100 meters at the end.

Out of habit, I stopped the timer on my watch and started digging into my shorts’ ultra-secret key pocket.

Or as I now call it, my ultra-secret lame-ass lose-your-key pocket.

Yup, mostly likely during my ungainly cha-cha with the Ipod after that powder room break amongst the ferns, roughly 35 minutes back, the key had tinkled to the ground, alongside my Mr. Peebodies.

Fer feck’s sake.

It was dusk; Groomeo was awaiting my return so he could have his go at running and peeing in the woods; and I suddenly had miles to go at a slow, slow creep. What to do?

Re-clipping the Ipod, restarting the watch, and turning my face downhill, I was off, a veritable Steve Prefontaine sans cheesy mustache (my mustache is much more delicate and feminine). Twenty-five minutes later, I encountered the whole family at our neighborhood playground, where Groom greeted me with a hearty, “So help me, if the kids ask one more time ‘When will Mommy be here?’, I’m going to duct tape their skulls together.”

After my brief-but-inspiring narration of the key-loss saga, Groom took off on his run, which he finished at the still-locked Toyota Camry near the trailhead. Nice job, that: having a ride home.

The next day, with daylight and refreshed spirits and cooches on our side, the entire family would join in on Key Hunt 2008 (not to be confused with Key Hunt 2006…and, man, wasn’t that a David Blaine fiasco!)

–a hunt which, in the dense foliage of the Northwoods, would be a challenging search akin to finding even a lick of foresight in one George W’s blindered brain.

By the end of that day, thus, I was back to my usual morally-nebulous self, finding that I’d failed to live up to even the simplest of my values:

1) I’d had some fun, but it had ended rather crud
2) I’d made some noise while I was having fun (who can’t sing along with “Please, please, please, let me/get what I want/this time”?), but then I shut up when the crud hit
3) Profiteroles were still not president
4) The only frank thing I had to say was, “When the Mara Salva Trucha gang offered me those ride-ganking and hot-wiring lessons back in ’97, I damn well should’ve taken them up on the offer, even if it would have relegated me to a year of payback as their international drug mule.”
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(this story to be continued anon in “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want: This Key”)

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