There are people who think that my life lacks a certain organization. They doubt my ability to balance a checkbook and to grope my way from one day to another. Actually, that's the way it looks from the road. If you were to look at my checkbook it would make no sense to you. However, it is very possible that yours doesn't look as if it were a printout from Price Waterhouse.
Let me just say that I seldom am overdrawn because I'm so terrified of having checks bounce, I allow myself a small cushion so if I make a tiny error I will be covered.
Even though my file drawers are jumbled and stuffed with things jammed in sideways, I can almost always, given enough time, find what I want. In looking, I find a lot of amazing things that often pique my memory.
But the one thing in my office that sometimes leaves me with nowhere to turn, lost and addled in a world I never made, is my calendar.
It is a large black book with red corners and there is a page for each day. Often, I can't understand it at all. When I write down an invitation for an appointment, they all sound so fascinating, I am sure I won't forget a single detail. This is not always true.
Oh, dentists' and doctors' appointments are easy. The names tell you all you need to know, and if the time isn't there you can always call and ask the darlings. What I am put off by are messages that simply cannot be unwound.
There is a note in the month of September that says, "Rooms for 16 Japanese newsmen."
Got that? How would you approach that? If it had been in the 1984 calendar, it would have made sense. I was doing the housing for the media for a political convention and I had all sorts of such notes. But why it is in the 1986 book, I cannot tell.
I have favorites. My friend Pat Windom who occasionally has this problem has a few favorites from my calendar. One says, "My house for 20."
No time, no hint as to the 20. Are they guests? Will I know them? Will someone call ahead of time and ask how to get here, thus enabling me to unravel the mystery?
One I am still waiting for is scheduled for next month and says, "Tour entire plant." What plant? Why me?
One page says, "Allen for boxes." Did it slip my mind that I am moving? Is it theater boxes?
One I like is, "Take typewriter." Well, of course I would take a typewriter if I were going to be gone but it says nothing about arrival or departure time and no mention of where I am going. Another says, "Everybody got blue but Bob Abernethy got red."
To my great surprise, I understand. It means orchids. I gave the blue food to all of the plants except for the one Bob Abernethy gave me.
Next week, on Tuesday, there's a note that says, "City Hall."
No town. No time. Just "City Hall."
One note says, "Find Manual." Now that is a little cloudy. Is it a manual of instructions or is a gentleman's name Manual? The next page says "Call Lora LaMarco about golden monkeys." I can handle that one, oddly enough. Lora is the head of education for the Los Angeles Zoo and the golden monkeys from China are coming for a visit. I'll tell you more about that later.
I really am getting better, though. Nothing will ever equal the stark terror in my bones when I read, "Take fried chicken for 25." No cast of characters and no location and no time.
I did the only thing I could think of. I bought enough chicken for an Iowa picnic and fried it and then sat and stared at the phone. I was rewarded at 5:30 p.m. when the phone rang and it was a friend saying, "Are you going to take your car?"
Through questioning that would have been a credit to Jessica Fletcher, I found where I was to be with my chicken and when.
I know that none of these things happen to you, that your checkbook balances, that you know where your passport is and where your income-tax returns for the past seven years are. Good for you. As for the rest of us, fry that chicken and be ready at 5:30. Oh, and ask Lora LaMarco not to bring the golden monkeys.