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Unsolved Mysteries

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I like having answers. Don’t we all? That’s why fear of the unknown is such a uniting theme. One of the best things about working at the library was the professional excuse to look up answers to almost any question that popped into my head.

But there are some questions that I will never have answers to, and I just have to accept that fact. But that doesn’t mean I can’t compile a list of them to obsess over.

When I was in fifth grade we were doing a lesson about hard vs. soft g sound. For the life of me I still can’t remember which one is hard and which one is soft; I just remember it seemed counterintuitive. But one of the questions asked us about the word “garage” and specified the second g. But there had also been discussion about a third “G” sound: not the “guh” one, or the “juh” one, but the “jzhe.” Maybe it’s a regional thing, but I’ve heard it pronounced both “gar-adge” and “gar-azhe.” Okay I don’t know how to phonetically spell that one, but it was the jzhe kind of sound, like when people jokingly say “tar-jay” to be ironically fancy, or the “s” in “measure.” A Google search seems to deny that G even makes that sound in English, but my teacher was patient and understanding and allowed that I had heard both pronunciations and neither was wrong, but we would never know what the creators of the worksheet intended.

Another mystery I’ll never solve is why my neighbor spends so much time just sitting in her car parked on the street. The other day she pulled up and stayed in her car for 56 minutes before she went inside. I suppose I could ask her but…. I don’t want to.

Sometimes something will remind me of a story I read or heard or saw in the distant past, and I only remember one brief snippet of it until I really concentrate and remember the rest of the story and how it was presented and whether I even liked it or not. One that frequently comes back to my mind is something with a rhinoceros and a swimming pool at a big fancy party. Far more often than seems reasonable, I find myself trying to remember what happened to that rhinoceros only to remember Douglas Adams died before he finished writing the Salmon of Doubt and no one will ever know.

I’ll never know what happened to Pippin’s brothers. I hope they were good bois who were as loved as Pippin. I wonder if DNA tests of them would shed more light on their pedigree since they looked so different from Pippin, and if I had been crazy enough to adopt all three of them, would they have gotten along well enough to warrant the names I’d have given them (the brown one would have been Merry and the very fluffy one would have been Samwise, and even in the chaos, I’m sure Pippin, like his namesake, would have remained my favorite).

Before we got married, our minister lent us a couple of books to help plan the ceremony. I looked through them, planned everything out, and then when it was time to return the books, I only found one of them. We turned our apartment upside down looking for it. It’s been nine years and we’ve moved twice since then, and the book has never turned up. I apologized to our minister and she said it was fine, but I still feel badly about it, and more than a little puzzled, but I’ll never know what happened to that book.

I had a book (a different book, this is a new anecdote) when I was really little and I can still see in my mind one of the pages where the bears (the main characters of the story) were flying kites, and later they had a net full of balloons that they flew away in like a hot air balloon. I no longer have the book, and my parents remember the book, but not the name of it. I scoured resources when I worked at the library for clues, but there are a gajillion children’s books about bears, and specifying “teddy bears” doesn’t really narrow it down, but I don’t remember if they were teddy bears anyway. There was some problem with the bear community, and they went to the Head Bear “H.B.” to solve the problem. I don’t know what the problem was or how H.B. solved it. As I mentioned before, at some point all the bears were flying kites, including a panda with a box kite, because I couldn’t wrap my head around how a box kite would work (I still don’t get it, if I’m being honest). If anyone happens to read this and knows, I’d love to hear it, but I’ve pretty well resigned to the fact that I’ll never know what that book was. You can explain about the box kites, too, if you want, but I’m more concerned about the book.

Our old apartment complex had a small gym for residents to use. The gym consisted of a rack of free weights, an elliptical, a treadmill, and one weight machine. It wasn’t much but it was convenient as we were young and didn’t have the spare cash for a gym membership, and I made a habit of going to this tiny workout room for some cardio. I could have run outside but the neighborhood had some hills beyond my skill and I didn’t yet have a big dog to protect me from stranger danger. Also, I Love Lucy reruns make the time go by a lot faster and I have a harder time finding those in the wild than on the gym TV. I developed a nemesis, though: another resident who also used the treadmill. I touched a little on my discomfort with sharing workout spaces in my post about swimming, but this went to a deeper level. The woman would put the television on something unwatchable and walk the entire time while playing Candy Crush on her iPad and, for some unfathomable reason, pop cinnamon Altoids like they were amphetamines. I mostly hated her because she would walk for at least an hour, hogging the treadmill with light activity when I just needed thirty minutes to get a quick run in. I never spoke to her, but several times I would head to the workout room and return to the apartment only a minute later, and with an exasperated growl of “Altoid Lady!” flop on the floor to fume.

One afternoon when I was home and Kalen was at work, I was drawn from my apartment by siren song, but not the sexy mermaid kind, the way-too-close firetruck kind, and I joined a small but curious crowd in the apartment courtyard as we watched flames leap from one of the apartment buildings at the far end of the complex as several large fire engines pumped a river’s worth of water into the inferno. It was later revealed that the fire had started on a resident’s balcony from an improperly extinguished cigarette butt.

I’ll never know who actually started the fire, but I had noticed the lingering smell of stale cigarette smoke in the gym after Altoid Lady left, and I never saw her after the fire, so Kalen and I always wondered if the fire had been her fault. Her departure could have been coincidental. Or she could have been one of the unlucky neighbors whose adjacent apartment was destroyed. I’ll never know. But I don’t know her name and no one reads this anyway, so it’s not defamation if I pretend it was her.

What are some mysteries you’ve accepted that you’ll never have the answer to? Did you enjoy reading this nonsense? Because if you did, I might write more as I accumulate more idiotic questions I can’t answer. Or I might write more anyway. Leave me a comment and don’t set your apartment on fire.

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