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Rohse: When inanimate objects conspire

I am absolutely certain many of my inanimate objects have minds of their own — objects such as eyeglasses, car keys, computer, the hot water tap in my shower, even a favorite recipe.

Rohse Colored Glasses

McMinnville's Elaine Rohse is fascinated by words, books and writing - and spends much time sating that fascination.

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I suspect these objects are filled with rebellious resentment because I control every facet of their existence. They don’t like me, so they delight in making my life unpleasant whenever the spirit moves them.

Sometimes several of them gang up together. Many of you, I suspect, have experienced this. When one appliance gives up, it may be followed by another, then another, until every working object in your household has joined in.

Even when just a couple of inanimate objects get together, they can make it quite stressful if you are the affected one. My eyeglasses and my car keys often work together.

Say I’m going shopping and can’t find my car keys. I am very sure I left them in a little bowl on a table in the entryway, as I do every time I come in from driving the car. Now I’m pretty sure my keys have decided to harass me — and I’ll have a dreadful time finding them. But in order to search for them, I must have my glasses. But wait — my glasses are not on the counter where I left them not half an hour ago.

I know what you’re thinking. But I know what’s going on and this is going to be an unpleasant day for me.

When I can’t find my glasses, I don’t know where to look because I always leave them on the kitchen counter. But with their having fun today at my expense, I’m in a quandary. I head down the hall to look in the bedroom to see if my glasses are there, and in the hallway, I glanced in a big mirror on the wall — and there on top of my head I am astounded to see my glasses. I never push my glasses atop my head like that, but my glasses thought it would be fun to try it out. I suspect that my keys also thought that amusing.

Now, with glasses in hand, I should at least be able to more easily find my keys. I think back to what I was wearing when I last drove, and the purse I was carrying. I check two purses and find nothing but some tired kleenex, and then started checking a bag that is always playing tricks on me. It has a tiny pocket way down out of sight, and I always forget to look there, which is why my car keys like to choose that as a hiding place.

I’ve been fooled countless times. I have gone shopping for groceries and returning to the car to get out my keys, have been so positive that they were not in my purse that I have gone back to the cash register to see if I left them there. Only then do I remember the hidden secret pocket — and there I find those impish car keys.

We’re often told that dogs sense when a person is afraid of them or doesn’t like dogs, and they are then more apt to bite that person. Dogs, of course, are not inanimate, but it’s pretty incredible for them to have that ability.

Horses also supposedly have a similar sense. On the ranch, my stepfather, Lynn, had a fine black saddle horse. It was a feisty animal and no one in our family was permitted to ride the horse except Lynn. It is said that horses sense the rider who is afraid and is not able to handle them. When such a person climbs in the saddle, the horse often delights in getting rid of him at first opportunity.

My computer is like that. It knows what a klutz I am with regard to technology and delights in taking advantage of my inability to deal with it.

It senses I am afraid of it, and as I am trying to meet a deadline or get something important finished, my computer crashes. Similarily, it takes delight in rejecting emails when I know I have the correct address. I’ve checked it three times. Tried to send it over and over. And I so wanted my friend to know how much I appreciated that message.

It’s hard to believe my shower has a mind of its own, but I’m pretty sure it does. I like hot showers — so hot I can scarcely stand it. And so it is that I am reveling in that wonderful heat, when, wham, the water temperature drops about 20 degrees and I think I’m in the Pacific Ocean. I know my resentful shower is showing me it isn’t at my mercy, after all.

Now I am wondering if this mindset hasn’t been passed along to my recipes — all the old favorites that turned out beautifully every time you made them, recipes everyone wanted at company dinners. Somehow I’m quite sure they, too, have acquired that ability to impose their will on me whenever I’m having company for dinner.

The Sally Lunn bread was always great for company dinners until the last time. It didn’t rise, as if I’d forgotten the yeast — and I hadn’t. I was ashamed to serve it. No one had a second slice, and no one asked for my recipe.

It’s happening with lots of my old dependable favorites. They just no longer turn out as they always did before. I don’t know how they can do that. But they can.

But I guess one can believe in action by inanimates, when such incredible things exist in this world as square trees. In Panama, there is a valley of square trees — of the cottonwood family — and their growth rings also are square.

This is the only known place in the world that can boast of square trees.

Another incredible discovery makes plausible belief in about anything. Years ago, Dr. Karl von Frisch of the University of Munich determined that bees actually have a language similar to sign language. According to reports about his experiments, the researcher was able to get some idea as to what the bees were talking about and even predicted their behavior from the conversations.

The different kinds of bees have quite different languages, von Frisch learned, but he could not determine whether they were understood by one another.

The world is indeed an unbelievable place. Another illustration of this is the story of a rodent, the Norway lemming — a short-tailed black and brown animal with golden stripes about the size of a hamster. These lemmings were known for a periodic mass suicidal march off a cliff. But now we’re told this was a misconception, and it was not an effort to kill themselves. Their high reproductive rate and resulting population growth had resulted in a scarcity of food where they lived, so, of a necessity, they undertook an ill-fated effort to seek greener pastures.

But as for my problem with impish inanimate objects, the answer may to try to be nicer to them and less demanding and dictatorial.

Honestly, though, it seems to me those objects really have a pretty good life.

I wouldn’t mind being a little more inanimate some days. I often feel guilty about taking a long nap.

Elaine Rohse can be reached at rohse5257@comcast.net.

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