When I was younger, I used to wonder where the term “losing your marbles” (aka losing your wits/mind) came from. As far as I could tell, in order to lose something you had to own it first, and I didn’t possess any marbles, having never understood how to play with them. Which left me in a peculiar dilemma—acquire marbles to have something to lose, or maintain myself at the point everyone else regresses to, or worry about sensible kid things like the unknowability of the universe.
Over a decade later, however, I’m learning that marbles might be just one of the least severe symptoms.
Friday, I went out with some high school friends to Legacy West, an upscale outlet mall. (You know your city is boring when the tourist destination is just some form of a mall. When I lived in Frisco, our city’s claim to fame was a fight between two teen girls decking it out in the food court, which got filmed and uploaded to Crazy Fightz.) We had dinner at Legacy Hall, a food hall, where a friend and I embarrassed ourselves by repeatedly asking around for water with the giant “WATER HERE” sign two feet behind us. Afterward, we walked around and settled on a bench outside a Shake Shack.
Ten minutes after we’d said our goodbyes and I’d slid into the car, pleasantly surprised at how smoothly our plans had gone, I noticed my purse was lying flat on the seat. I peeked inside. My water bottle was gone.
I realized the water bottle was probably not worth the gas it’d take to drive back, but some necessary context is that I am a serial water bottle loser. I’ve lost at least five water bottles in the past few semesters, which is really just several weeks because I go through phases during which I remember water is essential to life and other times, well, I still remember and don’t drink.
So this time, instead of recognizing my burgeoning problem and admitting defeat, I decided I would find this water bottle. There were only two places I could’ve left it anyway: Legacy Hall, where we’d dined, and outside Shake Shack. I figured that as I’d gotten a water cup at the Hall, I wouldn’t have needed to take out my water bottle, so I trekked to Shake Shack.
Me: It’s a Swell water bottle. White with blue markings.
Employee, face lighting up: Oh!
Me: Did you find it? I’d have left it less than an hour ago.
Employee: I’ll get my manager.
I guess he’d just gotten really excited about delegating.
Pitifully, I trekked back to the parking garage. Then I decided, screw the sunk cost fallacy, if I was going to search, I’d do it right. I walked out again and back to Legacy Hall. At 9PM, the Hall was so packed I had to weave through crowds to make it to the table where we’d sat, but I happened to spot the waiter who’d served us.
I asked him if he’d seen my water bottle, and he stared at me with an expression that questioned why I was even asking. I would’ve thought it was obvious. Clearly there aren’t FBI agents discreetly tracking down missing water bottles, unless there are and they’re just extraordinarily good at their jobs.
I walked back to the car again, empty-handed, and wondered if I’d just imagined it all. My heart sank as I imagined the worst. Not a stranger gleefully chugging away at my marked and used $35-but-given-to-me-for-free bottle. Not the bottle rolling into a gutter. No, I imagined the possibility of it sitting on the table at home, right where I might have left it without taking it with me.
Closing the garage, I opened the door, and there it was, in all its glory.
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