A 50 year old man was pacing through his 2 bedroom apartment. His thick framed, rectangular glasses and stooping posture would have made you guess 80. He was a Assistant Professor for the Philosophy department at his university and had stayed up all night writing a test, because, although he finished his PhD 15 years ago, he still couldn’t shake his work ethic from freshman year. He was a night-before, all-nighter kind of guy and this was the first final of his first semester of being a Professor. A real professor. Not some goddamn post-doc or professorial assistant, which is a real kick in the balls for a title by the way, mostly employed by the arrogant, God-complex-having 32 year old professors who luck out in the genetic lottery and love to lord over the losers older than them. His bitterness was something he tried to work on with his therapist.
The Professor was nervous because of the exam, and it didn’t help that he hadn’t been able to find his keys since yesterday. He could clearly remember closing the door, and putting them down… somewhere. But where exactly mystified him. Halfway through his third episode of The Sopranos, he remembered that he couldn’t remember where he put his keys.
The usual suspect locations were checked first. Not in the lock, the table, his pants, the bathroom or the fridge (he often went straight from the door to the cheese). He couldn’t look for his keys too long though, as it was mighty high time to start that exam. He finished the episode, and two others while writing. He was afraid the red headed idiot from the third row would complain because no mob based questions had been on the practice test.
After an hour and a half of sleep, he got up, shit-shower-shaved, and was on his way out the door when he realised he had no keys.
Lock, table, pants, bathroom, fridge: nothing. Lock, table, couch, bed, couch-creases, bathroom, toilet, bin, drawers, laundry basket, fridge: nothing. He thought about how good it would be if he could ring his keys from his phone, which lead him to checking his pant pocket. He found the phone in the fridge and cut himself a slice of cheese.
The Professor opened his meditation app, played the Soothing Whalesong background track, and took three deep breaths. Two beads of sweat raced across his forehead, down the slope of his nose, and fell on his chest, where the shirt was already damp.
He took another two deep breaths and wiped himself off with a kitchen cloth. He checked the microwave.
One last deep breath. His eyes opened as the sound of air being expelled through the blowhole interrupted the otherwise peaceful song of a humpback.
Fridge, cutlery drawer, the box of a juicer he used once the day it arrived, bin, laundry basket, pockets, pockets of yesterday’s pants, the floor in all rooms, table, under the table – at the sound of the bell ringing, he jerked his head up and smacked it against the table.
“A kurva anyját!” he yelled.
He shuffled out from underneath the table and scurried to the door.
“I’m sorry, I can’t open the door, I can’t find my keys,” he yelled at the door, his left hand pointlessly projecting the sound from his mouth over the one meter distance.
The door opened, and his neighbour’s twelve year old daughter handed him his keys.
“I think you forgot your keys outside, mister.”
He cried as he rode his electric scooter to the wrong building.
Artwork by Marcel Duchamp “The Fountain”