I walked slowly through the rain, proceeding up a long, straight ramp and turning just at the end at the side of the road to get to her. I had to ask her something. I began to ran. The rain poured hard upon my head, my backpack, my green coat, experienced as it was. And I finally made it to her door, cold. I proceeded in, and waited for the others to finish their questions for her. Finally, she turned to me.
“Who was the guy who lived in the Middle Ages and wore his shirt so long that it grew into his skin and became infested with maggots and killed him?” I asked my history teacher.
“Thomas Aquinas”, she said.
And so concluded an event, one which may remain with me for months, until I bonk my head, or maybe even longer. It was an event that I could never expect… but one that would nonetheless be a powerful emotional experience.
It was when I checked the Lost and Found.
Perhaps I should back up a little bit, to Spring Break 2007. You see, whenever I’m about to get off school for a week, my brain has already been on vacation for much longer, and so, while I was getting ready for a long, long break, I accidentally left a very important book, a $55 book, somewhere at school. And I left for “Spring Break”, which was not so much a “break” as six days of torture, beginning with hours and hours of work, and culminating in finding out that I had a guitar concert the following week.
When I came back to school, I immediately realized what horrors I had unleashed upon myself. The only book I had lost this year, gone! I checked every class, every person, every place, dreading that time that I might, sadly, have to check the Lost and Found.
And so, today was the day that I was finally left with no choice. As angels cooed above me the Elegy of Death, I asked the pimply-faced Lost and Found Keeper for permission to explore the realm of the Lost and Found.
“OK”, he said. And so he led me to the Lost and Found.
Its gate was a backpack emblazoned with the word: “MISFITS”. It was a box covered in clothing from all walks of life: A black coat; another black coat; a whole lot more black coats; and one “Letterman” jacket, for a brave-yet-stupid knight of the noble Order of the Cougar. And as I began to explore deeper, the distinctive, pungent odor of the Realm began to fill my nostrils: A smell I could barely comprehend; the smell of a Goodwill store or the Salvation Army, only much worse. And it was then that I realized I had to delve deeper into the Realm to attempt to find my booty.
As I had first entered the Realm, it appeared as one would see a muffin; as if there was a small little bit that had remained in the muffin-holder, but that the rest, finding no home there, would spill out of the sides, covering the floor in Gothic attire bought from Hot Topic. Only it was really more like a garbage can, and I felt almost as if I was searching through old, decaying papers, discarded pizza boxes, dog turds, banana peels, syphilis-laced underwear, and of course, the all-too-famous needles with all sorts of diseases on them, in a desperate attempt to find a single diamond. You must understand, I have known Goths; and other than the fact that they are the strangest race around, they also tend to be the least clean, and I was reminded at that time of a statistic: 7% of Americans say they have never taken a bath. I was certain: If anybody was not going to take a bath, they would also probably wear a backpack that said “MISFITS” on it.
As I went deeper, the Keeper of the Realm began asking me questions: “Are you sure you need to look through there?” “What are you looking for?” And on and on. But I was determined to find this book. I finally reached the end, and began to claw around at the bottom of this seemingly bottomless box. But alas, it was all to no avail.
As I left the Realm of the Lost and Found, I finally, with a deep, relieved breath, ran the hell out of the room as quickly as I could. But just before I left, the Keeper of the Realm said one thing to me, something I remember still:
“Yeah, I know why you had to leave. You could get lice going through that stuff.”
So, as I write this, fearing each moment I want to scratch my head, I imagine myself as a normal, everyday middle-class merchant during the Middle Ages, who makes his way through life well, working hard, and just happens to lose his cloak, and so must go to Ye Olde Loste and Founde. When he gets there, tired, cloakless, and depressed, he must search through old cloaks, spellbooks, bags, and minstrels’ trumpets; and, as he nears the end of his search, to his horror and chagrin, he finds: Thomas Aquinas’s shirt.
I think I’m going to go take a shower now.