Having just spent the past hour unsuccessfully foraging for AA batteries in my parents’ house, I’ve come to learn a lot more about them. Things I don’t think I wanted to know. Nothing tawdry or illicit; simply confusing … and maybe slightly disturbing in a vague sort of way.
While a quest for batteries in my own home will most likely end up unfulfilled, it’s the last thing I expected here. I knew I was up for a challenge – the surface illusion of tidiness in my parents’s home is due to a large-scale proliferation of baskets, cubbies, and drawers brimming with everyday First World detritus, and those batteries could be fucking anywhere – but given my parents’ suburban Costco-fed habits of Bulk Buying, I figured there’d have to be a Duracell goldmine here somewhere. Just which wicker basket or junk drawer is it?
Oh, I was so close. So many near-misses; stashes of lightbulbs, office supplies, tangles of cords here and there, the sorts of items that hint at batteries living nearby, but, alas, they all led me astray. As quickly as I’d hit upon one of these promising finds, it would become clear that the seemingly logical roommate or at least neighbor of the discovered item – that ever-useful AA battery – was puzzlingly absent.
Have the batteries been forced into an unholy union with other, unrelated items, like toilet paper, or, god forbid, clothing? Could my parents be so unhinged as to store the double-As in the linen closet, or the china cabinet? My search clearly would have to encompass the entire house, and involve some creative problem-solving (luckily I am the product of a California public education system considerably pre-No-Child-Left-Behind and can do this). I needed to scour bedrooms, closets, maybe even my stepdad’s workout room. It was time to think like middle class 70-somethings who’ve lived in the same house for 25 years.
Here’s what I did manage to find:
A pile of plastic casters from some piece of furniture-or-other; a number of crates housing mysterious jugs of what I chose to believe were pool-cleaning chemicals; an apocalyptic supply of paper towels and napkins; one Ziploc bag each of pennies, nickels and dimes; loads of my little brother’s crap in clearly-labeled boxes, which I guess is permissible since he’s still under 30; one half- and one almost-full case of Corona and Newcastle, respectively; a small decorative box full of quarters, on a completely different side of the house from the aforementioned Ziploc-encased coins; neatly binder-clipped stacks of bills topped with notes in my stepdad’s handwriting; a healthy collection of what I assume to be fairly good wine; and, inexplicably, a case of baby wipes, among many, many, many other things. And not a single goddamn battery.
So, as I said, confusing, right? What’s with the baby wipes? And why is that change all separated out and stashed in a bathroom drawer? I once had a crazy roommate who would take down stuff I’d hung on the walls, wrap it in towels and hide it in the bathroom cabinets, and the discovery of the Ziplocked change made me think of her and shiver.
Now I can’t even remember why I needed those double-As.