There’s a great episode of The Simpsons wherein Principal Skinner has Superintendent Chalmers over for dinner. The meal Skinner is preparing is somehow set ablaze, and he blames the fiery glow coming from his kitchen on the aurora borealis. Chalmers rebuts, “The aurora borealis? At this time of year, at this time of day, in this part of the country, localized entirely within your kitchen?”
I asked myself a similar question today, when I realized that a breech in the space-time continuum had occurred within the confines of my handbag. In lieu of a purse I carry a medium-sized canvas sack with a shoulder strap. (It’s actually rather cute despite its utilitarian nature.) This sack is home to many, many items, but I am generally able to locate any desired object by sticking my hand in and rifling through for a moment. Today (a day off from work, while running an errand before heading to an exam) I approached my car in a parking lot, began rooting for my keys in my bag, and panicked. My searching fingers could not locate the keys. I removed various items from the bag, opened all the little zippered compartments, and eventually rushed back into the store to retrace my steps. It seemed highly unlikely that the keys could have fallen onto the floor without me noticing, but I had checked the bag thoroughly. While I searched the store (now starting to worry that I would be late for my exam), I hopelessly put my hand back inside the bag and felt around some more.
Suddenly, I felt a shape continuous with the electronic car beeper I keep on my keychain. I tried to remove it from the bag when I realized I was feeling it through the membrane of the bag’s nylon lining. I ran back out of the store and sat down on a bench to assess for tears in the fabric from which my keys had escaped, and through which I could retrieve them. No tears could be found; the lining was intact and the keys had apparently diffused through it and were now trapped beneath it. Fortunately, I carry a well-appointed leatherman tool at all times, so I was able to flick open the blade and make a small incision in the lining through which I performed an emergency keyectomy. Invigorated by my success, I drove off to my exam, perplexed by the implications of this supernatural hassle.