Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I'm almost sorry I solved it

A few weeks ago, the local cable TV company announced plans to upgrade everyone’s service by downloading new software to everyone’s boxes.

Fearing the worst (a not unreasonable strategy to adopt when any company announces plans to “improve” anything), I got on the company’s website and printed out the manual that goes with the new software.

With all these preparations, it only follows naturally that the downloading went off without a hitch and as yet there have been no “issues.”

So I put the manual aside.

And then, yesterday, I began to wonder where it was.

And I couldn’t find it.

I was sure it was around my work area somewhere, so I spent a few minutes looking for it in case I might need it sometime.

It was then that I came across a mysterious receipt.

No company’s name was printed on the receipt. No order number, either. Just the date, last March 26; a scrawled word that I took to mean “Kim”; the initials “NW”; and the abbreviation “Pd.”

Apparently I “Pd” a total of $40 for two items at $20 each.

What were these items?

According to the handwriting, I am now the proud possessor of a “Doll” and an “Oyster.”

Problem is, I didn’t remember buying a “Doll” or an “Oyster.” I have a niece who’s still young enough to play with dolls, but last I heard, she didn’t play with oysters.

Heck, I myself don’t play with oysters. I can’t recall ever eating one. Or seeing one in real life.

Besides, what kind of a place sells dolls and oysters?

And who is “NW”? Nero Wolfe was my first thought, but he’s a fictional character, though he’s so corpulent that he’s probably seen more oysters than anyone has a right to see.

I finally consulted my desk calendar, and the answer came to me.

On March 26 I was attending a film festival run by the local cinephile society, and in the dealer’s room I bought DVDs of two silent films Ernst Lubitsch made while he was still in his native Germany: “The Doll” and “The Oyster Princess.” “Kim” was actually Kino, the company that made the videos.

“NW” must have been the guy who sold them to me.

So the mystery is solved, though the solution is something of a letdown, as sometimes happens with mysteries and magic tricks.

Then again, it’s not as if this was one of life’s bigger mysteries.

Such as, is there a God? Is there life after death?

And what the hell happened to that cable TV manual?

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