Tupperware Love Affair

The dog ate my favorite Tupperware bowl.  Several times a week I reached for it – the biggest one Tupperware made – but it wasn’t there anymore and it hadn’t been there for years.  I had a sense memory of it and kept reaching for an imaginary replacement.  That bowl could do everything.

It was bigger than a breadbox, bigger than any of my cupboards, which is why it lived on top of the fridge.  Then we got our sheepdog, Emily, who destroyed it. She ate my beloved Tupperware Jadeite Fix N Mix Bowl. My fault for putting leftovers on the patio for her in that bowl.  She never outgrew the chewing stage, and how much of a challenge was a plastic bowl when this dog could chew a corner off the house?

I’m not the only person who’s a little bit crazy about my favorite Tupperware.  My mother threatened to make my brother and me sign a contract before we could take home leftovers in one of her prized pieces.

So decades after Emily ate my bowl I still hadn’t replaced it, and one day I spotted a duplicate in a thrift shop.  This one isn’t the greenish color, but it’s identical in every other way.  It’s now on top of my fridge where it belongs and when it’s not working, it holds bags of chips and snacks.

One Christmas, I wanted to get my granddaughter her own giant Tupperware bowl and fill it with cookie cutters, but when I glanced at the catalogs I found they’d changed.  I didn’t wait to see if they were better, I just determined to find an old one.  There they are on ebay under “vintage.”  I bid on one in the original color and I lost, bid and lost, bid and lost, grew weary of the chase and finally gave up and overpaid in a “buy it now” column” and got one of the original Tupperware bowls in a mustard color.

Now my daughter and her daughter have their own behemoth bowl that doesn’t fit into any of the cupboards in their city apartment.  They’ll thank me later. 

Ó Anita Garner 2009

The Saint of Search Engines

My files disappear into my computer with great regularity – even the ones I name myself using such explicit language that I’m certain they’ll pop up when I need them.  Wrong.  Whatever language I used is not the language that comes to mind when I search for them.

I have had this trouble going as far back as the Yellow Pages.  I have never been able to quickly decide what the Official Namer Of The Yellow Pages will call, for instance, car repair.  Oh – I say car – they say auto.  And so on and so on.  My only successful Yellow Pages search was pizza, after they created pages in the “P” section for it. Everything else in that book remains a mystery to this day.

Those were the early days – the days of innocent assumption, believing that my own logic was clear and superior and that I categorize the same way everyone else does.  Today I am stripped of that illusion.  Nothing points out differences in thinking more quickly than a searchable  database.  

Recently I was one of several people looking to find a specific CD holder for children’s music.  This favorite CD holder was shaped like a ladybug.  It went missing.  The young owner of the ladybug was inconsolable – more over the container than its contents.  We tried every store we could think of.  No children’s CD holders in friendly shapes.  We went online.  Meanwhile the child decided she might be even happier with a butterfly-shaped CD holder-replacement. 

I typed in every conceivable description of such an item that I could think of.  I changed the order of the words. I found out during this search that they are often called “CD wallets.”  I added that phrase to my searches and kept looking for one shaped like a butterfly. 

An ebay-friendly acquaintance was puzzled I was having such a problem.  He said everything relies on the way you seek.  Duh.  I already know that.  But evidently I don’t speak Search language.  He said it just comes naturally to him and he let loose a stream of descriptive words in a sequence I would never have thought would work.  Meantime my daughter had also asked a Search Engine Specialist who gave her the words that led to the one and only butterfly CD holder that any of us found. She bought it immediately and happiness is restored.

This experience points out again that my thought process in no way matches the way searches are conducted. It doesn’t even match my own thinking from the previous day. This is not a good outcome for a writer who opens the same files again and again.  I name them when I first create them.  Evidently a gremlin enters my brain’s Center Of Logical Response while I sleep and by the next day I am hunting endlessly.  When I accidently locate a correct folder, it’s now called something I find hard to believe.  Who named this file?  I am forced to reprise the old-school write-it-down method.  I open the file, make changes, then write the name of the file on a piece of paper and attach it to the hard copy of the manuscript in progress.

If I can’t even find my own files, with my own quite specific descriptions, is it a wonder I can’t figure out what to call something I’m trying to buy?  Google tries to help by suggesting that perhaps I might try another word. My friend Catherine tries to help.  She says  ask the saint of lost objects.  She’s not Catholic but she speaks to Saint Anthony frequently and she says he helps every time. 

I need a Saint of Search Engines – one who’ll whisper in my ear “Look here.” and point me to which words to type, which items on the pull-down menu to select.  And while he’s/she’s at it, explain who decided  which letters will comprise an entire text message? 

I don’t even try to think like a search engine anymore.  These days I ask everybody, “What would you call that, online, I mean?”  The correct answer is generally the opposite of what I thought.

So my wish has been granted in a way.   Friends who communicate clearly with search engines are my new Search Engine Saints.

Ó Anita Garner 2009