Lost and Found

If you've never heard of it, Found Magazine is one of those rare treats. It's both contemplative and artistic without being boring. The basic premise is to collect discarded items from the street. An irate note left on a windshield. A photo torn in half. A grocery list seemingly written by a schizophrenic. The items are sometimes humorous, sometimes anguished and always interesting. In the spirit of Found, here are some of the roadside (or as you'll see, underwater) oddities I've seen or collected over the years.

Running With Scissors
I was once driving to work early in the morning at maybe 5:30 or 6 am, when I decided to stop at a convenient ATM machine for a quick cash infusion to carry me through the day. As I was walking up to the deserted ATM and digging in my wallet for my card, I casually glanced down a few feet away from the machine. There, in plain view on the sidewalk, was the packing from a pair of scissors. Next to it lay the new scissors, still gleaming and looking hardly used. And, the last item - the one I found most disturbing - was an apparently human brunette ponytail about a foot long with the rubber band still holding it intact. Quite nice hair at that.

I looked around the deserted area. Did some ATM-smashing thief rob the bank and then realize he'd been spotted by the security camera, necessitating a quick change in appearance? If so, this must have been a premeditated act, for where does someone buy a pair of scissors at 6 am in a deserted part of town?

Maybe an anguished garage band star finished his last set at the local bar and had become so disillusioned his lack of success that he cut off his hirsute headbanger badge of honor and symbolically threw it away. Can you throw hair? If he was drunk and upset did he cut himself? There was no blood to let me in on the secret.

Or perhaps a young woman working the night shift and having had a particularly bad hair day decided to end it all right there in front of the ATM. Do split ends cause irrational outbursts? Would some Dippity-Do have helped?

We'll never know.

Swimming With Scissors
As I write this I realize I seem to have a trend emerging with this found scissors thing, but here goes.

As a teenager I grew up on a small lake. Most summers I spent a considerable amount of time swimming and snorkeling in the less than pristine waters looking for a lost treasure that alludes me to this day. On one afternoon snorkel I saw something in the muck and grass a few feet below me. I took a deep breath, swam down a few feet and grabbed the treasure. It didn't feel like gold coins, but what the hell, treasure's treasure. When got the thing back to shore I found myself holding a quite serviceable pair of what I would later recognize as "copy editor's scissors".

For those of you who are age-challenged, newspapers used to be written using actual "copy" - or as we ancients called it, paper. Editing wasn't done with a flick to a keyboard and the transmission of thousands of bytes, it was done by cutting paper apart and pasting it back together in a way the editor felt was vastly superior. I can tell you from personal experience that many writers didn't see it quite that way, but that's another story. Because of the size of the paper, the blades were extra-long, at least 8 inches or more. Great for cutting copy, even better for murder. But again, that's another story.

So what happened with this find? A berserk reporter, driven over the edge by his overzealous editor, can't take it anymore and chucks the symbol of his hatred into the pond? As far as I knew the closest newspaper was about 10 miles away. Any why a lake? In my backyard? And how come someone didn't see this crazed denizen of the Fourth Estate tossing sharp implements into the lake? Was this the origination of the phrase, "we report and you decide"?

I'm sure I'll never know and Rupert Murdoch ain't talking. Well, maybe just a whisper.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, July 13, 2005

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