Excerpt from “Memoirs of The Car Keys: An Unexpected Journey”

As Kristi Bader’s car keys, I have to be ready for anything. Most car keys spend most of their time crammed into dark, sticky pockets or purses with the usual crumpled gum wrappers, capless chapsticks, and broken hair clips. Not me. On any given day, you might find me in a rest stop bathroom off the New Jersey turnpike, on a shelf in the Housewares Department in Target, or even on the lam in Southeast DC with a joy-riding teenager. But my most recent adventure was my wildest yet. It all began on a sunny Friday morning at Boston Logan airport….

June 30th, 2014

It was ten AM, and we were walking to the gate to check Danny in for his flight back to DC. Well, Kristi was walking, I was swinging precariously from her index finger, when she stopped abruptly (I almost went flying!) and began rummaging through her purse, muttering about her cell phone.

Soon, we were running through the airport, out into the bright sunlight of the parking lot, and back to the car.
With a sigh of relief, Kristi quickly located the cell phone, which in another desperate bid for freedom had slipped into the crevice between the passenger seat and the console. It is said that this crevice marks a portal to another dimension, and the cell phone is ceaseless in its attempts to escape through it. But that’s another story.

Cell phone safely in hand, Kristi surveyed the thigh-high ocean of crap in the cabin of the minivan thoughtfully. She unearthed an empty bag with “Rehoboth Beach” stitched on the side, brushed off the crushed pretzels and stale raisins stuck to it, and filled it with selected items: a small bag of Pirate’s Booty, a half-full bottle of water, a dog-eared copy of “Football Nightmare,” by Mike Lupica and a partially squished pack of gum. She then shut the door and began the painstaking car-locking process.

Kristi is a Serial Button Pusher. If pressing a button once will lock the car, then pressing it repeatedly must really, really lock the car, she reasons (or so I imagine). Unfortunately, her husband insisted on procuring a remote-start option that is linked to the “lock” button. Pressing the button once will lock it. Pressing it twice will lock it even better (or so Kristi thinks.) Pressing it three times will start the engine. Pressing it four times will…actually, I don’t know. In any case, I lost track of how many times she pressed the “lock” button that day. Several trips back to the car (to turn off the engine) later, Operation Car Lock was a success, and she tossed me in the Rehoboth Beach bag over her shoulder and headed back into the airport.

At first, I wasn’t worried. As far as I was concerned, being in any bag- purse, shoulder bag, beer cooler- lowered the risk that I would get left next to the Mentos and Tic Tacs in the checkout line at the airport store. So, I relaxed in my new digs next to the Pirate Booty as she checked Danny in and waited at the gate, listening to him peppering her with endless questions about flight safety, (What’s a terrorist? How does the plane stay up in the air?) requests for snacks (Can I have Cheetos? How about Doritos? Can I have anything from the “OHs” family? ) and pithy observations about fellow travelers (Hey mom! Look at that fat guy!).

Finally, they said their goodbyes, and Danny was off. A while later, I heard a noise that sounded like a jet engine, and I had the strange sensation of rising into the air.  It was then I realized that Danny took the Rehoboth Beach bag, and I was on the plane!  
There was really nothing to be done at that point but relax, enjoy the flight, and reflect on the strange turn the day had taken. I had flown before, sure, but always on purpose. I was pretty sure that Kristi didn’t mean to send me on the plane- how would she get back into the car, in which her electronic devices, snacks, and other belongings were stored? How would she get back to the Cape? Was she planning on living at the airport?

As I pondered these questions, I soon became aware that the plane was landing. Soon after we got off the plane, I heard Eric’s voice, and Danny’s big paw reached in and lifted me out of the bag and dangled me in the air. There were loud exclamations, followed by protestations from Danny (“Those are swears, Daddy! You’re not supposed to say them!) and the flash of a camera phone, and then I was shoved in someone’s pocket.

The next few hours consisted of expletive-laced tirades about irresponsible wives, lacrosse tournaments, and mouth-breathing airline employees who really were earning their $7.50 an hour. It was quite traumatic. Finally, I was released from my prison only to be shoved into a large box. Later, I felt the strange sensation of rising into the air, and heard the loud noise of jet engines…another trip through the skies! This time, I made the pilgrimage unaccompanied, like the veteran traveler I had become. A few hours later, there was a ripping sound and a shriek of delight as Kristi grabbed me and waved me around triumphantly for all the apathetic airline employees to see.
Soon, I was reunited with my minivan, and resting in my usual cup holder as Kristi bolted down route 3 towards the Cape in a caffeine induced frenzy, yelling Katy Perry lyrics out the window to the darkening evening sky.

It felt good to be home.




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Currently residing in Sandwich, Massachusetts, Kristi is an aspiring writer and mother who spends most of her time ferrying her children to various sports practices and doctor appointments. She also substitute teaches and reads romantic fantasies by the bushel.

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