Wrap & Roll and the Disappearance of Nikki’s Keys
Nikki’s keys were gone.
“I don’t understand,” I said emphatically. “You had them yesterday.”
“I’m aware of that,” she replied. “But somewhere in between being drunk yesterday and sober today, my keys vanished.”
“And you’re going to make me help you look for them, I suppose.”
“No, you’re going to gladly help me look for them because you’re my friend and you also owe me forty dollars,” she said.
Let me explain right now that Nikki does not do things in a small way, she never has. Take a simple thing like losing your keys. The last time she lost them, not only couldn’t she drive anywhere, but she had also locked every door in the car for the first time in her life. This created a problem because she had left her roommate’s dry cleaning in the trunk. And that created a problem because the dry cleaning consisted of every military uniform that he possessed. And that created another problem because he needed to be at the airport in two hours, since he was flying out on an Army mission overseas. And that created yet another problem, because he couldn’t show up in civilian clothes at the Army place because he said they would immediately shoot him in the head or give him a dishonorable discharge, because the Army doesn’t fire people, they just kill them or ruin their lives forever. And we still had yet another problem on our hands, and that was that Nikki was the only ride he had to the airport.
So, because Nikki lost her keys, someone was either going to die or spend the rest of his ruined life working at the only job he could get, which would probably be working at a record store or managing a record store. But the story actually didn’t turn out too sad. After spending seventy-five dollars on a locksmith to get into the trunk, we found Nikki’s keys, leisurely placed right smack on top of an arsenal of khaki-green uniforms.
And if the reconnaissance of Nikki’s keys had a seventy-five-dollar price tag, there was a terrifying chance my forty-dollar loan might get called in, which was bad. Especially since it was most likely being deposited at that very moment in the bank account of our favorite bar.
“Please don’t tell me that you were messing around with the trunk this time, or that your kid is sitting in the backseat with all of the windows rolled up, or that you left something of mine, like my CDs, on the front seat,” I said as beads of worry were rolling down my forehead.
“I knew you’d help me! I just have to change into something yucky so I don’t get dirty,” she said before bounding up the stairs.
Whatever, I thought as I shook my head, and figured I’d get a head start by rifling through the cushions of the couch. I found a lighter right away, which I pocketed. Then I found thirty-seven cents, which I also pocketed, and a hairy LifeSaver that I left for the next couch-cushion bandit.
“Okay, I’m ready,” she said as she came down the stairs, wearing the T-shirt with my caricature and name on the back that was made up during my days at Arizona State University’s State Press Magazine.
“I thought you said you were going to put on something ‘yucky,’ ” I said immediately. “That’s my shirt. It’s got my face on it. And my name. That’s yucky? To you that’s yucky?”
“I didn’t mean yucky yucky, just, you know, yucky,” she answered.
“So I’m not yucky yucky, I’m just plain yucky?” I snapped. “What would make it yucky yucky? Maybe if I had signed it or given it to you as a gift?”
“Yeah. No, I mean, it’s my favorite shirt. I love this shirt,” she explained.
“Well, I’m just sorry that it’s so ‘yucky.’ I should have given you the ones we made out of the silk from those endangered worms.”
She smiled. “Okay, I have to get my stick, and then we can go and look for my keys,” she said.
“What do we need a stick for?” I asked. “We can break the car window with a rock.”
“No, the stick isn’t to break the window, it’s to poke at the trash.”
“We’re poking at trash? Why are we poking at trash?” I asked.
“I think my keys are in the bottom of the trash bag that I took out yesterday.”
“Let me get this straight: So you’re wearing my shirt while we dig through other people’s waste?”
“Right. See, if I thought it was yucky yucky, I’d wear it if the toilet overflowed.”
Nikki found the stick—actually a broom handle—and we journeyed to the Dumpster, which is about as big as my house and smells worse. We climbed up the side and looked down into it, down into all of Nikki’s trash as well as the trash of forty of her neighbors. That day, it was 114 degrees out, and the stench of the garbage was visible in stink lines that waved before my face in wiggly patterns, like in cartoons. Nikki started stabbing the trash with the stick, trying to find her own bag that was conveniently located at the very bottom.
Things were flying and falling everywhere—kitty litter and kitty turds, rotten vegetables and old food, used Kleenexes, and lots of dead things. Everybody in Nikki’s complex is on birth control pills, I found out. All of a sudden, a bag Nikki had poked broke open, and then this little white thing rolled right in the center of my visual zone.
“AAAAAAAAAAAAHH!” I screamed.
“What?” Nikki asked as she started to turn toward me.
“Don’t look!” I said as I blocked her view, knowing that she has a weak stomach and gets queasy when I talk about picking noses or when I mention anything whatsoever about poo, so I knew she would get sick if she saw what I saw, which was a white, naked, and, at some point, used tampon applicator.
Jesus, I thought to whomever it had belonged to, didn’t your mother ever teach you about those things? I mean, Christ Almighty, as soon as my mother suspected that my ovaries were beginning to percolate, she sat me down in the only private room in the house—which was her bathroom—broke out a roll of toilet paper and a maxi pad, and taught me how to wrap & roll. Three wraps over the middle and three wraps over the side. Roll & wrap, it’s the polite thing. Even I could figure it out at the age of eight. And, for added protection, you could stick God’s little bundle in a plastic baggie, so when the dogs got loose in the house they wouldn’t find it and tear it apart, as our dogs, Ginger and Brandy, loved to do. Immediately following the hands-on demonstration, I got the “Not-So-Fresh-Feeling” speech, after which I ran to my room and sobbed for an hour because Barbie didn’t have an outfit that came with a tiny maxi pad, tampon, or Summer’s Eve.
Well, we found Nikki’s trash bag, but, of course, the keys weren’t in it. In fact, as of this moment, Nikki lost her keys three weeks ago, and we still haven’t found them. Who knows where they are?
Maybe, somehow, in the weird way that things work in Nikki’s World, maybe someone wrapped Nikki’s keys three times over the middle and three times over the side, and some hungry dog just ate them.
Excerpted from The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro. Copyright © 2002 by Laurie Notaro. Excerpted by permission of Villard, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.