I can’t find it and I’ve looked everywhere. When I got out of bed, I went at once to the box in the closet where I keep all important records. It’s a cardboard box full of papers. In case of a fire, it would vanish in a puff of smoke, and I would be stateless. It wasn’t there. I need it today, as I’m going over to the AAA office to sign up for my new driver’s license, and the first thing on their list of things to bring is “your birth certificate,” and I can’t find it. I just can’t find it.

She, who keeps all of her important papers in a metal box inside a metal file cabinet, sometimes misplaces papers, but annoyingly, always finds them 15 seconds later after asking “Where did I put that now?”

It’s like she’s asking this inner voice of hers, the one that always replies within 15 seconds. Then she finds it.

Many times, I’ve suggested that we keep our important papers together, to which she always replies, “In your fireproof cardboard L.L. Bean shoe box? You’re serious?”

I’ve kept things there for many years and when I need them, they’re always there: my discharge papers, medical and dental records, the three color glossy shots of my first colonoscopy. OK, that’s weird, but it was a perfect colonoscopy, and it comforts me to look at it every now and then. So then we begin the usual dialogue that follows after I can’t find something, like car keys, wine opener, cellphone. That happens often, but it’s easy to solve. She calls me on her cell and I follow the ring.

But papers are different, important papers are the most different of all papers, and one’s birth certificate has risen to the most important of all important papers, and we in America know why that is. It’s that Obama thing where every crazy Republican in America went ballistic, first when he was elected, like they thought he was only kidding about being black, and then when they found out he was born in Hawaii. You know the words and music to that old story.

Donald Trump sent a posse of Pinkerton men, or some such group, to Honolulu to get the truth. Unable to find anything other than the truth, they tried to blame him for Pearl Harbor. So here I am without a birth certificate, and my present license is long past being good. I could drive up to Starbucks today and before you can say tall double latte no fat no decaf, a cop would stop and ticket me.

Of course, I can send to St. Louis for a copy, but then the folks at AAA might say, “It’s a copy. We need to see the original proof of birth document, the one you’ve been keeping in that L.L. Bean shoe box.”

I know that sounds ridiculous, but look how ridiculous all that fuss was that the right wing made over Obama? He practically had to fly to Hawaii and scour the nursing homes for the nurse assistant who presided at his birth. And I can tell you, if she turned out to be black and of Kenyan heritage, they would have yelled “conspiracy.”

And what if I suddenly were asked to run for governor in case the current contenders don’t work out? The first thing they’re going to say is, “J.P., don’t forget to bring your birth certificate, not the copy, but the original proof of birth; you know how those Republicans in Augusta are. It’s all about that Obama thing. OK?”

I could tell them what I told the people at AAA over the phone, that I have my baptismal certificate from St. Mary and Joseph Church, the one that says I’m Jeremiah Padraic Devine. They said that’s not good enough. I said but it’s signed by Cardinal Keating and Sister Rosanna. Not good enough.

So I spent the rest of today scouring every nook and cranny and an hour ago, as it grew dark, she asked that inner voice of hers and within 15 seconds asked me, “Didn’t you say, just yesterday, that you were putting it in the glove compartment of the car so you would be ready?”

I’ll bet that whole Obama thing could have been avoided, if only they had looked in the glove compartment of that big black SUV they drive in. I’m just saying.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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