Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Lost Pearl

Pearl It is 1995.

My father and I are outside the hardware store in Idyllwild, a small mountain community in Southern California. He’s sitting in the passenger seat of the truck and I’m standing next to it.

A car pulls in. Sarah Clayton gets out.

One of the good things about living in a small town are the people. Sarah and her husband, Chuck, are the best of the best.

When my father started having problems walking, they came over with a truck full of lumber and built a bridge from the porch to the street to make it easier for my father to get in and out of the house.

I can tell right away she is in distress. She walks over and I ask her if she’s okay. She holds out her left hand. On her ring finger is her engagement ring and wedding band, and another gold band with a stem of metal sticking out.

She has lost the pearl on a ring of great sentimental value. She is retracing her steps from her travels around town this morning. She knows she had it when she left home. We offer our sympathy and wish her good luck. She enters the hardware store.

I am a fan of Sherlock Holmes. I can’t keep deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning straight, but I am generally good at finding things.

I want to find her pearl. Very badly. My brain starts firing.

“You know, that cement they use doesn’t just stop working.”

My father agrees with me.

“So the pearl didn’t just ‘fall off’.”

Again, my father agrees with me.

“I’m thinking she hit it on something. I’m thinking that was most likely in a confined space.”

I’m thinking…

“If that’s correct, it’s most likely to have been a space confined on her left side.”

A picture flashes in my mind.

I look at Sarah’s car. I walk over and stick my head through the open window on the driver side door. I look down.

On the carpet between the seat and the door is the pearl.

I am happy to have found it for her. But the real reason I wanted to find it was my father is impressed.

I’m still eight-years-old inside.

Santa Claus in a Sushi Bar

Santa Claus in a Sushi BarIt is December, 2011. I am in Mission Valley in San Diego, drinking beer with the sushi chef at a Japanese restaurant. I am celebrating a new job. I am celebrating a new life. We toast each other’s health.

I hear the bells on the door. “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

I turn as Santa Claus enters. “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

He waves a white-gloved hand to the room filled with families enjoying teriyaki and sushi. He Ho-Ho-Hos his way into the restaurant. His appearance stops everything.

Santa waves as he walks between the sushi bar and the tables, jauntily swinging a handsome walking stick. I try not to stare but – IT’S SANTA CLAUS IN A SUSHI BAR!

He walks through the entire restaurant. Turns, waves again. He makes his way purposefully to the restroom. Everyone in the restaurant is watching as Santa Claus makes his way to the restroom. TO. THE. RESTROOM. OH. NO.

A white-gloved hand reaches for the door handle. It is what they refer to as a ‘one-holer’. The door is locked. Occupado.

Santa looks surprised, as though unlimited access to restrooms is one of the perks of his job. Then he looks a little nervous. There is no noise in the restaurant. Everyone is watching Santa try not to break into the pee-pee dance.

I wonder about all the children, the psychological scars that are forming. But they are nothing compared to the ones inflicted on the poor boy who unlocks the restroom door to find Santa waiting. The kid realizes he has gone so far past the naughty/nice dichotomy that there is a new category for the train wreck of future Christmas mornings he’ll be facing.

The boy stands in the doorway looking up at Santa. Santa looks at the boy, smiling. Or grimacing. It’s hard to tell from this distance. It’s dark, too. I could be mistaken.

The boy finally steps aside. Santa beams at him. “Merry Christmas!” He steps into the restroom and quickly shuts the door. The boy stares at the space where Santa had been. Then he looks up.

Everyone in the restaurant is staring at him.

He looks like he’s about to cry.