The Case of the Missing Shoes


My mother was one of those people who were constantly late to any and all appointments, meetings, church services, whatever.  Her problem wasn’t that she wanted to keep others waiting or that she wished to annoy people, far from it. Her problem was that she continually lost track of her possessions as well as multitudinous other items.

These lost items could range from misplaced make up and nail polish to birthday presents and car keys. She simply couldn’t remember where she’d left them or used them last.

Naturally, this led to frantic behavior on her part as she searched for missing and misplaced items and rising anxiety and agitation on the part of those who were waiting for her to make an appearance. This later group usually consisted of my dad, my brother and I, who endured what felt like hours of anxious anticipation, usually sitting in our car, watching the minute hand on the clock inch forward.

All of this was but a prelude to the most deeply puzzling case of all. A situation that baffled even the most intuitive detectives among us; The Case of the Missing Shoes!

Here’s the setting: Our family had been invited to a wedding, which was to be followed by a reception. Since weddings are supposed to begin at a certain, clearly defined hour, it was imperative that we leave plenty of time to get there.

The time for departure was nearly upon us when my mother sheepishly admitted that she could not find the shoes she was intending to wear on this auspicious occasion.

She confessed that she had looked high and low for them, with no results. Since the rest of her ensemble was already in place, the proper shoes were mandatory.

Suspicion fell immediately on our dog, Ricky the Ridgeback. After all, when the dog was a puppy, he had chewed through some drywall and eaten the insulation behind it. A pair of women’s shoes would be no match for his appetite. And, in my opinion, he looked a little guilty. But we couldn’t find any telltale clues.

The family searched everywhere and questioned other possible culprits (see diagram). The absolute deadline for our departure was drawing close when I decided that I needed something cold to drink.

I opened the refrigerator, and there, cooling their heels, were the shoes. How they got there, and why they were there remains one of the great, unsolved mysteries of our time. Even the remarkable Mr. Holmes with all his powers of deduction couldn’t have solved this one. And my mother clearly didn’t have a clue.

(Illustration by Phil Laborie)