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The ins and outs of leaving home

It probably won't be in Guinness, but we set a record last week. We pulled out of the driveway on our first trip out of the house.

We often back out of the garage and park in the driveway for a minute or two, maybe three or four, or sometimes even half a day, because one of us has forgotten something inside the house and needs to make a trip back in.

Coupons. The coffeemaker still turned on. The list.

On particularly bad days we have been known to make as many as four trips back inside. Each. We save those special occasions for predawn trips out of town when the husband can also alert the neighbors to our ineptness by accidentally setting off the car's panic alarm on the key fob.

One day we were both opening and shutting car doors, making numerous trips back inside for additional items that kept springing to mind and we passed each other in the front hall. We agreed if we each made another trip in, we would meet in the kitchen, because it then would be time for lunch.

We appear organized and we think we are organized, but we can never seem to leave home without at least one mad dash back inside.

Do you have the library books? No, I thought you had the library books.

Was the toilet still running? What? The toilet was running?

And so it goes -- check the back door, retrieve a bottled water, sunglasses, a jacket, bills to drop off at the corner mailbox.

On occasion we rattle off a list of things each other might have forgotten. That may sound considerate, but often the tone is not so much helpful as it is intensely competitive.

Him: Reading glasses?

Me: Always. Cell phone?

Him: Absolutely. Umbrella?

Me: Of course. Bank deposit slip?

I can tell from his face that he has forgotten it and yell, "Gotcha!" instantly scoring 25 points and securing me a spot in the bonus round.

If there is an item we have both forgotten and it is of mutual benefit, the question is who has to go back inside. The rules of return are that if the driver has car keys in the ignition and the car is running, the return trip defaults to the passenger. If, however, the passenger is cradling a hot coffee, the rules for return are open to discussion.

Sure, we have had efficient days when it looks like we're making a clean break the first time out of the house, but then we reach the stop sign at the end of the block and nearly always discover we have forgotten something. People thought it was spectacular several seasons ago when Jack Bauer did a getaway chase in reverse on "24." Please. He learned it from us.

Sometimes we leave the neighborhood and get all the way to a nearby busy intersection before we realize what we have forgotten, necessitating another return home. On those occasions the husband will drive back home and back the car into the driveway, making it look like we are positioned for a speedy getaway.

Believe me, it will never happen.

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