I used to worry that my house seemed to attract the strangest sort of thieves: dark, shadowy creatures that would creep into my house in the dead of night, only to steal objects that, by all rights, should be completely worthless to anyone but their owners.
Completed homework assignments.
The second page of three pages of sheet music.
A single shoe.
And then I figured it out. While it was true that all of those objects were seemingly unrelated, (as well as being almost completely valueless), they did, in fact, have one very important thing in common: they were all intensely personal. And then I realized what was really going on: whoever was breaking into my house and stealing those things was using them to cast dark spells of tragedy and woe upon their victims, spells such as, “You will now be dooooomed to fail your chemistry test,” or “With this stolen shoe I curse you with perpetual tardiness!” This “dark spell” theory was particularly compelling since the objects that were stolen were only ever stolen when their absence would cause the most suffering: the completed homework, for instance, never disappeared from the backpack the night before it was due, but rather waited to go missing until everyone else was already in the car and waiting for the homework’s owner to make their appearance. (Of course, some would argue that the homework could have, in fact, actually gone missing the night before—that until its owner happened to open the backpack to look for it, the homework was neither lost nor found. Of course, since the moment of discovery never once happened until the owner was already ten minutes late for school, that’s a mystery that will have to remain unsolved.)
For a long time those events didn’t really bother me; sure, there was a dark wizard (or three) creeping about my house at night, but at least he (they) weren’t targeting me. Not really. And then, one day, they started taking things that—while still being essentially valueless to any but their owner—actually did have some kind of monetary value. Which meant that they were now taking things that I had to pay to replace. Suddenly, having dark wizards skulking about the place at night didn’t seem all that benign.
Take, for example, the time they stole the power cord to my daughter’s computer. One day I noticed her making frequent trips to my office to “borrow” my cord, and when I asked her about it she replied that someone had stolen her power cord. (Strangely enough they had left the computer itself alone.)
This was a new (and distressing) twist: only the darkest and most clever of wizards would be able to creep into a room at night and make off with the power cord of a Tumblr addict. What was worse, though, was when we discovered, upon closer inspection, that this particular thief was not only evil, but also very clumsy; he had dropped the power cord less than a foot away from where he had stolen it, and then—probably because he was so embarrassed at his clumsiness—kicked some dirty clothes over the top of it to hide his black deed.
At this point I don’t know which is worse: having a clutch of dark wizards creeping into our house at night, or having a clutch of clumsy dark wizards stumbling about. I hate to say it, but I’m going to have to go with the clumsier of the two being the worst: after all, one day they might be clumsy enough to accidentally turn their dark magic on me and my things.
And that really would be tragic.