Because real life offers us a treasure trove of writing ideas…

I was first alerted to this mystery one day in spring when my son tweeted something about our spoons disappearing. We had all been taking turns doing dishes throughout the week and my wife and I laughed when we read it thinking my son was just being funny about a chore he loves so much. Like I often do with many of the funny things my kids say, I jotted it down in my notebook. Nothing wasted.

As the past few months have sped by at an incredible pace, our weekly chores have remained the same. Throughout my dishwashing rotation, I have noticed something: the spoons are disappearing. Spoons! Are you fricken kidding me?

I can understand socks disappearing. We’ve lost many. Two socks enter the washer, one sock leaves the dryer. I’ve never investigated the handoff between the washer and dryer because I have solved this mystery after a little bit of research along with a visit to a chat room hosted by a whistle-blower from an unnamed sock company. Greed within the textile industry is the driver here. More specifically: a secret collaboration between sock manufacturers and cotton growers. They’ve developed a GMO cotton that once part of a fabric, dissolves after so many cycles of washing and drying. It has something to do with the way biodegradable surfactants (just the anionic type) in common laundry detergent mixes with water, coats itself to the suspect sock, and then dissolves the sock once heat is applied to it in the dryer after some magic number of cycles. And where does the dissolved sock end up? Check your lint trap.

You’re probably wondering why only one sock ends up missing. Because only one sock is made from the GMO cotton. If they did this to both socks, we would become suspicious. We’ve just accepted the fact that one sock will eventually go missing and the sock manufacturers know it. This is limited to only cotton socks. I have wool socks I’ve had for years and have never lost one. Besides, the wool industry is a bit more reputable. I would explain this conspiracy to my wife but she would think I’ve gone off the deep end. She still has her “bag” of socks without partners… waiting, as though the lost sock will return someday. That bag continues to grow.


OK, back to the spoons. We have three sets of silverware in our Rubbermaid silverware holder. Since we have more knives than anything else, I counted the knives and it appears we bought two sets that serve 4 and one set that serves 6. 4+4+6=14? We have all 14 knives that match their unique sets, and 4 mystery knives. These sets, whether a 20 piece set or 30 piece set contain the following: two spoon sizes, two fork sizes, and one knive. What does this mean? It means we should have 14 small spoons, 14 large spoons, 14 small forks, and 14 larger forks (OK, for you uptown culinary types, that’s teaspoons, dinner spoons, salad forks, etc. etc). You get the picture.

Evidently I am not in tune with what we have or don’t have as of late. Maybe it’s because at any given time, some silverware will be in the drawer and some in the dish drainer (yes I know these sets are really stainless and called flatware… well at least at Walmart). With all the dishes, silverware, and utensils clean and put away, I went to get a spoon this morning to stir in my cream for coffee and it finally hit me. We are missing spoons. We have 5 teaspoons and 7 dinner spoons. That’s 12 spoons when there should be 28 (14 + 14 for the mathematically challenged). 16 spoons are missing! I’ve searched the usual hangouts such as the kids’ rooms, lunch pails, cars, trucks, other drawers, etc. and no spoons. Where are the damn spoons?

I would bet that some of you reading this now fancy yourself a sleuth. Maybe you are a mystery writer or watch too much CSI. You might even be trying to solve this mystery with your newfound knowledge of why our socks disappear. Why spoons? Is their unique curved shape susceptible to foul play? Maybe, just maybe, the silverware companies have conspired with dishwasher manufacturers to melt the spoons. I’m an engineer and work with metals on a daily basis, it’s not possible. The melting point for certain grades of stainless steel is 1325 degrees Celsius at the lowest. This is magnetic so most likely a 400 series stainless and it melts at an even higher temperature. This is not happening in a dishwasher.

So maybe, just maybe, the silverware companies have conspired with dishwasher detergent companies to have some wonderful chemical reaction with only unique curved shape stainless steel that magically melts it during the hot water wash cycle then the melted stainless is reduced to some liquid that rinses away. I’m not a chemist so I couldn’t argue that one way or the other but it just sounds plain stupid. Besides, our dishwasher has been broken for a year, hence, a non-factor. I am the dishwasher. So is my wife and so are my kids. The spoons are not dissolving.


So what’s left? Are we accidentally throwing away silverware? Are we a victim of spoon thieves? Do I buy a metal detector and scan everyone leaving our kitchen? Why isn’t someone taking the steak knives, or paring knife, or Ginsu knife, or spatula or my collection of chopsticks? Why just the damn spoons I ask?

Is this mystery destined for the cold case files? I think so. I’m stumped and have wasted too much time on this nonsense already today.

I have a better solution. I want a reset. I think I will venture over to Walmart, buy two or three brand new 20 piece sets, identical sets, and bag up our existing silverware and drop if off at Salvation Army. Maybe with the bag of partner-less socks.

Until next time…