I've made the same New Year's resolution for each of the 49 years that my beautiful wife and I have been married.

Somehow, I just haven't been able to live up to it, but here goes again: I resolve to instantly know where any item my wife hasn't thought about for months (or years) can be found.

Here's a typical scenario:

My wife: "I want to make my special sour cream coffee cake, but I just can't seem to find the recipe. You threw it out, didn't you? DIDN'T YOU?"

Me (dumbfounded): "Uhhh! I know I saw it in one of your recipe boxes, honey. I swear it was there. Just give me a minute to put my hands on it."

While her frustration continues to build toward Domestic World War III, I can be heard throwing boxes around, opening and closing drawers, flipping through recipe files from 40 years ago, mumbling about how I knew years ago when I stashed it away somewhere that she'd eventually ask for it.

Do I find the recipe?


And the recipe is only one of hundreds of things that have been moved from one spot to another or one file or another. Somewhere deep in my gray matter I really do know where the missing item is, but I just can't put my finger on it immediately. I've done that with passports, important documents, quilting patterns -- the list goes on and on.

I know I can't win. Even if I find the item, it's usually too late and my wife has turned to another recipe or moved on to another challenge.

The sour-cream coffee cake thing really happened ... on Christmas morning, when my wife wanted to bake the cake for friends who had invited us for dinner.

I searched for nearly two hours, and I swear I had seen the recipe when I was unpacking plastic recipe boxes from our recent move. Finally, when I begged for a truce, I said that I thought we'd given our daughter the recipe. I quickly texted her, but it was for naught. She said she didn't have it.

By that time, my wife had given up the whole idea of making the coffee cake and reminded me that we'd have to show up empty handed.

Then it happened. My daughter checked with her boyfriend, who had loved the cake when my wife made it for him. He had the recipe and sent it to our daughter, who quickly emailed it to me that night -- just before my wife was going to call her lawyer.

Another time, we were cobbling together costumes for a '50s dance, and my wife was searching for some bright red pearls. After rifling through two jewelry boxes and finding "nada," she said I probably had moved them or dumped them. She mumbled something like, "Maybe I'm next."

A lot of things we hadn't thought about for years were suddenly top of mind during our recent move. They included lace tablecloths (found those, thank goodness), a specific cookbook (still looking), car keys (also found) and a vegan recipe (it was buried under unread newspapers on a round coffee table now in the great room).

Nevertheless, I try to assess all unlikely areas in the house where keys, wedding rings, watches and other vanishing treasures might have wandered and try to stay one jump ahead of my beautiful sheriff. But she still comes up with zingers about what I have probably stashed away, put away, thrown away or given away to Good Will.

Somehow or other, there's always some off-the-beaten-path card from 10 or 15 years ago, an article I read and put away somewhere or souvenirs from our 2004 trip to the Netherlands -- that she wants right at that moment.

Darn. Why can't it be something simple like the pattern for the first baby quilt she wanted to make. I'm johnny on the spot with that.

I've wondered whether these kinds of find-it-now requests come with the marriage territory, and I've bounced it off a number of friends. They've confirmed that I'm not alone.

I'm just hoping this year's resolution works. I've already made a cheat-sheet for off-the-wall requests.

But I'm sure I'll still be stumped.

Steven Gaynes "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at stevengaynes44@gmail.com.