Finding the Hairy Bonnet

I’ve been doing some sleuthing tonight. Recently I received a request to find a story from my Quick-Find a Story page. After spending hours searching, I finally found it.

Normally it takes only a few minutes to find a story. What makes it more challenging is when people mis-remember story elements.

Ah, the human memory!

In case there was any doubt, our memories are not very reliable to begin with. We might remember a story of Retch Sweeney mentioning “a lot of people don’t know blackburries is good to eat,” when it was actually Rancid Crabtree teaching Pat how to live off the land, saying, “Lot’s of folks don’t know wild razzburries is good to eat.” Close, but it makes it a little more challenging to track down the right story.

Another example, the sleuthing I mentioned at the beginning? Here is a brief rundown of key elements in the actual story:

A friend named Lester spends the night with Patrick, sleeping out in the backyard on an old mattress.  Pat had an earache and his grandmother gave him a ratty old bearskin bonnet to wear to keep out the chill. During the night the bonnet gets twisted, and, suffocating and moaning, Pat lunges at Lester for help. Lester levitates.
Since the story is titled “Psychic Powers for Outdoorsmen,” (in the book They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They?) and “levitation” seemed to be a likely keyword, that is one of the ways I had it indexed. I also had it indexed under “sleeping out.”

But that is not how the person remembered the story. The request was worded thus:

“Pat is camping with a childhood friend and his mask slips around to muffle his mouth/face and he claws/moans for help but his friend runs out screaming.”

I finally found the story by looking up “camping,” and the only reason I found it then was because “camping” was mentioned in another part of the story.

Now, I don’t want you to think that I spent the night in frustration. Far from it. Even when I can’t seem to find the story as quickly as I’d like, I always end the search with a smile on my face and sides aching from laughter.