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I have been licensed to operate a motor vehicle for 17 years and counting, and have been an occasional automobile passenger since, oh... some time after my conception. (Some of you, I would imagine, were inside of a car at the moment of your conception.) In all that time, I have never understood exactly how some people manage to forget where they parked their car.

Somehow or other, this has never happened to me, but it would seem that this problem is rather widespread. I have seen members of my own family (okay, it was my mother) walk out of a shopping mall, civic arena, or large building of some kind and stop upon reaching the edge of the parking lot, pausing for a moment. Then come the words: "Where did I park the car?" As a child, I could always tug at my mother's arm and point, replying, "It's over there, Mom."

How does this happen? I have a few theories:

In observing this behavior over the years, I have noticed that certain individuals who are aware of their predisposition to this phenomenon will employ a variety of tricks to help themselves out when such a situation occurs. The most popular method I have seen is to mark the car in some way that will make it stand out from the sea of vehicles in which it is parked. This is usually done by attaching some brightly colored object to the top of the car's radio antenna.

You have seen these people... maybe you are one of them! I have seen everything from reflective orange ribbons to condoms stuck on top of car antennas. (One time I even saw a severed Barbie head impaled upon an aerial, complete with frizzled blonde hair.)

The all time favorite, however, has to be the day-glo ping pong ball. From what I understand, these are actually sold as automotive accessories - specifically for this purpose. Which explains why I can go by any of the 10 billion Wal-Mart stores in the United States and gaze out upon a sea of happy yellow ping-pong balls gently swaying in the breeze. Which must lead the forgetful driver to remark upon exiting the store, stricken with mild panic:

"Now which ball is mine?"

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