Saturday, January 14, 2017

Not Murphy's Law, but Rhys's Law

I have a character named Molly Murphy so naturally I am well aware of Murphy’s Law. I’m not sure of the exact definition or even where it came from. Something like “If something can go wrong, it will.”
Today I’m sharing Rhys’s law. Not quite as dire but perplexing.  If something can be bloody annoying it will.
This topic came to me when I was getting ready for a party over the holidays. I wanted to wear a particular necklace.  I had left several chains in the jewelry case and not touched or moved them since. When I pulled them out they were hopelessly tangled together. How can that happen? Do pieces of jewelry get up to high jinks when I’m not looking? Do I need to install a CCTV camera into my jewelry box? And worse still, how can an individual chain, lying all alone, manage to tie itself into an impossible knot? Inquiring minds want to know! Has this ever happened to you?
So Rhys’s law says “If you need to put on a necklace at the last minute the chain will be impossibly tangled in other chains.”
More items of Rhys’s law:
If ever I am sent flowers it’s always a day before I’m due to travel somewhere. Does anybody send me flowers when I am home for a month to enjoy them? No (except for the time when I had broken my pelvis, but I wouldn’t want to go through that again!) So I usually have to hand over a lovely bouquet to a relative or friend when I take off.
And speaking of travel: why do we always hit turbulence when I’m about to sip coffee? Usually I have brought the cup up to my lips when there is a large bump. And usually I am wearing a white shirt at the time. Why do I only spill food down my front when I’m wearing light clothing? If I were head to toe in black I’d never spill a thing—except powdered sugar from a donut.  At least I’ve now learned to take an extra light shirt with me when I travel. And a Tide stain removing stick!
And why does the toast always fall jelly-side down if I drop it? And when I decide to take a long soak in the tub why does the phone decide to ring?
All minor annoyances I suppose. Nothing really to complain about.

 How about you? What is your version of Rhys’s law?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, gosh don't get me started.
 Why is there is always just one egg left?
Why does the battery die just as you really need the phone/mouse/toothbrush?
Why does the person call EXACTLY when you sit down to dinner?
When the lights go out, why is the flashlight always where you are not?
As a corollary, why is the umbrella always in the car--or not--depending on where you are when you need it?
Why is the driver in front of you ALSO looking for a parking place--and there is just one left?

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: The book you want to read is out at the library. When you break down and buy it (in hardcover,) the next day you'll find the library now has two copies on the shelf.

Within a week of hauling something up to the attic or stowing it in the cellar, you will need that item. It will be in a box, underneath two other boxes.

I have a necklace related one as well, Rhys: the necklace that perfectly matches your outfit will have something scratchy on the clasp, which you will only find out after you've already left the house. Collary: Your blouse will have an annoying tag that only touches your skin when you turn your head to the left, and you will spend the day scratching at odd moments.

HALLIE EPHRON: This is fun.

When you're in a rush, why does the light always turn red?
Why is the spot in the back of my head where my hair looks weird located where I cannot see it in the mirror?
Why does the bookmark fall out when I drop the book?
Why does my screen freeze up when I've been working for an hour without saving?
Why does my grandbaby's diaper need changing minutes after I change it?
Why do airfares go down the moment after I book my flight?


Why does your prescription run out two days into the trip?
Why does the GPS quit when you're driving in a foreign country, but work perfectly in your own state?
Why can't you find the one item in your suitcase you really need, and you have to unpack the whole thing?  (Not that this happened this week or anything!)
Why does my computer problem get fixed the moment my software developer husband walks into the room?  He doesn't even have to touch the machine!
Why does the DVR recording cut out two seconds before the reveal on "Love It or List It"?

RHYS: Oh and Ingrid, speaking of computers why does the start screen say "Installing update 1 of 14,720" when I'm in a panic to send off an email?

Why does the good song come on the radio after I’ve reached my destination?
Why does the plot point that’s been scratching at my subconscious only become clear
after I send my manuscript to my editor?
Where do the missing socks go? I really want to know!
Why does the waitress ask me how my food is right when I’ve taken a bite?
Why do we always have a heatwave right after I’ve packed my summer clothes away?

RHYS: Oh yes. Socks! John is always having a minor meltdown because I've lost one of his socks in the dryer. What do the washer and dryer do with socks? I'm always afraid the plumber will be called one day to a massive blockage caused by thousands of socks.

So now it's up to you: time to vent your own annoying frustrations.
I should add that we all know how lucky we are that the worst thing in our lives is a tangled piece of jewelry or a missing sock. Next time things like this happen I'm going to try and remind myself that at this moment people are living on the streets, fleeing from conflict or about to undergo major surgery. 

And Deanna Raybourn has let me know that she has picked Karen in Ohio to receive a signed copy of her book. So Karen, email me and I'll put you in touch with Deanna. Congratulations!


  1. Yes, Rhys, we are so lucky, but I am chuckling over some of these . . . and while I have no answer about the tangled necklaces, the children’s socks stopped disappearing the moment we replaced the washer with a front-loading machine. I guess the agitator in the other machine was the culprit gobbling up all those socks . . . .

    Why, when I am hunting for something, does it elude me even though I know I saw it just the other day [when I didn’t need it]?
    Why does my pencil point break right in the middle of writing down the number the voice on the other end of the phone is dictating to me at warp speed?
    Why does my pen always run out of ink in the middle of whatever I am writing on the fancy card I wanted to mail to a friend?
    Why does the phone always ring when I am up to my elbows in bread dough?
    Why does my Nook battery always need recharging twenty minutes after the plane takes off?
    Why does the check-out line I’m standing in always move slower than the line I didn’t choose?

  2. Rhys, this is fun, and many of these are so true, with the missing sock being #1 for me!

    Why are my house keys hiding, forcing me to frantically search for them when I am already running late?
    Why does my bus show up early and I miss catching it when it is sub zero (either F or C!) outside?
    Why do I run out of quarters at home when I need to do the laundry?
    Why do they decide to open another check-out line after you have been waiting so long and are now #2 in line?

  3. I love these! As someone about to undergo surgery (is a knee replacement major? It's not a heart transplant or anything, but still), here's one:

    Why do you get in developmental edits/copy edits/page proofs with a short-turnaround deadline when you're happily deep into first draft on an entirely different book (and series)? And by the time you get them done it's time for the surgery?

    Why, when you just received your thousand new bookmarks, do you have zero in your purse when you meet someone who says, Ooh, I love mysteries!

    Why does my phone count steps when all I'm doing is swinging my arm back and forth? (Okay, not a conundrum but still a question.)

    Why is the one book I didn't realize I was out of the one everybody at the library event wants to buy?

  4. Oh Joan, the Nook battery is an emergency!

    And Grace, the supermarket is the scene of many instances of Rhys's law, isn't it? I had one this week--why were they out of zucchini on the one day I had a new recipe to try where that was the main ingredient?

    Edith, we send all our good wishes for the new knee!! xoxo

  5. Edith - That is a conundrum regarding your phone. That makes me think, why do I forget to clip on my Fitbit before I take a long walk? I know my body still gets the credit, but I want the app to give me credit too!

    Joan and Grace - the checkout line situation can be quite vexing!

  6. True story: I have a dear friend whose dryer caught fire. It was... you guessed it, socks. Stuck somewhere in its inner workings.

    And, analog to Jenn's point:
    Why does the plot point that’s been scratching at my subconscious only become clear when I'm taking a bath or driving or frying chicken... when I can't possibly write it down.

  7. I have a solution for the sock problem: safety pin pairs together before you throw them in the laundry basket. I haven't lost any socks in the dryer since I started doing this!

    My addition to Rhys's list: why is when I put something someplace safe, I can never remember where that safe place is? I always find the thing when I'm looking for something else!

  8. Oh, yes, the dreaded "safe place". I'm still searching for things I put in a safe place years ago.

    Invariably, on days when I'm up and down stairs over a dozen times, and taking long walks, etc., I'll discover my Fitbit in my robe pocket that night.

    After raising three daughters in this house with a septic system we have to maintain, we found out exactly where the socks go: down the drain, especially the little tiny ones the girls wore. Once Steve found a big tangled mess on the paddle arm of the motor in our system. Luckily, he was able to fix it. And like Joan, I have not lost a single sock since we switched to a front loading washer about twelve years ago.

    I had another to add, but have forgotten what it was. Why does that always happen? As soon as I hit "publish" I'll remember.

    Thanks for Deanna's book! I'm so excited, and have sent a note to your author email, Rhys. Because your other email is on the old computer I just replaced. Why couldn't I transfer my old address book?

  9. Ann in Rochester, another nasty womanJanuary 14, 2017 at 9:31 AM

    Edith, major surgery and minor surgery are defined by the type of anesthesia, general or regional, or at least it was when Florence and I were in practice. Good luck on the TKR. You will love the results.

    Why is it I can sit in a perfectly clean and tidy house for hours, but the moment someone drops by, I drop an entire vacuum cleaner bag of dirt and animal hair in the middle of the living room floor?

    Why is it I can always find a good parking place in sunny weather but never in bad? Don't people have enough sense to stay home when it's raining?

    Why is it Toby the Pomapoo can sleep on the couch all day, but the moment we sit down to dinner, he is desperate to go potty outside?

    How does Roberta/Lucy keep looking younger every year? Happy Birthday!

  10. How about… just as I open my mouth to say something to Jonathan in the car, why does the GPS start talking at exactly the same time?

  11. Oh, and I know the answer about the missing socks. They turn into white wire coat hangers.

  12. Front-loading, huh? I'll remember that. Here's a little mystery I've never been able to solve--two-volume set of a author's account of his travels in the Yucatan. Moving into new house, only one volume can be found--all the boxes unpacked, no volume two. Years later, moving into another house--volume one AND two on the shelf. Why can I never find stuff I lose, only to have it turn up like this???

  13. Oh Edith, the one about the rewrites is happening to me right now. I'm deep in the middle of Tuscany and have to go back to Molly Murphy! And best of luck with your knee surgery!

    And FChurch, every time we've moved there has been something important missing. Even when I've packed boxes myself.

  14. In regards to why a song comes on after you reach your destination, that always seems to happen to me when Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven" starts playing on the car radio. Really annoys the heck out of me.

  15. Why did my CD player stop working in time for me to NOT be able to listen to my Christmas music, and start working again last week? (On the positive side, procrastination worked in my favor this time, as I never got around to replacing it.)

    Deb Romano

  16. Oh, somehow I got overwritten again, or something. Not my week for comments on the blog!!!

    Why does the dishwasher wait to die until it's completely loaded at the end of a dinner party?
    Why do the freezer quit, the pipes burst, and the heat go out on Christmas?
    Why do you start a recipe before you realize you don't have quite enough of one necessary ingredient?
    Why do the dogs and cats always get sick at 12:01 pm on Saturday, when the vet has just closed?
    Why can't I find my shoes, one minute before the news crew is scheduled to show up on my doorstep? And why does the cat pick that exact moment to barf on the dining room table?

    Happy birthday, Roberta, and I agree you look younger every year!!!

  17. Sadly, why does the stock investment price always go up immediately after my sell order is executed?

    Why does the cat always have to use her box immediately before guests arrive?

    Why do major appliances fail within three days of a major holiday? Corollary:
    Why do drains become blocked on the Friday before a weekend or holiday?

  18. Why does the driver in front of me decide to drive 20 mph slower than the limit, until I switch to another lane? Then the first slow driver speeds up, but the new guy in front of me slows down.
    Why does the indoor cat bolt out the front door just as I'm leaving, late for work?

    And yes, Cathy Akers, I have come to believe that calling something a "safe, logical place" immediately opens up a tiny black hole in the universe, so whatever you put in there can never be found again. What goes in never comes out.

  19. Oh Debs and Priscilla, I know all about appliances dying over the holiday. Last year my dishwasher died and flooded the kitchen on the morning that 15 people were coming to lunch at my house!
    (And Debs, sorry you got overwritten. It's been a bad week for annoyances. My son said something about Mercury being in the wrong place!

  20. Mercury is retrograde! I knew that must be it! :-)

  21. I thought Mercury just came out of retrograde.

    When my kids were still young the only times they ever spiked fevers or got hurt badly was either late at night or over a holiday. Our pediatricians nearly always had to call me back at 1 AM.

  22. Why do I think of the perfect word to have used in a conversation after the conversation is over?
    Why do I finally find a great dress to wear to something and it's in every size but mine?
    Why does someone call right at the end of a television program where all is revealed? (And it's a call you need to take.)
    Why is it that I have a plethora of ink pens, but I can never find one when I need one?
    Why do I decide to fix something to eat and have everything but one item I need? (Oh, I see you already listed this one, Debs.)
    Why does Netflix decide to do a continuous loading loop in the middle of a show you're watching?

  23. These are all so true. Why does a family member call when I am frantically trying to get ready to leave the house. Ditto when I am cooking. How is it that the leftover whatever that sounds good to eat for lunch has mysteriously disappeared when I am ready for it? When I put my name down for several books at the library why do they all come at once? That is an embarrassment of riches.

  24. Cathy said:
    "I have a solution for the sock problem: safety pin pairs together before you throw them in the laundry basket. I haven't lost any socks in the dryer since I started doing this!"

    Actually, you may have lost them both. At least they're keeping each other company in limbo.
    Apparently, the amount of time between when you finally get rid of something, and when you realise you have a use for it is inversely proportionate to the length of time you held onto it all those years.

    However, having said that, a miracle occurred last week. I had finally finally decided I would never ever wear those old long-sleeved jerseys in my closet, and actually had them in the bag for pick-up at the front door for the next morning, when out of the blue, I found myself wondering where I could find something comfy with long sleeves to wear as a pyjama top. What a narrow squeak that was!

  25. Oh, yes, yes, the appliances breaking just before a holiday or a party! DEFINITELY!

  26. Annoyances
    --When I turn my camera on and it tells me the memory card is missing or the battery is dead, and both are miles away
    --When I can't find something because I put it away where it belongs

    --When I stick my hand into a stack of papers and pull out the right one because I somehow know its exact location, such as 3/4 of the way down

    Evidence of Magnanimity and Impressive Moral Fiber
    --When the person who asked for the paper looks shocked and I refrain from saying, "Ha ha ha, you didn't think I could find it but I did, so there."