Visit many a retail business and you’ll see camera signs everywhere, “Smile!  We’re watching you!”   These aren’t Allen Funt’s Candid Cameras.   They do catch anything and everything we do when we think no one is watching – many a butt being scratched, the occasional tooth picker (those Wild Wings sure do cram themselves into your nooks and crannies) and at times a “customer” taking advantage of a 5-finger discount.  Yes, security camera videos do show it all.  There is no longer any mystery about how things disappear.  All you have to do is watch the video.

So, we know what happened to our double snail inkwell, we even know where it went.  But being the eternal optimist who believes in the inherent good in all mankind, I prefer the following version starring Stan and Shy-Ann. 

About a century ago, a master inkwell maker searched high and low for just the right snail-shaped globes to use on his latest masterpiece.  His eyes first settled on Stan whose glass was glistening in the sunlight streaming in through the window.  As he brought Stan over to his work table, he spied little Shy-Ann who was nestled back in the corner of a box just beneath the table.  He knew he had found the perfect pair.  Without so much as a how do you do, Stan and Shy-Ann began their life as a couple.  They were present for many an official signing.  They watched as love letters were composed and written with a flourish.  And after World War II, they witnessed the proliferation of the ballpoint pen. 

As the ink in their wells began to run low, no one came to refill them anymore.  The pen resting above them was no longer in demand.  Eventually, Stan, Shy-Anne and the pen were shoved into a box and placed in a dark closet.  

Many decades later, an antique dealer from New York happened upon an estate sale where he found a dusty double snail inkwell and rescued Stan and Shy-Ann.  They were cleaned and polished and once again became cherished members of the family.  But alas, the antique dealer retired “down South” and with a smaller home placed, his collection in Antique Alley in Matthews, North Carolina.  That’s where we found Stan and Shy-Ann, brought them home and placed them on Grandmama’s Singer treadle sewing machine.  I could say, “and we all lived happily after.”  But, that’s not what happened. 

With the house on the market, Stan and Shy-Ann along with all of our other collectibles were bubble-wrapped, stuffed in bins and locked away in an Extra Storage unit in Charleston.  And that is where we went wrong. 

Day after day, Stan bemoaned their situation, blaming it all on Shy-Ann.  If she were just more adventurous, they would have spent all those years traveling the world.  Oh, the sights they would have seen, the places they would have been, the memories they would have made, blah, blah, blah . . . Shy-Ann sat quietly, biding her time.  (If she had had thumbs, she would have been twiddling them.)  When they were moved to our booth in Antiques Market, she had already formulated her plan.

One day, an admiring customer picked up the inkwell and placed it back on the Hoosier just a bit closer to the edge.  Shy-Ann looked over at Stan dipped her head ever so slightly and off the Hoosier they went.  The little red 3-legged chair was the perfect landing spot. 

Stan was amazed, but she wasn’t quite finished.  Inching closer to the edge of the chair, she spied the shotgun shell box and slipped onto that and finally, the Camp Boardwalk wooden box.  From there, the floor was a safe distance.

They found their way, albeit slithering at a snail’s pace, out the door, across the Cooper, the Ashley and into an antique store West of the Ashley.  There they perched on a shelf in a booth but didn’t stay long.  I’m hoping they will tire of their travels and find their way back home one day.  Like the father of the prodigal son, we’ll welcome them back with open arms, no questions asked.