It was a Thursday, and I was having one of those days.
You know, one of those days when you’re on a furlough and you don’t know what to do with yourself because all you normally do during quarantine before you start work every day is worry about how in the hell you’re going to put out another sports section when no sports are happening.
And it started early. Like, as soon as I went to perform my very first task: feeding the dog. I walked out back, across the deck, down into the yard. I grabbed the dog’s metal bowl, turned and stepped toward the patio stones at the bottom of the steps.
For normal people, this type of frightful maneuver — stepping — would not be so dangerous, would not be even slightly noteworthy and certainly would not constitute a jumping off point for an entire essay.
But if you are like me, and you have sprained both of your ankles so many times that they no longer contain a single intact ligament, well, taking a step onto anything that’s not 100 percent flat and smooth can pose an enormous threat, setting into motion a series of events that might provide material for your next column, which at that point you have zero ideas for because nothing new is happening in your life except that you started drinking every night immediately after work.
Sure enough, though, I did not step directly onto one of those patio stones. I stepped near the edge of one.
And my ankle kinda rolled.
These things happen. My ankles are weak, and that will never change. Similar to our world, they are damaged forever.
But when you have nothing else to occupy your brain for an entire day during Quarantinapalooza, a barely sprained ankle takes on an extremely consuming feeling.
Especially when you gingerly walk up to your bedroom to retrieve your trusty, black Futuro Sport ankle wrap only to realize it’s not in your sock drawer where you store it.
You ask yourself, Where was I the last time I had a sprained ankle? But you can’t answer because one ankle sprain does not distinguish itself from others anymore because you can sprain one by merely stepping.
Did I take off my wrap and leave it somewhere else? Why would I do that?
So you legitimately conclude — even though you have not left this house in four months and certainly haven’t let anyone in this house without a brain-tickling nasal swab — Someone must’ve broken in and stolen my Futuro Sport ankle brace while I wasn’t looking.
You’re livid. And perplexed. And your ankle is throbbing.
And you take every last sock out of your drawer only to see that the wrap is truly not in there. Then, you put them back.
Then, you take all of them out again because maybe you missed it the first time.
But you didn’t.
Then, you check the basket of magazines and shoes and stuff next to your nightstand. But, amid a pile of dated periodicals that includes a 2015 Cosmopolitan with covergirl Cameron Diaz smiling at you, it’s not there.
And you stare at that cover for a moment, because there’s something about her. You wonder, momentarily, where Cameron Diaz has been lately. You remember how smokin’ she was in “The Mask.” Has she ever sprained an ankle? And, on what page is this story about the “Naughty Express”? ...
But then you refocus.
You enter your 10-year-old son’s bedroom. He’d twisted his ankle recently. Maybe he’d snatched your wrap. So you look in his sock drawer because your sock drawer is where you usually put your ankle wrap except when, apparently, you don’t.
It’s not there.
But you notice some items in a sorta-secret compartment behind his sock drawer. And you remind yourself to continue looking there every so often as he gets older even though kids today don’t hide things, they post them online for the world to see.
You head downstairs and start rifling through various drawers. And then you notice the trail of ants that you can’t deter from invading your kitchen no matter how many of them you smash with your angry fists as you think about trying to put out a sports section when no sports are being played. You notice they are marching up a wall, into a cabinet.
You decide to find out what’s drawing them to this cabinet. Furthermore, you consider the notion that maybe they carried off your ankle wrap, in an act of revenge, and hid it in their own secret compartment.
So you take every last item out of that cabinet. You find your son’s Valentine’s candy from first grade in 2017, but no ant Shangri-La — and no ankle wrap.
You are even more flustered, and your ankle aches, but at least this 3-year-old heart-shaped treat is tasty.
Next, you head to the basement storage room, where you keep the suitcases. Maybe your ankle wrap got left in one of those after last year’s trip to the Outer Banks, where you sometimes play basketball and always sprain your ankle.
You think: If I were an ankle wrap, where would I be?
You think: Sock drawer.
And, I’m dead damn serious, you go back up and look again.
And guess damn what!
It’s still not there.
There’s only one drawer you haven’t looked in. Your underwear drawer. Because, why would an ankle wrap be in there?
You open it and brush aside the garments. And on the bottom of the drawer, bingo.
After a two-hour search, your ankle is braced and you have the rest of the day to think about other stuff — but not sports that aren’t happening, because you’re not getting paid that day to think about sports that aren’t happening.
It leads to some conclusions.
Things can get damaged irreparably. Things can get lost when you need them most.
That is what has happened, respectively, to your ankles and wrap.
But on this furlough day, in Month 4 of a sanity-sapping quarantine, you worry that one or the other is also happening to your mind.
Joshua R. Smith is the News-Post sports editor. His column appears once a month.