Recover an Item After a One-Night Stand
It requires a strategy.
One time, a man left his watch on my roommate’s bedside table after a one-night stand. We Googled it the next day to see how much it cost: it wasn’t a Rolex, but it was expensive enough that he’d reverently arranged it the way watchmakers do, with the caseback balanced gently atop the bracelet. She put it in a Ziploc baggie (to contain its dark powers) and waited for him to text her. Days passed. Weeks passed. Almost two months passed. Since their one-night stand, she and I had moved from that apartment, and the watch had moved with her. She felt that it was too expensive to give away or sell, but she didn’t want to reach out to her hookup—he hadn’t texted her at all after the night they met, and she was hurt. The watch haunted her.
You have one week to coordinate its retrieval. If it’s expensive: two weeks.
Then one day she got a text, as though from the grave. It went something like this: “Hey! Hope you’re doing well. Do you still have my watch? I just realized I never picked it up.” The likelihood of the man “just realizing” he didn’t have his watch—a watch which was probably an essential accessory to his hookup ensemble—is slim. I’ve hypothesized that he wanted to wait long enough before reaching out that there was absolutely no chance my roommate would think he wanted to take their relationship beyond their hookup.
I would have gotten rid of it after two weeks. When people refer to “squatters’ rights” they’re usually talking about adverse possession, which basically means that if you’ve occupied a patch of land or a residence over a specified length of time that varies by state, it becomes yours. I believe in a similar, modified finders-keepers rule for personal items left behind after a one-night stand. I think that if you leave something cheap or cheap-ish at someone’s house (a beanie, a part of your Halloween costume, or the miscellaneous stuff that falls out of your pockets when you take your pants off) you have one week to coordinate its retrieval. If you leave something expensive or essential at someone’s house (a wallet, or an heirloom) you have two weeks. Beyond that, it is theirs to dispose of or to keep forever.
But when you’re sure you don’t want a hookup to go anywhere, how do you go about recovering the item without making it weird? For starters…