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Nostalgia June 2018

Cleaning out the Junk Drawer Can Be Scary

By Sally Ann Breslin

I leafed through a stack of coupons that were so old, they included 25 cents off on a typewriter ribbon and 50 cents off on Purina cat chow. The last time I owned a cat, I was wearing a mini-skirt and go-go boots.

I did something the other night that I’ve done only three times before in my life, mainly because I have a phobia associated with it. I’m talking about cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen.

My phobia stems from the fact that during my past junk-drawer explorations, I have found some pretty frightening things, like the sticky lint-roller that had so many paper clips, threads, thumbtacks, pieces of wire and buttons adhered to it, it resembled some sort of Medieval torture device.

This time, however, the drawer was more puzzling than frightening. Too often, I found myself scratching my head and muttering, “What the heck is this?” or “Why on earth did I keep this?”

For example, I found a loose CD that had so many scratches on it, it looked as if a cat had attacked it. And when I put it into my CD player so I could hear what was on it, it skipped so much, the singer sounded like someone being jabbed with a cattle prod.

I also found a key ring with about 10 keys on it. I knew in an instant they weren’t my keys because I never use key rings. I keep my keys loose so I can shove them into my pocket, my change purse, even into my shoe…which probably explains why I lose about 200 keys a year. I’ve had so many replacement keys made, the minute the guys at the local hardware store see me walk in, they head straight for the key-making machine.

Then there were four pairs of eyeglasses in such hideous styles, I couldn’t believe I ever wore them. One pair had bright-pink lenses that were so huge, when I tried them on, the only thing visible was my chin. Another pair looked like something Granny Clampett wore on “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

I leafed through a stack of coupons that were so old, they included 25 cents off on a typewriter ribbon and 50 cents off on Purina cat chow. The last time I owned a cat, I was wearing a mini-skirt and go-go boots.

There was a tube of cement that had leaked and was solidly attached to a deck of playing cards that had pictures of U.S. presidents on the backs. When I tore off the tube, I also ripped off Lincoln’s beard. But it really didn’t matter because there were only 44 cards in the deck anyway.

I found countless doodads and doohickeys my husband had put in there at some point. He had a habit of ordering every tool and gadget advertised on TV. Then when one would arrive, he’d put it away and say, “This will come in handy someday.” But “someday” never arrived for the majority of his stuff. I guess that’s because there never arose an occasion when he needed a hammer onto which nails magnetically attached themselves, or a battery-operated laser tool that projected a straight line on the wall for accurate picture hanging.

I remember the time I wanted to toss out a package of house fuses I found in the drawer. I made the mistake of asking my husband if it was okay.

Had I told him I’d just found a stack of $100 bills I wanted to shove into the paper shredder, he couldn’t have looked more appalled (note: if I ever really did find a stack of $100 bills in a drawer, it would mean I was in someone else’s house).
    “No! Don’t throw out those fuses!” he’d said. “You never know when they might come in handy!”

“But we haven’t used fuses since back in the 1970s, and we have circuit breakers now.”

“They’re still brand new and in the package,” he’d argued. “You should never toss out anything that’s new, no matter what it is.”

“Then I should keep this still-sealed pack of cigarettes I found tucked in the back of the drawer?” I asked.

My husband had quit smoking about 10 years earlier.

“Darn!” I heard him mutter under his breath. “So that’s where I hid them!”

But with the most recent cleaning of the junk drawer, I felt less obligated to keep things, even if they were new, now that my husband is gone. So I tossed out an assortment of door hinges, screws, nuts, bolts and cabinet pulls.

With my luck, one day something in the house will break down and the repairman will say, “You’re out of luck. It needs a Rickenhoffer size 12.390 screw that’s been extinct for years – so you’re going to have to buy a whole new (insert any expensive appliance here).”

And the screw will just happen to be one of the ones I just trashed.

 

Sally Breslin is an award-winning humor columnist and the author of There’s a Tick in my Underwear! Contact her at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .'; document.write(''); document.write(addy_text70851); document.write('<\/a>'); //-->\n This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.