Over the years, American inventiveness has given birth to many wonderful contraptions and concepts, which the world at large tries desperately to incorporate into their own cultures. However, there are a few wrinkles in the American fabric we can boast as strictly our own. Hotels which advocate four-hour naps, deep-fried Twinkies and half-hour long infomercials extolling the miraculous benefits of male enhancement are fine examples of the American way of life. Today, I add another item to that ever-growing impressive list. I refer, of course, to the kitchen junk drawer.|
Only in America can you find a designated space solely devoted to useless crap. It’s common knowledge that in third-world countries, the village shares a “dried, junk goat sack,” which is pierced atop a long, sharp stick at the edge of town, right next to the community stoning pit. This is a poor attempt at mimicking our way of life. Only Americans are brazen enough to sacrifice vital kitchen cabinet space to organize a surplus of items we have no intention of ever using. Follow along with me, as I rifle through our junk drawer, and see how much similar rubbish you currently house in yours. Now, you know you’ve hit junk drawer Nirvana if you have to snake your arm into the drawer and manipulate or press down piles of crap just so you can gain access to your treasures. Let’s see what we have.
- Three Rolls of Scotch Tape...and one that actually has some tape left in the dispenser!
- Four Plastic Key Rings. It’s important to have a variety of choices because one never knows when you’ll be overcome with a manic fit to change out your old key ring. Lucky is the person who kept his complimentary All-State insurance or “Paco’s Taco World” key rings.
- Chapstick...lots and lots of Chapstick! I think it’s a law that once you purchase a tube of Chapstick, you must apply the waxy substance to your lips and immediately drive straight home and deposit it in your junk drawer. Many times have I picked up a mystery tube, examined the smooshed, crusty wax tip and, after a good dry heave, put it back in the drawer and drove out to buy a new one.
- Countless Pizza Coupons. If the county morgue sold pizzas, I’d eat ‘em! We have dollar-off coupons for every pizza joint in the surrounding six-county area, some dating back to the Carter Administration. The fact that they’re expired means nothing. Whenever I try to use one of these expired coupons, I experience a nervous thrill, like I’m trying to commit a crime or something. It’s similar to the rush you get when you’re standing in line at the grocery store and you give the check-out girl a coupon you know is well past expiration. There’s a moment of silently-enjoyed euphoria when she scans the coupon and wrongly credits your total. The fact that I did all that to save ten cents on dish soap is irrelevant. It’s the closest I’ll ever come to “passing bad checks” all over town, so let me have my moment of being a bad boy. As far as the “bad” pizza coupon goes, I tell myself over and over, “He’ll never notice! For he is just a pizza delivery kid and I am cunning!” Then, when he arrives, I open the door and see more times than not, he’s 18, driving a much nicer car than mine and is probably after work, heading to a wild, beer-guzzling orgy, while I’m sitting at home on a Friday night watching reruns of “Who’s the Boss” and eating pizza. I am cunning.
- Keys. We are currently in possession of 13 unmarked keys of varying shapes and sizes. I have no idea what they open. If you see someone standing helplessly locked out of their home, send them to our house. There’s a good chance we have their spare key.
- Three Miniature Screwdrivers, the biggest being the size of your pinky and the smallest, the size of your pinky at birth. If something is so small that it requires miniscule tools to make adjustments or to fix, then it is probably inexpensive and small enough to grab with one hand and throw as far as humanly possible out the backdoor into the yard. Therefore, these tools are not necessary but we’ll hang on to them because they’ve earned a proper spot in the junk drawer.
- Pocket Eyeglass Repair Kit. Similar to the aforementioned tiny tools, this useless kit contains the smallest screwdriver known to man. This, of course, makes perfect sense because it works in conjunction with the smallest screw known to man, which can be found on the hinges of eyeglasses. Stop any nuclear physicist on the street and ask them, “Excuse me, nuclear physicist. Can you tell me the smallest particle known to man?” “Certainly, my ignorant, average I.Q. friend. The smallest bit of matter known to man is the quark. Next, of course, is the hedron and just a skosh bigger than that, is the head of an eyeglass hinge screw.”
God forbid, a friend should be visiting us and without warning, suffer the trauma and social embarrassment of a loose eyeglass screw. I sleep better at night, secure in the knowledge that I possess the proper tools to remedy such a heinous situation. Are you kidding me!?! Have you ever tried to even see the head of this screw, let alone have the surgeon-like steady hand to connect screwdriver to screw? My fingers move just a bit, like I’m tapping out Morse code after a couple of pots of coffee. If I had the calm of a surgeon’s hand, I’d more than likely BE a surgeon and make lots of money. Then I could afford to replace broken glasses and not perform delicate surgery on the microscopic level.
- The Foundation. Providing a comfortable bedding for all the items listed above is a morass of loose pocket change, dead batteries, thumb tacks, paper clips, an unraveled sewing tape measure and one single marble. Aside from an occasional spirited game of Kerplunk, the use of marbles has been curtailed significantly for use in everyday life. In fact, I can’t think of a single reason to keep a spare marble but since I have one in my junk drawer, you should too.
Like your junk drawer, mine is filled with just about everything except one item, which in a pinch, I can never find: a pen. It’s like a magician’s magic cabinet—I place a pen in the drawer, close it, say the magic words, “I need a pen.” And presto, open the door and the pen is gone! However, I’m sure to find any one of the following, if not all:
- several Sharpie permanent markers.
- a yellow and orange highlighter.
- crayons...full and broken.
- a pencil. Not just any pencil. We keep, at the ready, one of those refillable architect mechanical pencils. I’ve never used it to write with but have wasted large chunks of my day clicking the eraser part excitedly seeing just how far I can extend the lead without breaking it. It doesn’t take much to make my “List of Accomplishments.”
Perhaps, for once, we Americans should follow the example of our third-world neighbors and collectively store an entire village’s useless crap in one place. Trouble is, most towns in north America have regrettably banished public stonings, so we wouldn’t have a good place to hang the enormous, dried goat sack. And really, who would be in possession of a spare giant, dried goat sack? Wait a minute—let me check my junk drawer. I think I saw one next to the half-eaten pack of Chiclets.