About the fridge, junk drawer and hugsPublished 10:17am Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Column: Tales From Exit 22
The refrigerator I grew up with had three climate zones. Things placed near the rear of the fridge became icy. Items placed in the middle of the shelves were cooled to the extent that they were supposed to be. Foodstuffs situated in the front of the shelves, near the door, were warmed. We didn’t have a microwave oven. We warmed things in our refrigerator.
A severed plastic arm from a toy superhero offered with a kid’s meal at a fast food restaurant. It was the first thing I came across in my junk drawer. A junk drawer is any drawer that will not open because there is a roll of duct tape preventing it from doing so. To open the drawer, it must be jiggled until something falls out the back. The next item I pulled from the flotsam and jetsam was an air freshener in need of freshening. Then in rapid order came Tic Tacs that had melted into a clump, keys for missing locks, a broken ceramic dog showing dried glue from an aged repair attempt, an unsigned thank you card, a pink birthday cake candle and twist ties beyond number. Random things piled in a drawer. I should have an annual junk drawer sale.
Those thrilling days of yesteryear
I had an Etch A Sketch when I was a boy. I drew boxes. I was a minimalist architect-in-training. I had Silly Putty. It came inside an egg. We didn’t have the kind of chickens that produced Silly Putty eggs, so I had to buy them at Sibilrud’s Store. Silly Putty stretched and bounced. It copied the image of printed material. I pressed it against Pogo in the newspaper comics. Pogo’s likeness magically appeared on the putty. It wasn’t digital but it was there.
I came into the house as a boy who loved exploring the world by getting as much of the world on me as possible. I’d been investigating one of the sloughs that dotted our farm, and it was impossible to do that without becoming covered in mud.
Mother had guests as I tramped into the kitchen. I looked like a wild boy raised by crawdads. Apparently, a guest raised an eyebrow because my mother said loud enough for all to hear, “Dirt doesn’t hurt.”
Destructive forces at work
I stepped on an anthill the other day. I didn’t mean to. There were so many of them that it was hard not to step on one. I felt guilty about it. Ants are such industrious creatures, poring over blueprints before working long and hard in building a home. Then along I come and step on it. I could almost hear tiny ant voices saying, “Oh, man!” I suspect that once an anthill is completed, the ants begin worrying about the Big Foot in the sky.
It’s on my resume
I was a college student during the day and worked at a gas station nights. It was a full-service enterprise. I pumped the fuel of their choice for happy motorists. I checked the air in the tires, measured the engine’s oil level, inspected the radiator, gave directions, told jokes and washed the windshield and the windows. That’s how I got the job. The fellow before me was fired because he wouldn’t do windows.
It was nearly noon when I walked into the restaurant. Once seated, I became all too aware of the fact that I was the only customer in the establishment. Did everyone else know something I didn’t know? Maybe the cook went out for lunch. A waitress took my order. Time passed and the waitress returned with a plate and asked me, “Are you the turkey?”
I didn’t know how to answer that question. I remained the only patron. Everyone else knew what I did not, so I qualified as a turkey, but I didn’t order turkey. I had ordered a beef commercial.
I waited alone for my beef commercial.
The history of hugging
My family was not of the hugging variety. We hugged only at funerals and airports. And we never went to an airport. Hugging was like the good china. It was used only for special occasions. I have become a hugger over time, and I have noticed that some huggers delight in hugging those people who don’t enjoy hugging. Some hugging victims get the look of a stray cat being bathed. This look attracts other huggers.
Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.