Peeing on the Lawnmower Part Two: More Stuff that's Mine!

This week I continue my post about material stuff that's important to me.  This stuff is mine.  And gosh darn it, that makes this stuff special!

Bottle opener.  Pop-top aluminum cans and twist-off bottle caps have made life so much easier for Homo sapiens.  Despite these technological advances, every now and then a small town microbrewery introduces a product to market that still requires the essential services of a bottle opener.  Few tools are simpler – he’s a four-inch, flat rectangular piece of steel with a bottle cap opener on one end and a metal-can-puncturing fang on the other.

New Glarus Brewing CompanyToday, in the 21st century, the lowly bottle opener lies dormant in kitchen drawers across America, resting next to better utilized utensils such as the fork, steak knife and measuring spoon.  While the more popular utensils come and go all day long, the bottle opener lies paralyzed for months, without any action, slowly deteriorating, adding several new rust spores to his tarnished surface with each passing year.  Life sucks sometimes, even for metal objects.  But on the rare, annual occasion when a family member or house guest actually needs the services of the old-fashioned bottle opener, I need the reassurance that he’s waiting for me in his little partitioned section of the utensil drawer.  During anxious moments like these, when a retro bottle of beer comes along, can anyone afford to delay the sensation of all those tiny, carbonated bubbles bursting across your taste buds and exploding off the roof of your mouth?

Yes, the Swiss developed their army knife and other manufacturers invented alternatives to the antiquated bottle openers or welded them onto bigger household gadgets that feature 10 highly useful food preparation tools.  Using one of these souped-up gadgets, though, just doesn’t feel right when there’s a simple tool whose sole reason for existence is to pop off a bottle cap or puncture a hole in a metal can.

Writing about the bottle opener is a sentimental chore.  My eyelids flutter and my glands produce extra saliva as I swallow hard to moisten my quivering esophagus.  And don’t you dare cheapen the moment by suggesting that it’s “just a piece of metal,” with no hinges, ball bearings, rechargeable battery pack or warranty.  The bottle opener deserves our respect.

Woodchucks t-shirt.  I own a favorite sport coat, tie, pair of sneakers, boxer shorts, pajamas and blue jeans.  But I’m not emotionally attached to any of these wardrobe items.  As a matter of fact, if an F5 tornado or five-alarm fire destroys our home, I won’t shed any tears over my clothing except for one item – my Woodchucks t-shirt, named after the semi-pro baseball team from my hometown of Wausau, Wisconsin.

To qualify as a great husband, you must understand your wife’s impulse to hide or destroy men’s clothing that she deems offensive or tasteless.  My t-shirt proudly displays the team’s mascot and logo – “Woody” the Woodchuck.  He’s dressed in a baseball uniform, cap dipping below his eyes, a serious competitive scowl stretching across his mouth, glove on his left hand, ball palmed in the right hiding his slider as he strides across my chest, his majestic woodchuck tail dipping and curling, all silhouetted against a big green “W.”  A t-shirt like this one never wears out.  After years of fading, staining and unraveling, only a cryptographer or symbologist could eventually decode the meaning of the letters and picture that used to appear sharp and vibrant on the 100% cotton surface.

By most female standards, this garment qualifies as an abomination.  I accept that denunciation.  But I also anticipated my wife’s secret desire to obliterate “Woody” from my wardrobe.  So, with the help of a high-tech friend, I installed in the shirt’s right sleeve hem a miniature homing device, the kind that’s traceable by global tracking satellites.  That way I could locate and retrieve Woody from the county landfill, several days after my wife jammed him inside an empty Cocoa Puffs box, along with some coffee grounds and moldy peaches, and wheeled him to the street curb along with other household refuse.

Was I outraged?   Did I plot revenge?  Of course not.  I accept this spousal behavior as a biological imperative.  I adapt, though, like any Husband of the Year would. Henceforth, I store my Woodchucks t-shirt under the driver’s seat in my car.  After backing out of the driveway to run errands, I wait until the odometer reaches four miles, marking a safe distance from my home.  Then I pull over to the curb, slip Woody over my head and neck and let him rest upon my muscular shoulders and chest.  He feels familiar, comfortable.  Woodie warms my heart.

(next week: wrapping up stories about tools, but grab lots of tissues for the emotional finale about my snow blower named Arien)