THE JUNK DRAWER
Not A Superhero's Tool Box
Two square plastic containers and lids were haphazardly stacked, sitting on the kitchen counter next to the fridge. Across the kitchen next to the coffee pot were a pair of salad tongs and a vegetable peeler. I know this is a cue that my husband has emptied the dish washer. He claims he doesn’t know where the weird stuff goes. I think he leaves things sitting out to prove that he has done a household chore. In his mind, no chore should go unnoticed.
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Over the years, we have had various competitions about who does more work around the house. Unfortunately, the idea that household chores are a competition was my idea. When the kids were little, we had a star chart. This was not a chart to map the heavens; it was a grid listing jobs with a corresponding square to stick a small star when the job was completed. At the end of the week, the tally of stars earned a prize—a trip to the dollar store or a special treat at the market. As they grew older, they earned their weekly allowance of cash to spend as they wished.
Back then, the kids, who were always in a rush to complete their jobs and earn a star, would stuff things into any empty drawer, closet, or nook. Toys in the bathroom, schoolbooks in the kitchen, dirty clothes hidden behind the door, and everything else shoved under the bed. Long after they have moved out, I still find things in the strangest of places.
There is one spot in the house—my dirty little secret spot—that I’ve managed to keep hidden for years. I’ve told you before that I relished my role of the mom-keeper of lost things. It feels good to produce the lost whatchamacallit and save the day. That’s how my secret spot came to be. Where do you put those things that don’t really have a place of their own? Unlike socks, which have their own drawer, these are the one-offs, the things you might need some day but are truly unique.
Like the teeny, tiny screwdriver to fix your glasses. Or the special metallic gold pen that writes on glass. A book of matches, not for the random guest who still smokes, but as insurance that you will be able to light birthday candles if all the lighters in the house run out at the same time. This is the place for super glue and safety pins, the secret spot that holds the solution to any number of problems.
And it was my secret, until my husband asked recently, “Where’s that tape you use for wrapping gifts?”
And I replied without thinking. “Check the small drawer in the kitchen. The one in the corner under the telephone.” Yes, you heard that right, we still have a land line! If the power goes out and the other electronics fail, that goldenrod kitchen phone with the rumpled chord still works! There’s something comforting in that. The problem was, In a matter of seconds, I had revealed my secret! As it turned out, he found the drawer but not the tape.
After years of stashing thingies, dongles, and whatsits, the drawer was so full it was hard to open. All those items I saved, just in case, had accumulated and morphed into a tangled mess. There was so much stuff … most of it unidentifiable. My romantic notion of Super Mom, able to swoop in and save the day, didn’t quite fit now.
I had to agree—my secret spot was really the junk drawer.